Sep 26, 2005

Common Sense

Common sense is such an important trait of human existence that it has its own theoretical field of inquiry. Philosophy has a branch called Common Sense. Its American influence dates to the eighteenth century philosopher Thomas Reid of Scotland. Isn't it nice to know that common sense has roots and has been validated? It is ironic that scholars feel the need to validate common sense. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge" . . . like academic scholarship, I suppose. I can't blame scholars for wanting to explore the wonderful complexities of common...Read more +
Sep 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita

As Rita approaches the Texas coast, my anxiety rises. I'm anxious for the safety and comfort of the evacuees. I'm anxious for our small city of Kerrville. Although we're out of harm's way, thousands of evacuees are headed here. I hope we have the ability to absorb and help these people. I've noticed already most of the gas stations in town are experiencing shortages. When a storm displaces up to four million people, where do they go? They can't go east and south, so they go north and west. The highways can't accommodate the enormous number of vehicles traveling at...Read more +
Sep 22, 2005

Incredible Person

Knowing that my work brought me in contact with lots of people, a friend asked me, "Who's the most famous person you've ever met?" My immediate thought was, "How strange." I started to think about it, but I decided that no good would come out of my answering his question or even thinking in those terms. I can't help reflecting on my friend's inquiry, though. It's sad, really. We are so impressed by celebrity that we mistake it for excellence. My friend's question assumed I rub elbows with some incredible people. Well he's right, I do. Let me tell you...Read more +
Sep 19, 2005

Relationships or Networking?

When did "building relationships" become a euphemism for networking? On television a few weeks ago, I saw an interview with some Hollywood agent. He said his basketball league with others in the entertainment industry was "good for building relationships." That's a fair statement, I suppose. Playing basketball together is a good way for people to get to know each other. But as the interview progressed, it became apparent what he really meant. The league was a good place to network. If I get to know these people better, they can help me sometime later. Networking is fine. There is nothing...Read more +
Sep 15, 2005

Facts Not in Evidence

I'm a fan of the TV series Law and Order . The judges on that show are always telling over-eager attorneys that they assume "facts not in evidence." Those judges could be talking to me. Assessing situations quickly and making decisions based on instinct or intuition is a strength of mine. However, sometimes I assume facts not in evidence. Sometimes I jump to conclusions. But even when I don't, I should remember that my conclusions are my opinions—not facts. One particular incident sticks with me, because it is such a clear illustration of this point. We had an offsite meeting...Read more +
Sep 12, 2005

Why do you work?

Why do you work? What are you working for? These questions are so cliché in Christian circles they teeter on trite. Yet they really are the only questions worth asking any worker. We can work for the money, our families, a great cause or mission. We can work to stay busy or to impress our boss or coworkers. Some people work out of obligation. Some people work for the thrill. However, the follower of Jesus works for just one reason—to honor God. But still I have trouble escaping my cynical attitude. I don't like to be overlooked, unappreciated, or reprimanded...Read more +
Sep 8, 2005

Products of Marketing

We are products of marketing. Advertising, publicity, spin, buzz, and positioning all influence what we believe about ourselves. Celebrity and wealth are high ideals. We're told to value individual achievement over corporate success, personal expression over community standards, and "me" over everybody else. All we have to do is read a paper or magazine, watch television, go to a movie, listen to radio, look at a billboard, ride a bus, catch a train, hail a cab . . . you get the idea. We're bombarded by these messages. I have read that Americans see anywhere from 300 to 3,000 advertisements...Read more +
Sep 5, 2005

Bitterness Imprisons Life

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it. Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it. Bitterness sickens life; love heals it. Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes. —Harry Emerson Fosdick At some time in life, we're all faced with the prospect of bitter feelings. If we're not mindful of what's happening, or if we just let bitterness go unchecked, it can consume us. Everyone and everything we touch becomes infected. My bitterness grows out of self-centeredness. When I am self-centered, I interpret events in my life as good or bad depending on how they influence me,...Read more +
Sep 1, 2005


The devastation from Hurricane Katrina overwhelms us with concern for our neighbors. We pray. We donate. Some of us will volunteer. Yet how do we respond when people talk about the total loss of a city? There is talk about not rebuilding New Orleans. What does that mean? Where would its inhabitants go? How would other communities absorb these people into their economies? How does one begin life anew after years or generations of life in one city? On a much smaller scale, the tiny Texas town of Jarrell lost twenty-seven people to a tornado in May, 1997. The emotional...Read more +
Aug 29, 2005

Facing Death

My parents died when I was in my twenties. Mom died from blood poisoning and Dad from lung cancer. The difference is that Dad had choices. He decided cancer treatments only prolonged the inevitable. He was only in his seventies, strong and fit for his age, but the prognosis for recovery was bleak. Rather than stay in the hospital, he went home to enjoy his final weeks surrounded by people he loved. Twenty years later, one of my older brothers faced the same circumstances. Fred was in his early sixties when liver cancer began consuming his body. The odds were...Read more +