“No Foundation. All The Way Down The Line.”

(Excerpts from The Time Of Your Life © 1939 by William Saroyan. Excerpts used with permission of the Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University.)


This is not an attempt to critique a stageplay or its writer, but to consider the significance of one minor character in the play, The Time Of Your Life, by William Saroyan. That character is the ARAB and following are excerpts from the play in which the ARAB appears. Page numbers refer to the anthology from which it was taken: Best Plays of the Modern American Theatre, SECOND SERIES, 1939-1946, edited by John Gassner, 1947.

Act 2, page 58

KRUPP Why then do you read?

McCARTHY(laughing) It’s relaxing. It’s soothing. (pause) The lousiest people born into the world are writers. Language is all right. It’s the people who use language that are lousey. (The ARAB has moved a little closer, and is listening carefully.) (To the ARAB.) What do you think, Brother?

ARAB (after making many faces, thinking very deeply) No foundation. All the way down the line. What. What-not. Nothing. I go walk and look at sky. (He goes.)

JOE (slowly, thinking, remembering) What? What-not? That means this side, that side. Inhale. Exhale. What: birth, What-not: death. The inevitable, the astounding, the magnificent seed of growth and decay in all things. Beginning, and end. That man, in his own way, is a prophet. He is one who, with the help of beer, is able to reach that state of deep understanding in which what and what-not, the reasonable and unreasonable are one.

* * *

Page 61

TOM (going) Ah, Joe. If McCarthy wins we’ll be rich.

JOE Get going, will you? (Tom runs out and nearly knocks over the ARAB coming back in. Nick fills him a beer without a word.)

ARAB No foundation, anywhere. Whole world. No foundation. All the way down the line.

[His remark, as usual, is ignored by those present, who continue with their own exchanges.]

* * *

Act 4, pages 70-71

KRUPP Every once in a while I catch myself being mean, hating people just because they’re down and out, broke and hungry, sick or drunk. And then when I’m with the stuffed shirts at headquarters, all of a sudden I’m nice to them, trying to make an impression. On who? People I don’t like. And I feel disgusted. (with finality) I’m going to quit. That’s all. Quit. Out. I’m going to give them back the uniform and the gadgets that go with it. I don’t want any part of it. This is a good world. What do they want to make all the trouble for all the time?

ARAB (quietly, gently, with great understanding) No foundation. All the way down the line.


ARAB No foundation. No foundation.

KRUPP I’ll say there’s no foundation.

ARAB All the way down the line.

KRUPP (to Nick) Is that all he ever says?

NICK That’s all he’s been saying this week.

KRUPP What is he, anyway?

NICK He’s an Arab, or something like that.

KRUPP No, I mean what’s he do for a living?

NICK (to ARAB) What do you do for a living, brother?

ARAB Work. Work all my life. All my life work. From small boy to old man, work. In old country, work. In new country, work. In New York, Pittsburg, Detroit, Chicago, Imperial Valley, San Francisco, work. No beg. Work. For what? Nothing. Three boys in old country. Twenty years, not see. Lost. Dead. Who knows? What. What-not. No Foundation. All the way down the line.

KRUPP What’d he say last week?

NICK Didn’t say anything. Played the harmonica.

ARAB Old country song. I play. (He brings a harmonica from his back pocket.)

KRUPP Seems like a nice guy.

NICK Nicest guy in the world.

KRUPP (bitterly) But crazy. Just like all the rest of us. Stark raving mad.

* * *

Act 5, page 79

(Nick is on his way out. The ARAB enters.)

NICK Hi-ya, Mahmed.

ARAB No Foundation.

NICK All the way down the line. (He goes.)

(Wesley is at the piano, playing quietly. The ARAB takes out his harmonica, and begins to play. Wesley fits his playing to the ARAB’s.)

* * *

page 80

(The newsboy goes to the ARAB.)

NEWSBOY Paper, mister?

ARAB (irritated) No foundation.


ARAB (very angry) No Foundation. (The newsboy starts out, turns, looks at the ARAB, shakes head.)

NEWSBOY No foundation? How do you figure?

[The ARAB gives him no response.]


William Saroyan was an American playwrite who was the son of Armenian immigrants. Armenia is sandwiched between Turkey on the west, Azerbaijan on the East, Iran to the South and Georgia to the North. Although Armenia is in close proximity to a high concentration of Arabs and Muslims, their primary ethnicity is caucasian and the dominant religion is Christianity. In fact Armenia was the world’s first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

Interestingly, Willam Saroyan’s father was a Christian preacher. But when William was only 3 years old, his father died. For the next 5 years, William and his brother and sister were placed in an orphanage in Oakland, California, while their mother scrambled to find work to support them.

The fact that he was buried in Armenia indicates Saroyan’s ancestral roots were important to him. As an American author he wrote from an American perspective, while never totally forgetting where his family came from. Imbedded in that perspective was the drama of the human psyche, struggling to keep its footing.

Saroyan was a heavy drinker. The loss of his father at a very young age had stripped his life of the kind of foundation his father would have prepared for him. And I think that he struggled with that loss of foundation his whole life.

The Time Of Your Life, opened on Broadway, and was the first play to earn both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It is set almost exclusively in a run-down dive in San Francisco, which Saroyan based on an establishment that he himself frequented.

The several characters in this play are predictably types one would expect to find in a honky tonk bar, although as their stories unfold you discover that despite their apparent foolishness, they share a universal need for meaning and significance. The resolution of the play for me is that through the struggles and unique predicaments of their lives, they are shown to be deserving of sympathy and even forgiveness.

