Friday, December 26, 2008

The Best Christmas Present Ever!

This Christmas my son gave me the best present any 52-year-old man could ever want. He gave me a Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 dart cannon. It literally looks and operates like an orange and yellow 50-caliber machine gun. It even has an ammo box that you load the belt into and it feeds out the other side as the darts are fired by an internal piston-powered launching system. The Vulcan fires up to three Nerf sonic micro darts per second and has a 25 round ammo belt. In fully auto mode it can fire all 25 rounds in under ten seconds. Very, very cool indeed! My son was wise enough to get me a second ammo belt to go along with it.

After running out to get the required six C cell batteries, I spent all day today “hunting” the cats. They are fast but not fast enough to outrun a determined middle-aged man with a machine gun. The dog is no fun as he just stands there and let’s me shoot him. I am working on building a pill box with pillows to create a machine gun nest using the tripod stand that came with it. I am currently saving to buy the Tactical Rail accessories that go with it including a laser sight and flashlight so I can hunt our cats throughout the house in the dark. I’m also already coveting the other N-Strike arsenal weapons including the giant pistol Maverick with 6-dart rotating barrel that looks like it came from a Terminator movie and the N-Strike Recon CS-6 Blaster which as near as I can tell is a Nerf assault shotgun.

If we would have had toys like this as kids, we would have never come home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Very Good Books

Two very good books I just finished:

Empire of Lies by Andrew Klavan. Jason Harrow is a good Christian man leading a normal life until a phone call from the past plunges him into the dangerous world of terrorists and murder.

Finally--someone portrays a Christian as something other than a wacko nutcase! This book slays more sacred cows and steps in more politically-correct minefields than any mainstream author I have ever read. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how he got a New York publisher to publish this book. Klavan’s clout as a bestselling author with several books made into successful movies must allow him special leverage. Klavan calls it like it is regarding the treatment of Christians and in his portrayal of the left-wing media, academic elites, and politically-correct special interest groups in this country. Not to mention it’s a heck of a well written suspense book. Some Christians may get their nose out of joint about the authentic way Klavan portrays his protagonist but those of us who are honest will recognize ourselves in him.

UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Kinnaman is the president of the Barna Group, the well respected survey and research company. Lyons is founder of Fermi Project, a collective of innovators, social entrepreneurs, and church and society leaders working together to make positive contributions to culture.

This book documents and summarizes three years of research into what younger (primarily 16-29 year olds) people think and feel about Christians and Christianity. It is an eye-opening dialogue about why young people are turning away from Christianity and what we can do about it. Whether we want to admit it or not most people today are becoming more antagonistic towards Christianity and its followers. Accurate or not, Christians are most often perceived as conservative, judgmental, antihomosexual, angry, empire builders, boring, and illogical. This book does a great job of telling us what and why the youth of America think about us and what we can do to offset those perceptions. Again, while many traditionalists may get in a snit about the information in this book, I found it very refreshing and a much needed examination if we are to make a difference in an increasingly hostile world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Quotes

Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 to December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. The Socialist Party candidate for President of the US, Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 speech:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." He went on to say: "I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democrat Party has adopted our platform."

Compare that quote to this one from President Ronald Reagan:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

What do you think about the direction our country is going? Please post a reply.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Genetic Influences

I’m not a particularly big proponent of promoting either the nurture or nature theory exclusively in human development. I think most of us are a combination of both our genetic makeup and the environment we were raised in.

Recently however, I have become more aware of the powerful influence our genetic code plays in our personal development. One rather humorous example of this is the similarities between my biological father and myself. I first met him when I was 24 years old, a fully developed adult human being. Besides looking alike and standing with the same posture, our wives delight in the fact that we also have a predisposition for the same clothing, foods, and sleeping style. Even our personal hygiene habits are eerily similar. Clearly, as I was never influenced by him as a child, these idiosyncrasies are the result of genetic coding that somehow determines my unconscious behavior, choices, and preferences in life.

But I have noticed even more destructive types of behaviors attributed to some form of genetic imprint. Most of us are aware of the generational cycles (or sins) that occur in families and are passed down from generation to generation. Oftentimes these occur from modeled behaviors but I’m convinced many are also derived (or at least influenced) from our genetic makeup. Modeled behaviors, especially from primary caretakers, are a hugely powerful indicator in our own behavioral outcomes. Because of modeled behaviors we often see generations of families where alcoholism, abandonment, or abusive behavior that was modeled by parents is emulated and passed down from one generation to the next. However, genetics also appears to play a significant role in our outcomes, especially if we are unaware of their influence.

I have observed this in many people we work with. For example, virtually every female in every generation of one young woman’s family—for as far back as anyone can remember—has been an unwed, teenage mother. Knowing this predilection, her mother and father were determined to break this “cycle” with their daughter. However, despite raising her in a relatively healthy two-parent environment, being aware of the challenges they faced, and talking with her about those challenges; it took all of their mightiest efforts to keep that genetic legacy from coming to fruition. It was almost as if she was predisposed to make choices and decisions that forced her to accomplish the genetic coding in her DNA. She was prone to make self-destructive decisions and choices (and have attitudes) that reflected those of the women in her heritage, despite not being exposed to that behavior modeled in her family of origin. Thankfully she is now 20 years old so will never be a teenage mother, and hopefully will never be an unwed mother either. But the challenges were and still are formidable in helping her break the cycle that was engrained in her DNA throughout generations of her lineage. This phenomenon is also observed in children that have been adopted who act out in behaviors similar to their birth parents even though never having met them.

Perhaps more often than we recognize we are pre-programmed to make choices that result in outcomes that have a basis in our generational heritage. Being conscious of these historical “tendencies” allows us to make intentional choices to break those generational influences instead of inadvertently falling into a preordained future.