An unassuming character in this play that jumped out at me was the ARAB. He is listed in the dramatis personae as “An Eastern philosopher and harmonica player,” and further described on page 41 as “…a lean old man with a rather ferocious old-country mustache, with the ends twisted up. Between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand is the Mohammedan tattoo indicating that he has been to Mecca. He is sipping beer. It’s about eleven-thirty in the morning.”

This brief description actually speaks volumes. A Muslim who takes his religion seriously doesn’t drink alcohol at all. Drinking at this hour of the day is a sure sign of a drinking problem. Obviously, the ARAB was the backslidden sort – identifying with Islamic culture, but not its religious strictures. While making a hadj to Mecca is an obligation for all Muslims, tattoos are considered an offense by many main-stream religious Muslims, so again, we see this character is somewhat conflicted.

It is clear that the ARAB is not a religious man, but a man of the world who came out of a religious background. This seems to represent the conscience of the author, who himself was a man of the world, despite being born into a religious family.

The fact that this character is called the ARAB, not the ARMENIAN, exemplifies how Americans tend to view people from the Middle East, the Mediteranean, Eastern Europe and even India. Put an “old-country” moustache on a white Armenian and voila! You have an ARAB. In the present era we have seen this kind of ignorance directed toward Sikhs, who are often mistaken for Muslims or Arabs, simply because they wear turbins – despite the distinctive appearance of a Sikh turbin.

When I worked for the Postal Service, a carrier who had originally come from India was nicknamed “Ghandi” by some of our fellow workers. I often wondered if that offended him, since he was a Sikh and Ghandi was a Hindu. In any case, I imagine that Saroyen’s “ARAB” was a calculated mischaracterization intended to reveal a common American attitude toward people from “the old country”.

No doubt Saroyen had encountered that kind of thing in his own life, and using the character of the ARAB, he wove it into the fabric of his play. What struck me about his character was that without elaboration, his single message was that there is no foundation. He responded to the people and situations around him and made his universal commentary on the human condition: that in the whole world there is no foundation.

This could be taken as a repudiation of the Christian foundation that Saroyan had lost, or some might interpret this to be a type of Nihilism that regrets the lack of intrinsic meaning to life. I doubt that because of the positive moral statements that begin the setting for the play, which includes, “Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place, and let it be free and unashamed,” and “Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption.”

It is my opinion that the ARAB represents Saroyan’s personal sense of loss in the lack of foundation for his own life, and that the inhabitants of the fictional world he created reflect that same lack. These are just my own impressions and suppositions. I have not made of study of William Saroyan. But there is something in his writing that reminds me of my own father, who was born around the same time and was also a heavy drinker. So, if in my own ignorance I have made some egregious misrepresentation, I appologize – particularly to those who love the work of this author.

While, much of the dialogue is written with comedic intent, comedy only works when it is based in truth. And I find a lot of truth represented by what is said by the ARAB, even taking into consideration that being loaded on alcohol can make things sound more profound than they really are.

All in all, the ARAB is more than just an odd character or even a sympatheic character. I feel he is pivotal to the play’s meaning. I hesitate to use the term, “message” because rather that trying to sell an idea, I feel Saroyan was offering his ideas as one might extend his hand for another to accept.

The ARAB’s mantra-like refrain, “No foundation. All the way down the line” represents a sweeping moral dilemma deeply important to him, while those around him are hardly aware of it, never mind able to understand what he’s talking about. The major exception to this is JOE, who seems to understand things better than just about everyone, and yet his understanding doesn’t really impact how he lives his own life. Even JOE doesn’t have a foundation.

He spends his days drinking in a bar, looking for meaning with the yearning of a poet, only to laugh at human foibles and frailty – with the help of some champaign. But when tomorrow comes, it will be a repeat of all his yesterdays. And that will be his life. This is the result of having no foundation to your life.

An old philosopher would say this because in his life he had observed how people try to use any number of things as foundations upon which to build their lives, only to see those ersatz foundations crumble when problems arose and attacked them. But recognizing the fact that there is no foundation isn’t the same as telling people about the true foundation to life. Even an old philosopher might not know what that true foundation is.

In Isaiah 28:16 we read, “therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation”.

1 Samuel 2:2 says, “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

Matthew 7:24-27 records the words of Jesus, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

The true foundation is Jesus Christ.

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The Value Of Free Will Is Choosing To Do The Right Thing.

Reading a passage in Jeremiah this morning, I was reminded that God gives us freewill and that the onus is on us to choose to do the right thing.

Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. – Jeremiah 23:28

We might cite this as an example of freedom of speech under the LORD’s authority. Because God is willing to permit anyone to say anything, it behooves believers who have been given his word to speak it faithfully.

The fact that our free will is recognized in Scripture is evident. In addressing the consequences of the blessings and curses of God, Deuteronomy 30:19 makes it clear: we have the freedom to choose life. Joshua 24:15 speaks of choosing whom we shall serve. John 7:17 mentions a person’s will to do God’s will. In fact that is what obedience to God is all about: freely choosing to do God’s will. It doesn’t mean God forces you into submission to religious laws.

God does not force obedience on anyone. But no one can exercise freedom without assuming responsibility for their choices. For every choice we make, according to the exercise of our free will, there are predictable consequences – predictable because God has created an ordered, balanced universe. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Reality is not arbitrary, but rational and characterized by cause and effect.

So, those who choose to rebel against God will accordingly pay the consequences for what they have done.

There are two seductive arguments against this statement. First, as recorded in Genesis 3, Satan was able to entice Adam and Eve to sin (rebel against the authority of God) by using doubt (skepticism). He asked rhetorically whether or not God really commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And once doubt had been introduced into their thinking, Satan appealed to their human pride, suggesting that God had ulterior motives to telling them not to eat from that particular tree. And this argument continues to be used today.

Secondly, is the foolish denial that God is real, relegating God to a position of merely being a product of Man’s creative imagination. There is no exuse for this argument because what can be known about God has been made abundantly clear from the beginning (Romans 1:20). Those who use this argument willfully cover their eyes and only see what they want to see. They particularly refuse to regard holy Scripture, the God-breathed word that reveals himself to all who are open to receive it.

Since doubt and pride are very real things that we human beings experience, it is understandable that those states of mind might lead a person to sin (again, keeping it clear, sin is rebelling against God). But to insist that God is not real, in order to rationalize not recognizing his authority over you, requires a significant presupposition of the will in which the individual assumes god-like authority over his own life.

Once this presupposition is made, the individual has no cause to examine the evidence. Such a person makes himself out to be a god whose mind is made up. And that’s all that matters.

The error of this kind of thinking is that those who are enticed by it will suddenly, in the end, be confronted with the reality that God has authority over them, regardless of their denials. God doesn’t need their permission. He is the One – the only One – who is in authority.

That is what the Bible says. Jeremiah’s prophecy said, “…let him who has my word speak my word faithfully,” which I have tried to do here. The reader has the freedom to accept it or reject it, but there will come a time when we all “reap what we sow” (that means deal with the consequences of our own actions). Galatians 6:7 instructs, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

God gives us freedom. But don’t think your freedom means you are not responsible for your choices. Consequences will come. They are inevitable, unavoidable. For the sake of your own eternal destination, pay attention to God’s revelations. Don’t ignore them. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” – John 14:6.

Choose life. Serve the LORD. Do God’s will. Receive Christ.

Posted in Bible, Christian Faith, the gospel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


This particular post is neither religious nor political. From time to time I like to take a break from the usual format of my blog, and simply share things from my life that hopefully everyone can appreciate.  This is how I came to be (in a very small way) “in the movies”, as they say.

One day in the early 1960s when I was still in high school, my friend Jim and I spent the day at my older brother’s beach apartment in Del Mar, California. My brother had a then state-of-the-art stereo system and we listened to some Cal Tjader, and then Primitiva, by Martin Denny, featuring instrumentals with jungle bird calls. It was the album cover that had grabbed our attention.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 12.47.04 PM

This, by the way, has nothing to do with the rest of the story.

After we had our fill of listening to music, Jim suggested we revisit one of his childhood haunts — a private beach not far away. He regaled me with recollections of many happy times he had spent there, and as we walked around the now-deserted grounds he reminisced about his childhood summers.

What made our brief tour into Jim’s past fascinating for me is that the old buildings that remained were in a state of disrepair, the landscaping was no longer maintained and what I saw was a world totally alien from that which Jim recalled.

I was fascinated by the contrast of the state of things simply as a result of the passage of time. After returning home, I wrote a fictional short story contrasting what Jim had told me with what my eyes had seen. One of the contrasts in that story was of the smooth concrete of the poolside that had felt so “permanent” back then, with the walkways now, which were cracked and rippled by roots.

I shared the story with Jim, we talked about it, and then we both turned our attention to new things. And for a while, those recollections became forgotten, as time continued its passage.

Jim and I had a mutual friend, Wes. In both high school and college the three of us would serenade girls with our own variation of “Oh Dora Dear”, a song near the end of the 1942 cartoon, “The Dover Boys”.

So, naturally, we called ourselves The Dover Boys, a moniker that stuck with us over time.

Doverboys re do 2

That’s me on the left, Wes and Jim.

This was our version of “Oh Dora Dear”:

Oh (insert name of girl) dear,

Sweet (insert same name) dear,

Keep courage up and do not fear.

The Dover Boys from old P.U.

Will soon be there to rescue you.

P.U., P.U. We’re all for you!

Yay! Boo!

(Watching the cartoon will give you an idea of how this sounded, and also will explain that P.U. stands for Pimento University. It’s all just very silly, but that was the whole point.)

To the best of my…ahem…recollections, it was sometime in 1970 that the Dover Boys reunited. Wes and I had both returned from Vietnam and Jim was in the National Guard. I believe it was Jim who sugested we make a film based on the story I had written about his Del Mar childhood memories, especially since Wes had a camera and technical expertise. So, we went down to the old beach and started filming.

Jim did the credits and wrote the theme song. Wes and I came in separate sessions with Jim to record it. It was a fun project, and a labor of love. But we hadn’t planned to “do” anything with it, in terms of finding an audience for it. Then in 1972 a local San Diego film festival provided the ideal setting for showing off our efforts to the public, so Jim entered our film, appropriately entitled, ‘Recollections’ into the festival.

The film festival (Filmmaker’s Fiesta) was produced by KDEO Radio and the Acadamy Theater, where ‘Recollections’ was shown. It was also aired on Public Television station, KPBS. It took 3rd place in the Independent category and received an award from KPBS for “most effective film for television”.

The film in its entirety has a run time in excess of 9 whole minutes. It’s G-Rated, inoffensive, unopinionated and has no hidden “message”, unless you consider family recreation at the beach morally reprehensible.  So, enjoy!   


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The Heart Of Disbelief

A new movie has been recently released, entitled, “The Atheist Delusion” http://www.atheistmovie.com . I haven’t seen it, but the trailer is quite intriguing and got me to thinking.

Reading holy Scripture makes it obvious to me now that everything that can be known about God has been clearly shown, so that those who deny the existence of God are without excuse. And also, because Scripture reveals God’s truth, there is no excuse for those who, while they may believe in God, place him into a box of their own understanding. Yet, I did not always see it that way.

Despite the confused and deconstructed thinking of postmodern secular world views, truth is not relative. It is absolute — not because I say it is, but because the Creator of the universe says it is. The gospel of John begins,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

This was the “knocking on the door” (Revelation 3:20) that led me to open and allow Christ to enter my life. That’s symbolic language, because it attempts to express what is essentially a mystery. John 1:12 says,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Again, the mysterious symbolism of being born again. When the disciples of Jesus asked him why he spoke in parables, instead of speaking plainly, he said, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” and “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”

In order to be receptive to the truth of Christ, a person’s heart must be right with God. It is the honest, sincere condition of a person’s heart that allows him to see, hear and understand the truth. It isn’t simply a matter of their physical eyes, ears or brains. That is why when Jesus was before Pilate, he said, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Here is the truth:

Nothing made God — certainly not the creative imagination of any mere human being.
He is self-existent and eternal, beyond human understanding, beyond human control, higher and greater than I am.
No, I did not make God in my image. He made me in his image.
All that I am able to do comes directly from his intention and design.
He is the potter. I am the clay.
I am subject to his authority and judgement. He is not subject to mine.
He is the Creator, not me.

When humanity was first created, we were free — free to love God and the beauty of all his creation, free to love one another, and have open fellowship with our Creator because he first loved us. But we fell into sin, causing the entire world to fall with us, because of our childish, self-centered disobedience. In our foolishness, we chose rebellion against God over submission to his perfect wisdom. We brought sin into God’s perfect garden, and so it is our sin that pollutes the world.

Because of his infinite compassion, mercy, love and forgiveness, God invites us to leave that sin behind and return to him. He invested centuries with Israel, establishing a covenant with them designed to overcome the sin that separates us from him. But Israel continually violated their covenant with God. They proved that because of our sinful nature, human beings will never live up to God’s righteous standards. Thus 1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

Sin separates us from God, and separation from God is death — eternal death. So God gave us the perfect sacrifice for all sin — the perfect fulfillment of his covenant with Israel. Instead of endless sacrifices being made for endless sins, without any real change in us, God offers his perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we shall no longer be separated from him, but reunited in fellowship with him and alive in him (and he in us) forever.

God has done this to save us from the consequences of our own sin, and yet many in their foolishness refuse to admit to their own culpability and continue to blame God for every bad thing that happens in this fallen world. They either blame God for evil or use the presence of evil as evidence that God does not exist — anything to avoid their own accountability to their Creator. The flip side to this blame game is utopian thinking, which makes the basic assumption that humanity can not only fix the problems of the world, but make life perfect on our own, without God’s intervention. This is the ultimate delusion of self-determinism.

God loves you. He created you. He desires fellowship with you. He has gifts he wants to bless you with. It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This truth is not hidden. God reveals it in his holy Scripture to anyone who is open to read it and study it. His word says that he is calling us and even knocking at the door of our hearts. He does not desire to remain separated from us, but offers communion with all who will receive him — the Creator of the universe desires a personal, loving, forgiving relationship with you.

It has been said, “Wise men still seek him.” Will you seek him today? Will you stop ignoring him and read his word? Try starting with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. That’s the door that opened the kingdom of heaven for me. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” 2 Chronicles 15:2 adds, “…but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

God wants to bless you, but he’s waiting for you to act because he gave you free will. Seeking him requires an act of your will. You can either seek him or find any number of ways to resist him. What will you do?

Posted in Atheism, Belief in God, Bible, Christian Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Remembering JFK

A comment to my last post about the Kennedy commencement speech got me to reminiscing about JFK. This morning I listened to the speech he gave at San Diego State. It was strong on education, backed up with a lot of statistical data, and granted, came with a political slant. What struck me was that in those days there was an almost universal love for the man, a palpable pride in him because he was our President who represented commonly held, achievable, American ideals.

Another video I watched was the news coverage of his visit to San Diego by channel 8 TV. What astounded me was how informative the news used to be, compared to the dreck they serve up today. I was blown away by the fact-filled, descriptive narration of the news commentator. It dramatically illustrates the reality that we as a nation have truly been dumbed-down in the most egregious sense. That fact is a poignant wound in the American psyche, particularly in light of Kennedy’s vision for better education.

But my memories of JFK weren’t really political. In 1962 Vaughn Meader came out with The First Family comedy album  th

which I totally loved. I played it over and over, memorizing the bits and aping the accents of all the characters. I particularly enjoyed doing the JFK parts, and was known for saying, “Jackie’s fine right here!” and “No pregunta que su patria puede hacer para usted. Pero pregunta que usted puede hacer para su patria.” A group of us in the Thespian club actually staged our own version of The First Family for a school assembly, acting out some of the vignettes from the album. It was great fun and represented a commonly held attitude toward the President in those days, that he was authentically personal and even fun. From my high school annual of 1963 is this photo of one of the sketches. I’m playing JFK in the rocking chair.   Scan 8

My high school graduation was exactly one week after the SDSC commencement (it wasn’t a ‘U’ yet). I don’t remember the speeches given at my own commencement any better than I remember Kennedy’s speech. I was young, and my main memory was one of, “Gosh! It’s the President!”.

My next memory of JFK was 6 1/2 months later. I was a freshman at San Diego State and had been using one of the practice rooms in the old Music building, lost in some song I was trying to learn. I came out of the room and saw a friend of mine in the hall. His face was ashen. I asked him what was wrong. “Mike,” he struggled to speak, “the President has been shot.”

For some odd reason, I thought he meant the president of the college, Dr. Malcom Love. That would have been tragic enough. But as I walked downstairs and exited the building, I saw a crowd of students silently and motionlessly standing around a TV that had been set up in the quad. Going over to it and watching the news being reported on the shooting in Dallas, it was as if I had awakened from a dream, only to find myself in a nightmare. The president who had been shot was JFK.

I don’t know how long I stood there, hanging on every reporter’s word, but at some point we heard that the President was dead. Everyone was dumbstruck. With no concern for any of my classes (they were surely all cancelled anyway) in a daze I just walked the two miles back to my house. When I got home, I think it was my mother who first saw me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I sat on the couch without knowing what to do, and said, “The President has been shot.”

I think that marked a major change in American history and culture — at least it changed how I looked at the world. Politics and social issues became less idealistic, less noble and grew to be harsh and even deadly. Politics was no longer a matter of intellectual debate, but one of violent force and confrontation.

Less than 4 1/2 years later, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I was in the Army, finishing infantry training at Ft. Polk, LA. Then, when I was home in San Diego on leave, shortly before shipping out to Vietnam, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated during his campaign for the presidency. That was June 5th, 1968 — almost 5 years to the day when we heard JFK’s commencement address at San Diego State. Then in less than two weeks, I landed in Vietnam.

Throughout all this time I hoped things would get better. I was definitely part of the youthful idealism mentioned in the comment to my previous post. But now, after more than half a century has passed, just as I felt that terrible day when the President was killed, I feel like I have awakened from a dream, only to find myself in a nightmare. Things have only gotten worse. Those who were there, back in those days, know it’s true.

Posted in American History, Historical perspective, Politics, Violence | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What Is Success?

An article entitled, How the public views the secret to America’s success, was posted July 1, 2016 on the Pew Research Center web site http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/americas-success/ . It focused on two views: “Reliance on principles” and “Ability to change” and used this graph to illustrate the percentages of which view were held by four different generations (age groups).

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 11.18.32 AMAt http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/ the Pew Research Center has a quiz that helps you determine how Millennial you are. Just for fun, I took the quiz and barely registered on the scale. I didn’t even come up to the level of the “Silent Majority”. That’s because my views are so old-fashioned they aren’t considered relevant — old-fashioned, traditional, and Bible-based.

When you consider the oppositional views of principles vs. change, you enter into the comparison of world views. A world view is simply the way we choose to see reality. World views are more fundamental than philosophies. They reflect our values by giving us a framework of basic assumptions upon which to base our understanding of life and the world around us.

What this bar graph tells me is that Americans are deeply divided in their world views. It also shows that the trend is for younger persons to adopt the “change” view over the “principled” view. There is a reason for this.

Francis Schaeffer referred to what he called “the Christian consensus,” which was the general acceptance of Biblical values in society, even though not everyone was Christian. In the 60s this began to dramatically change as people increasingly rejected the Bible as authority and sought to replace God with the humanist authority of secular world views. Historically, this came at a time when the idea of absolute truth was being rejected and was being replaced by relativism.

In her book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey wrote, “Having a Christian worldview means being utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world.” So, coming from the principled position of a Christian world view, the so-called “change” or variability of secular world views is seen as a poor substitute for the absolute truth.

Thus the two opposed world views of principle and change. One small detail Millennials and other relativists seem to overlook, is that principles are not opposed to change. Changes refer to specific circumstances or other factors, while principles overarch all circumstances and factors, thereby allowing for change. But for someone to consider specific changes more important than principles requires a rejection of the need for moral compass.

In Western Civilization generally and in the United States specifically, Christian principles have held together the fabric of society while allowing for a great deal of change. Essentially the rejection of principles by Millennials reflects society’s rejection of absolute truth and the authority of God.

Also from Total Truth are these words by Nancy Pearcey: “Religion is no longer considered the source of serious truth claims that could potentially conflict with public agendas. The private realm has been reduced to an “innocuous ‘play area'”, says Peter Berger, where religion is acceptable for people who need that kind of crutch- but where it won’t upset any important applecarts in the larger world of politics and economics.”

No wonder Millennials see nothing substantive in principles, but consider change more important — changes like gender selection and the definition of marriage. Another Pearcey quote from Total Truth is, “Morality is always derivative. It stems from one’s worldview.” The huge numbers of people today who adopt a pro-change view over one of principles do so because they are not that concerned with principles in their own lives.

That prevailing secular view stems from the rejection of absolute truth, the rejection of the God of the Bible and the rejection of his authority over all humanity. As a nation, we are turning our backs on God.  And We are doing a complete turn-around from our origins.

One of the reasons for this is that our public schools have done an inadequate job of actually teaching our history. History has intentionally been rewritten and students are not taught about the foundational principles that created and sustained this nation during its first two centuries. Instead, they are taught about what needed to be changed and what needs to be changed.

Even the principles that make up the warp and woof of our Constitution are discarded by modern legal philosophy as specifics of a bygone age that need to be superseded by  contemporary changes. That’s why they like calling it a “living” document — lib-speak for they can change its meaning to suit whatever their agenda requires. They hate principles because principles hold them accountable to something bigger, something higher, something grander than they themselves.

Our history notwithstanding, we live in a largely godless nation where younger generations look no further than what is expedient for their moral compass. In the post-modern age of relativism, deconstructionism, reductionism, utilitarianism and all the other godless isms, is it no wonder that our national presidential election has devolved into its current ignoble form of “statesmanship”?

If you are one who still believes in principles, may you break up your soil, plant your seeds, water, weed and care for your tender sprouts and sing, “This land is your land, this land is my land…” But don’t be amazed when your blessing is rudely interrupted by a strident voice yelling, “You kids get off the lawn!” The big change is that it was Hillary’s land all along. (Oops.)


Posted in Change, Principles, Truth, World View | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

The Truth Will Out.

Probably my poorest habit in writing is that I tend to be overly wordy, posting articles that strain the attention span of most people.  The trend today is to write short pieces, so that readers may get in and get out quickly, without getting bogged down in too many details.

A brother in Christ, and someone I have great respect for has suggested that my emails to him would suffice as posts.  So here goes…

This is what I emailed to my friend regarding this article and its comments:

Many years ago in my first church experience, a young man who sang in the quartet I was in, left to go to college. He had struggled with homosexuality as a teen, but seemed to have put it behind him. But at college he got back into the lifestyle, this time really committing to it and announcing to everyone his decision. I wrote him a loving letter pointing out Scripturally the error of his ways (He still claims to be a Christian.). He wrote me back citing several of those skewed, deceived interpretations of Scripture, and I realized his self justification was beyond my reasoning. So, I shook the dust off my feet and ended all communication with him.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I came across some sites of gays claiming to be Christian, one in particular written by a theologically “trained” fellow with a doctorate who spouted the same deceived errors. I launched into a rebuttal to refute the error of these people who refuse to acknowledge their sin as sin, writing several drafts of more than 3,000 words before I finally decided to shelve the idea. The experience of doing the research and contending with their twisted “reasoning” left me feeling dirty, sick and under attack.

My original desire was to show the error of their interpretations. But after several encounters on-line with commenters (trolls) aggressively pushing the LGBTQ line, I began to feel that they would never be open to listening to any reasoning that put their rationalization in jeopardy. Their minds are so polluted, their attitudes are so distorted, that they simply choose darkness over light. That’s why I was so touched by Patti Height’s testimony [included in the article]. The Holy Spirit can cut through all that garbage. Jesus is the light, and he shines and the darkness cannot hide him.

As far as finding articles that refute their error, the internet is decidedly slanted toward liberal doxies, but sound Biblical scholarship still refutes their lies with the truth. The political/legal arm of the LGBTQ agenda is adamant, aggressive and prolific. Many are swayed by their deception. But the truth will out.

Posted in Christian Attitudes, LGBTQ, Truth | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking To The Future

57 years ago, in 1959, I was 14 years old. Back then, when people thought about what the future would bring, they usually thought in terms of technological advances. They thought of things such as longer life spans with better health, resulting from scientific developments in medicine. They thought of exciting conveniences, such as flying automobiles, and wild, science-fiction contraptions such as telephones that let you see the person you are talking to.

Taken for granted by today’s generation, advances in computer technology have actually made many of our futuristic dreams common, everyday facts of life. The ubiquitous smart phone of today far outstrips the performance capacity of the imagined communicator of the original Star Trek series. When those imaginary science-fiction devices were introduced to us in the 1960s, I was no longer a child, but was already a young adult, serving in the Army in Vietnam.

In what seems to me to be a very short time, we have come a very long way. Back when I was 14, the ability to have such a tremendous access to information was seen as a liberating and empowering force that would revolutionize education, stream-line all gathering, processing and exchanging of information, and in general stimulate a golden age of opportunities for everyone.

Brother! Talk about a futuristic fantasy!

Just the other day another 14 year-old had his 15 minutes of fame. The 8th grader recited a poem titled, White Boy Privilege, and it went viral. Everybody jumped to hear what this ignorant little punk had to say, a child who has no concept of history, no real context, no big perspective, no idea of what the world is like beyond his own protected life experience – a child who can only repeat the liberal bilge he’s been taught.

So his poem goes viral. And adults who share his ignorance and buy into his brand of group-think nod and make their intonations of agreement. This certainly isn’t the future my generation had hoped for. Rather than taking what good we had and building something better, the deconstructionism of post-modern thinking has broken down what used to work and exchanged it for chaos, confusion and fear.

In his poem, the 14 year-old apologizes to non-white, non-male groups of people. But his apologies have no real meaning because he has no intention of either changing himself or making restitution to those he may have offended. His poem has no solution, leads to no corrective action, and doesn’t even hope for improvement. Rather than drawing people together toward universal values, it celebrates the selfish interests served when you reduce the concept of community to whatever kind of people you relate to.

This is a poem of class distinction – a childish, narrow, emotional rant exalting class envy. It is the latest iteration of John Lennon’s song, Imagine, which was by his own admission, a poetic expression of the Communist Manifesto. White Boy Privilege reflects the political philosophy of socialism. That’s what is being taught to children today. It was taught to their parent’s generation, too. No wonder there are so many today who look to big government for solutions to all of life’s problems. It’s what they’ve been taught. And it has created the most ignorant generation ever in the history of the United States of America.

How can I say ignorant? Technology has given us the best access to information in the history of man! But you see, information only works when you pay attention to it. You can have the greatest library in the world, but unless you actually read the books, you remain ignorant.

Socialism is essentially godless. Embracing socialism in effect expunges God from the reality of your life. In socialism the State becomes God. That means your value, your meaning, your success depends on what the government does for you, and what you do for the government. God doesn’t establish laws and morals – government does. God doesn’t make provision for your life – government does.

This is a future I didn’t anticipate when I was 14. A future without God. A future that has forgotten the Noblesse oblige of history, forgotten the words of Jesus, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required,” forgotten that in Western Civilization, it was the church that instituted charities and social services to serve the under-privileged.

White Boy Privilege gives meaningless lip service. Designed to stir up feelings without doing one single helpful thing, it is devoid of moral character. At its most fundamental level it is a lie, based on a myth – the myth that class privilege oppresses minorities. It simply isn’t true.  Not in America.

How did a black man become the President? It could be argued that Obama, being half white, benefitted from his half-white boy privilege. But how did Ben Carson become the world’s pre-eminent brain surgeon? How did Clarence Thomas become a Supreme Court Justice? They had no privileges.

There are many minority women in positions of power and influence today. They had no privileges. Many non-white immigrants come to this country and make a success of their lives. Many of them start on the lowest rung, but because of the opportunities found only here in the United States, they move up the ladder and enjoy great success. That’s why so many from all over the world continue to legally immigrate to this country, because we offer everyone the opportunity to work for their dreams.

And work is the operative word here. Success in life is not something that can be handed out to you by the government. Our government was designed to protect the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of all citizens. But it is up to each citizen to exercise those rights, work out their own lives and find their own success through hard work.

That 14 year-old child doesn’t know what work is, what self-determination is. He doesn’t know that you can’t have freedom without responsibility. He doesn’t know that community includes everyone, not just people who look like you or live like you. He doesn’t know that the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us together to serve one another in love. His ignorance could fill a book.

Deuteronomy 6:18 says, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you”. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Proverbs 21:3 says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13 both urge us not to grow weary in doing good.

These and many other passages give us the Biblical perspective. That perspective is to love one another and serve one another. The Biblical perspective motivates believers in their personal interactions with the world to actually help people and make a difference in their lives. That is a far cry from separating human beings on the basis of racial, cultural, sexual or financial categories. It is a far cry from mindless mob demonstrations aimed at coercing government action. It is a far cry from hatred and violence.

Believers in Christ are called to look beyond all that. Galatians 3:28 teaches that in Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That truth gives us a message of hope, something to believe in, something to work toward. It does not wallow in disappointment or discouragement. It does not credit perceived victims with a special prestige in order to justify retribution. It does not turn one group against another.

Hope in Christ is manifold. First, he offers forgiveness – real forgiveness, not just being let off the hook by making some phony apology. Hope in Christ embodies unity as it draws us together in him. It brings a healing to our souls. By his stripes we are healed. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10). And in him we have a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).

When I was 14 I didn’t understand the gospel of Jesus Christ yet, so there is hope that this 14 year-old of White Boy Privilege fame may still come to learn the truth. But the society that spawned his viral video is deeply flawed, and is more capable of destruction than anything positive. I pray for his future – America’s future – and wonder, will people look to God, glorify God and seek to better themselves by living up to his standards, or will they look to the State, glorify those who govern us and expect the laws they enact to make our lives better?

What does your future hold?


Posted in American Culture, Christian Attitudes, Socialism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and starred in the hit musical, Hamilton. On the site https://www.teerico.com he is selling “Love is Love” tee shirts as a combined fundraising effort to “benefit efforts to secure equality & justice for Florida’s LGBTQ community and the victims of the Orlando tragedy.” Here is what is on the shirt:


Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 2.36.24 PM
The first batch of these shirts has sold out, which shows this effort is receiving strong support.

My take on this is that there are two unique concerns at issue: an attack on America by an Islamic terrorist, and the special interests of “Florida’s LGBTQ community”. To manipulate the natural sympathy that all Americans have for the Orlando victims into a carte blanch approval of deviant sexuality is a victory of emotionalism over critical thought. Otherwise intelligent people just don’t seem to be thinking this through. They can’t seem to get beyond their own pet causes.

To Miranda and his associates the big picture isn’t the threat Islamic terrorism poses to the liberties of all Americans. They see the big picture as whatever threatens libertine LGBTQ lifestyles. This is not surprising since it is narcissism that that feeds these lifestyles, not some noble ideal.

“Love is love” means, “My love is as good as yours.” It’s a narcissistic truism because no one is comparing — that is, no one but the LGBTQs. “Love is love” is an inarticulate truism because like a mathematical equation the value of the terms must be defined. If the term “love” means one thing to you and another thing to me, the meaning of that truism changes according to how the term is defined, thus making it essentially meaningless.

Repeating a truism doth not a profound truth make. The fact is that there are different kinds of love. Not all love is the same. There is love that leads to healing and wholeness, and there is love that dissipates and kills. But to those who support The Cause, “love is love is love is love is love”. All thinking stops here.

What if I were to say, “Food is food”? That too would be meaningless because there’s junk food, ‘real’ food, dog food, fish food, plant food, food for thought, ad nauseum. That kind of non-discrimination does not make for a healthy diet. I would think that intelligent, educated people would want to be a bit more thoughtful than simply repeating truisms.

The big picture from the Orlando terrorism is not about the sexuality of the victims. The big picture is that ALL AMERICANS should be protected from such acts of violence. Yes, homosexuals do not deserve to be ruthlessly gunned down, but the greater issue is that NO ONE deserves that. This is not an issue unique to homosexuals — it affects all of us.
All Americans need to stand together to defeat those whose goal it is to either intimidate us into submission or kill us.

The attack in orlando was against the sovereign right of America and Americans to live according to their own values and conscience. As such, it was an attack on ALL AMERICANS, not just the LGBTQ communities. The big picture is the unacceptable brutality of the perpetrator, who was just one more in a long line of Islamic terrorists. If we, meaning all of us, ever want to be safe again as a nation, we need to adopt a decisive policy to crush all Islamic terrorists.

As others have noted Islam is not compatible with a free society. As a nation, we must unite to defeat the scourge of jihad. That means supporting America and Americanism, which means I still have the right to my own moral convictions. And I don’t have to approve of those with whom I disagree in order to stand with them against the threat of Islam.

The reason for the horrendous slaughter in Orlando is that Islam is based on the Koran, which has produced Sharia law and goes so far in some cases as to prescribe the death penalty for homosexuality. The perpetrator of this insanity made it clear that he was motivated out of a desire to submit to Allah’s approval. He made it clear that he supported the jihad of ISIS. This is the insanity all Americans must stand together against, or our very civilization will be lost.

But the stand we must take together does not require that I support the LGBTQ community. While as a Biblical Christian I believe homosexuality and other aberrant sexual expressions are sinful, my beliefs will never lead me to accept terrorist acts against anyone for any reason. While everyone has the God-given right to believe as they choose and hold the values they choose, no one has the right to slaughter people because of their values.

True liberty means we can peacefully disagree among ourselves. Islamicists hate the kind of freedom we have in this country. I do not support homosexuality nor will I ever support the LGBTQ community, because they stand for a morality that is condemned by the Bible. However, I respect the freedom they have to live according to their own beliefs. That is their right. God created us all with the capacity to choose.

But Islam is the religion of death. The Jihadists’ solution is to kill those who will not submit to them. They are the enemy and defeating them is the issue. Working out our differences over sexuality is not the issue. Only as a free society can we hope to debate any civil matter. Let’s focus on fighting for the liberty of all Americans, not selling a political agenda at the cost of human lives.

If you want to talk about love, consider this: Love is not that you feel a certain way towards another. The Bible teaches that love is God’s gift to us and his sacrifice for us. His love is greater than all others. Don’t cheapen it by thinking love is love is love is love is love.

Posted in LGBTQ, Love, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s Wrong With Socialism?

A friend of mine once mused, “I don’t really see what’s so wrong with Socialism”. And although I have very strong feelings on the subject, I held my peace, not wanting to give vent to them. The problem with being honest is that when most people know you disagree with them, they either attack you as an enemy or withdraw from you in order to avoid conflict.

In his Essay to Leo Baeck, Albert Einstein wrote, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social enviroment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions.” The key to understanding this observation is the word, equanimity, a word and a concept which has largely gone out of style.

Equanimity is remaining calm and composed in a confrontation. It is a quality of being mature and civilized, confident of your own position and yet respectful of the opinions of others. It is a required condition for anyone hoping to bridge the many gaps that separate human beings. And that is what I attempt to do here – express with equanimity what is fundamentally wrong with Socialism.

Attending public schools between 1950 and 1963, I was taught the concensus values of that era, which included the ideal that good people are to handle their disagreements in a reasonable, constructive manner. O course, as an ideal, it was not always lived up to. Nevertheless, most people aspired to equanimity in public debate.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” was a popularly repeated and highly respected refrain, as it was attributed to Voltaire. I never thought differently until I recently read that the quote was something Beatrice Evelyn Hall (under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre) wrote about Voltaire. Nevertheless, the authorship of the quote in no way diminishes its sentiment.

But that was then, this is now. In today’s generation there is little homage paid to equanimity. It is seen as a weakness, a sign of victimhood. Rather than expressing themselves in civilized, composed, informed, rational debate, today’s youth choose violence to force their will. They don’t aspire to win people over to their side through the effective articulation of ideas. They don’t want political debate. Instead, they use mob violence to intimidate and destroy their opposition. So it is with some doubt that I voice my convictions, because I am afraid that the people who need to hear me are the very ones who would be more inclined to beat the crap out of me.

One of the most common traits of Socialism is violence. When governments establish socialist economies, it comes at the price of millions of people’s lives. That’s an empirically observed fact of history. What’s wrong with Socialism?

  1. Socialism is a utopian fantasy which does not work in the real world.

Pragmatically, the only way socialists are able to implement their programs is through dictatorial force. In socialism the State is preeminent, powerful and controlling. Statist control of your own money through taxation (redistribution of wealth) is just one area they seek to regulate.

Socialism claims to seek “The Greater Good”, a euphemism from Utilitarianism diguised as a sort of pure democracy. In reality, there is no such thing as the greater good. I wrote about this in my post, The Greater Good, at https://retiredday.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-greater-good/ ‎

The “greater good” always comes down to what those in power dictate. This philosophy contrasts sharply with American constitutionalism, which is based on the precept enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that God (not government) creates everyone with inalienable rights – one of those rights being “the pursuit of happiness”.

It is important to understand this distinction. The personal right to pursue your own happiness in your own way is abrogated by the government when it compels everyone to abide by whatever makes the most people happy (the goal of utilitarianism). Therefore Socialism inevitably brings about dictatorial powers in government, and the loss of personal freedom.

  1. In order to maintain Socialism, government must become dictatorial, at the sacrifice of the personal freedoms of individuals.

The essence of Socialism is exposed in the eleventh chapter of Genesis. The whole earth was united by one common language. They said, “Come, let us build ourselves…a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (vs 4). God saw a problem with this. He saw that the pride of men caused them to unite together for the purpose of challenging his sovereignty.

In verse 6 the LORD says, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” Don’t miss God’s reason for saying this. There is nothing wrong with unity or human acheivement, such as the construction of a city with a tall tower. But the problem was that they came together for the purpose of defying God (“Let us build ourselves a tower with its top in the heavens.” “Let us make a name for ourselves.”)

The justification they used was so they would not become “dispersed over the face of the whole earth”. This again defies God’s command to Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1 and 9:7). Remember that this command was not simply to Noah but to all humanity who followed. Genesis 9:9 states, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you”.

So, the story of the tower of Babel is one of defying God. It illustrates the principle of Socialism that seeks to trust in the collective efforts of men. Socialism thrives on the potential that there is no limit to what we can do in human unity (“brotherhood”) and organization. Socialism is humanity coming together without God. Assuming the sovereignty of man, the State pushes God aside.

Christians are wise to discern the false “Brotherhood of Man” from the brotherhood we have in Christ as children of God. We are only brothers to those in Christ. We have been called out of the world. We do not belong to the family of Man. We belong to the family of God.

  1. Socialism is anti-God.
Posted in Debate, Freedom, Socialism | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments