A New Era

Welcome. This is intended to be a news and information site, with lots of stops in between. Feel free to barge right in and join – or begin – any conversation. I only ask that you observe the generally practiced niceties which we sometimes call “netiquette.”


  • Don’t swear at one another
  • Don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain

    At Prague Cafe, Kunming China

  • Don’t make personal attacks
  • Verify when possible.
  • Enjoy

More Reminiscing

This is the group I was involved with in the US Navy. I went to CTT school in 1962. This is copied from another CT veteran.

The Birth of the Communications Technician Rating

In 1948 the majority of the wartime Specialist ratings were disestablished. At that time the Communications Technician Rating (CT) was established; the Specialist Q ratings CR, TE, and IN were incorporated into the CT rating. Four CT career fields were identified as branches:

• A – Administrative

• O – Communications

• M – Maintenance

• R – Collection

Although the CT rating comprised four distinctly different branches, the service member’s branch was not a part of the rating designator.

📷Note: CAPT Holtwick, after serving as commanding officer of USS Platte (AO 24) was assigned to Headquarters, Naval Security Group as head of the Personnel and Administrative Department. In that position CAPT Holtwick is credited with establishing the Communications Technician (CT) rating in the Navy with it various branches for enlisted personnel.


In the 1956/1957 time frame, the CT rating was further sanitized when all the “General Service” ratings still serving in the Communications Intelligence field (Radioman, Teleman etc.) were converted to CT.

In 1960 two additional career fields were added to the CT rating: the Technical Branch (T) for non-morse operations and the Interpretive Branch (I) to identify linguists. Prior to 1960 the duties assigned to the T and I branch personnel had been assigned to various other branches.

Effective 1 May 1970 the CT rating was further refined when the addition of the “branch” to the CT rating designator. The third letter rating designator was added to better identify and manage each branch.

26 March 1976 BuPers Notice 1220 announced the change in title for the Communications Technician rating to the below six Cryptologic Technician ratings. The purpose of this action was to bring the designation of the Communications Technician (CT) into consonance with the Warrant Officer (744X), Restricted Line (161X) and the Limited Duty Officer (644X) Cryptologic communities.

• CTA –Administrative Branch

• CTI – Interpretive Branch

• CTM – Maintenance Branch

• CTO – Communication Branch

• CTR – Collection Branch (MM)

• CTT – Technical Branch (SpecSigs, Classic Wizard, OPELINT, TechELINT)

1991 – CTR assumed Special Signals and Morse code

📷01 Oct 2003 – EW rating converted to CTT rating.


10 Fascinating Facts About a Hospital Stay in the Czech Republic

I was living in Prague, the beautiful capitol city of the Czech Republic, when I got sick. A scary prospect at any time, but besides being in a foreign country with limited facility in the language, I was unaccustomed to being sick. I ended up in the hospital for three weeks. Here are some of the fascinating facts, I picked up along the way.

1. It’s called a “nemocnice.”
Well, it’s unlikely they’d call it a hospital since that’s an English word, and the language of the Czech Republic, not too surprisingly, is Czech. The particular hospital in which I spent that lovely interlude was called, “Fakultni Nemocnice Motol.” Czech is a Slavic language, related to Russian, Polish, and a few other Slavic tongues. It

 has also been influenced by Latin. Like most national languages, it has developed and evolved independent of the related languages. It’s a relatively difficult language for Americans to learn. The Foreign Service Institute ranks Czech as a Class IV language, meaning, “Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English.” (LINK 1). They don’t use a lot of vowels, and some words are difficult to pronounce. A good word to learn, however, is zmrzlina, which means ice cream.

2. The doctors are not MDs. They’re MuDrs.
Czechs, and other Europeans, are fond of titles. They’re important in that society. When I had cards printed in Prague, I had to make sure that I used my professional title, something I would not do in the United States. But the designations of the various degrees are not necessarily the same as in the US or UK. For instance, the master’s degree is referred to as the magisterské stadium. On a business card or an office door the person’s title would appear as Mgr (magistr). A lawyer would take the degree JuDr, and a PhD, would be designated PhDr. All of these would be prominently displayed on the business card. (LINK 2).

3. The ICU is called the JIP.
While I was in the hospital (nemocnice, remember), I was moved around a bit. I was in five different rooms in those three weeks. First I was in a seemingly private room (there was, after all, nobody there but me) in the infectious disease ward. This was, of course, in a separate building. They didn’t know what was wrong with me. Since I’d been in deepest, darkest Africa the previous year, they didn’t want to take any chances. When I had a bit of a crisis, I had to go to emergency surgery. My outpost was so far away from the main building that I had to be taken by an internal ambulance to the other side of the campus. After that surgery, I was put into the Gastroenterology JIP. This is the Czech designation for the ICU. It stands for Jednotka Intenzivni Pece, which, surprisingly, translates literally as Intensive Care Unit. BTW, after leaving that JIP, I was placed in a ward. Then I had a heart attack. Off to the Kardiac JIP, after placement of a stent.

4. All the doctors speak some English.
One of the biggest fears as one enters a foreign hospital may be that you aren’t going to understand the doctors. You might end up agreeing to have your liver cut out, when all you need is a zit lanced. But, have no fear. You can count on your doctor to have some English. For many, especially those trained in the post-communist era, it’s part of their training. It’s also true that many Czech medical professionals continue their training in English-speaking countries. But, don’t assume that their English comprehension is absolute. If it’s possible to have a translator around, that’s a good thing. At times, after getting an explanation from the doctor in English, I would hear the explanation given to a friend in Czech. Invariably it took four or five times as long to explain (presumably) the same thing. But, they do have some English. (LINK 3)

5. The nurses probably do not.
In the several different accommodations I had the pleasure of inhabiting while at Motol (the nemocnice). I found several levels of both English and nursing care. In the JIP almost every nurse had conversational English. This proves very helpful when he or she comes to hook up yet another IV, or give another shot. It also helps when it is necessary to explain one’s bathroom needs or level of pain. These nurses (referred to as sestra – sister – even the men) were skilled in all the aspects of nursing which I required. They drew blood painlessly and gave shots in the same manner. In the wards, however, such was not the case. English was really lacking and the level of care ebbed considerably. These wards are where I experienced the most discomfort and pain. I decided that the top 10 percent of the nursing classes must end up in the JIP, while those in the wards may not have graduated at all.

6. “Neni krev” is a good thing.
It’s amazing how much Czech you can learn while in the hospital. Of course, the phrases one learns are not readily transferable to any other part of society. For instance, it was here that I learned the importance of the accents in Czech. The Czech word moc that I had been singing about in church means power. But don’t confuse it with the word moč. That one means urine. Since I started out with abdominal surgery, it was some time before I was allowed to get up and walk to the bathroom like a big boy and do what was necessary. Even when that great event occurred, I had to stop on my way out of the toilet (toaleta) and report either krev or neni krev. Neni krev is the one I wanted to report. It means “no blood.” (LINK 4).

7. Men and women share the bathroom in the wards.
The wards in each department had the same configuration; three beds against a wall, separated by hanging sheets. A television, with one remote sat in the middle (BTW, did you know that Walker, Texas Ranger speaks Czech?). On the way out the door we find a bathroom. In this room are two sinks, one toilet, and one shower. Straight across the narrow room from the door is another door. It leads to the women’s ward. That’s right. Six patients, half male, half female, shared one toilet and one shower. The doors did not lock. I tended to wait until after midnight to get my showers, but my abdominal surgery forced me to have other needs considerably more frequently.

8. Want sleep – go home.
This one, of course, is pretty universal. One does not go to the hospital to rest. Late at night the sestri, (plural for sestra) would be at your bedside to take blood, administer meds, and probably a dozen other things I never quite understood. Then through the night the sounds of the hospital, coughing, wheezing, moaning, sometimes yelling, would continue. After all that sweet slumber, bright and early in the morning, a different sestra (yes, they got to go home and get some shuteye) would come in and test blood (krev), urine (moč), temperature, blood pressure, measure out the meds, and a few other things. I did learn to catch naps during the day, while I waited for the next contingent of MuDr wannabes to come through on rounds. It is a teaching hospital.

9. Want coffee – forget it, but “white coffee” is in the hallway.
I’m not an addict. I can quit coffee anytime I want. But, I didn’t want to when I was forced to reside at Fakultni Nemocnice Motol. On my first transfer into the wards, I found out that I could have a drink anytime I wanted one. All I had to do was go out into the corridor and get it myself. The offerings included fruit tea and something called “white coffee.” Now I have attempted to find out exactly what constitutes white coffee, to no avail. It certainly is not what some Americans would consider white coffee, dark, caffeinated brew with cream added. Two facts, however, I can attest. It is neither white, nor coffee. The first was obvious. It is a sickly pale brownish, concoction. Taste was negligible. The second fact is that it is not coffee. This I did find out when I asked an English-speaking sestra. “No,” said she, “we could not allow you to drink a caffeinated beverage.” But, I could have as much white coffee as I wanted. At breakfast, they even brought a cup.

10. Want beer – bring your own.
Beer is another matter. Remember, we’re talking about the Czech Republic here, the home of the first pilsner beer (Pilsner Urquell) and the original Budweiser (Budvar). Beer is the primary beverage in the nation. Czechs average 140 liters (37 gallons) of beer each every year. (LINK 5). The beer is so good that Germans junket to Prague to drink Czech beer. I have friends who go to a conference in Germany once each year. They always load up the trunk of their vehicle with Czech beer to share with their underprivileged German colleagues.
Well, there I was lying in my hospital bed, when I heard a visitor come to see the man in the bed to my left. I thought I heard the sound of bottles clinking and I looked over to see the visitor taking two bottles of Krušovice (one of the popular brands) from a paper bag. He’d forgotten the opener, so he asked one of the staff for one. And he got it. So, the two friends, one of whom had just gotten through abdominal surgery, just as I had, sat and chatted and enjoyed a beer together for a half hour or so. But, it is not on the menu (there really is no menu). It’s definitely BYOP – Bring Your Own Pivo.

11. BONUS: it’s not called Czechoslovakia anymore.
When people ask me where I lived (sadly I don’t live there anymore) and I answer Prague, more often than not they would respond, “Oh, Czechoslovakia.” No, the Czech Republic. Czechoslovakia came into existence with the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1917. It’s existence ended on January 1, 1993 when the two peoples, the Czechs and the Slovaks, separated and created the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. They remain on the best of terms. In fact the split has been referred to as the Velvet Divorce, a reference to the Velvet Revolution of 1989, during which Czechoslovakia split from the Soviet Empire without firing a shot. (LINK 6).


LINK 1: http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty.

LINK 2: http://www.czech.cz/en/66997-academic-titles

LINK 3: http://www.valuemd.com/palacky.php

LINK 4: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/czech.htm

LINK 5: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/26/in-country-where-water-is-pricier-than-beer-czech-official-seeks-change/

LINK 6: http://www.prague-life.com/prague/velvet-revolution

Heresy, Cults, False Gospels

There are so many branches and offshoots of spiritual fa;sehgood that we can only mention a few, most of which you will probably at least recognize, but some of which may surprise you.


Astrology is big business today. There are over 10,000 full-time astrologers and over 175,000 part-time astrologers in the United States. Over 2,000 newspapers carry daily astrological readings. Zodiac jewelry has become popular. Even restaurant table mats have horoscopes!  

  1. The Scriptures condemn it as an abomination before God and an occult tool of satanic origin and power (II Kings 17:16; 23:5; Isa. 47:13; Amos 5:26).
  2. Astrology is not a science but only a superstition i.e., a fraud. The scientific evidence against astrology is irrefutable.

Native American religion

“Native American Religions for instance offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth.”[Al Gore, Earth In the Balance; Ecology and the Human Spirit, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.].

This attitude is representative of modern both New Age consciousness and the ignorance of those seeking solace in anything but Christ. Just as many voters in the last presidential election supported “anybody but Trump,” New Agers recognize that they can’t play fast and loose with Christianity. So they seek something “noble” and “earthy.” If you’ve ever read the Last of the Mohicans, you’ve probably noticed the juxtaposition of the Noble Savage over against the wacky protestant clergyman who goes running through the middle of a battle shouting Psalms aloud. You’ve probably also heard references to Mother Earth and the respect of the native Americans (formerly know as Indians) for the earth and all the elements. Many New Agers have started practicing such practices as using Shamans (medicine man/woman; magic; incantations) and sweat lodges to clear the spirit and get in touch, etc.)

Native Americans can be just as savage as other human beings. Native Americans, BTW, also resent the New Age trying to horn in” on their religious practices.

Robert Bly teaches “manhood” by getting men back to their “roots.” For Bly this means sweat lodges drum beating and being environmentally aware.

The Unity School

Origins: Unity began in Kansas City in 1889. Both Charles (a spiritist with no Christian background) ) and Myrtle (raised a Methodist) Filmore were involved with Christian Science and claimed that principles in Christian Science lead to healings in their lives. However, they disagreed with the Christian Science doctrine that matter is not real. They broke away, taught the reality of matter (Christian Science denies the reality of matter) and added, among other doctrines, the belief in reincarnation. Charles even believed he was the reincarnation of Paul the apostle. The Fillmores studied Hinduism and wove many of its other principles into their philosophy as their new religion grew. Unity is a mind science cult.

Doctrines: Unity School of (pseudo) Christianity denies the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the necessity of the atonement of Jesus for our sins, heaven, hell, sin, and the existence of the devil. Unity teaches reincarnation. “The second birth is that in which we ‘put on Christ.’ It is a process of mental adjustment and body transmutation that takes place right here on earth.” They are largely vegetarians. It teaches that experience, if you are ‘in tune’ with God, is more accurate and reliable than the Bible. God, though, is a divine universal consciousness. Man is a part of that Divine Consciousness and is, therefore, divine by nature.
      Unity separates Jesus from Christ saying that Jesus was a man, but that we all possess the Christ consciousness within us. Christ is the one complete idea of perfect man and divine Mind. Atonement is the reconciliation of our minds with the Divine Mind. It says that the Holy Spirit is a latent power within every one of us.
      “Problems” disappear when you think correctly; that is, when you think according to the principles of divine mind as revealed in Unity. God is within us all as well as creation. “God slumbers in the rocks. God stirs in the flowers. God awakens in Man.” All are children of God and Jesus was simply here to show us what we, as children of God, can do. It denies that Jesus is God in flesh and that he is to be worshiped. “But because He remained in a high state of spiritual consciousness, He became the ethical Messiah of the world.”
      Following are quotes from Charles Fillmore’s book Christian Healing, Unity School of Christianity, Unity Village, MO. They are at the end of each chapter in his book and are meant as summarizations and points of meditation.

  • “God is the name of my good” (p. 17).
  • “God is the name of the everywhere Principle, in whom I live, move, and have my being” (p. 17).
  • “I am the son of God, and the Spirit of the Most High dwells in me” (p. 29).
  • “I am the only begotten son, dwelling in the bosom of the Father” (p. 29).
  • “I am the Christ of God” (p. 29).
  • “I and my Father are one” (p. 29).
  • “I am one with Almightiness” (p. 29).
  • “God is good, and God is all, therefore I refuse to believe in the reality of evil in any of its forms” (p. 60).
  • “My perfection is now established in Divine Mind” (p. 83).  
  • “I see the light of the Christ consciousness always” (p. 106).

Publications: Wee Wisdom, for Children; Good Business, for business people; Weekly Unity, their devotional magazine. They use mail order extensively. There are many other writings some of which are “Mysteries of Genesis” and “Christian Healing” both by Charles Fillmore.


Much of the environmental movement has gotten back to its pagan roots as it subtly fosters rejection of the Bible and Christianity. The Sierra Club Environmental Health Sourcebook, Well Body, Well Earth, tells us to “turn to the traditions of ancient cultures” such as Buddhist meditations and Native American Hopi rituals in order to “reaffirm our bond with the spirit of the living earth.” “The more you contact the voice of the living Earth and evaluate what it says, the easier it will become for you to contact it and trust what it provides.” In the New Age environmentalists view, starvation, plagues, and death are blessings that simply buy more time for planet Earth. They are pantheistic; their god is an impersonal god, who resides passively in every fiber of the universe; to them, to destroy a plant is to destroy their god; to decimate the quality of human life, on the other hand, is of no concern, because humanity represents the greatest danger to the rest of creation.

Greens in all categories generally agree on one point: Today’s ecological crises is rooted in Christian traditions. They tell us:

The Judeo/Christian belief that God assigned man to “rule over” the earth has caused us to exploit and abuse it. Sound familiar? There is a wing of one of the political parties that also accepts this viewpoint.

Perhaps more influential in raising the religion of environmentalism in recent years was the Clinton/Gore administration. President Clinton and his New Age spokesman, Al Gore, consistently pushed an agenda of “control” and promoted false “science” using their office and taking advantage of the Leftist “education” establishment to make sure our kids knew nothing else. The teaching of Humanism in the schools for several decades has created a spiritual vacuum in the hearts of our people and it has opened those hearts to receive the New Age Spiritual answers such as Vice President Gore’s solutions. We have a pantheistic, pagan type philosophy dominating the thinking of the Vice President of the United States who is a zealous New Ager advocating “a new faith in the future” which will be a return to paganism’s worship of the earth as sacred. Gore identifies the root problem of Western culture in that “we lost our feeling of connectedness to the rest of nature” and finds answers in pantheism. He attempts to blend Christianity and pantheism where the source of all life, instead of God has become Mother God, (Mother Earth/Mother Nature also frequently referred to as Gaia). He, like the radical eco-feminists who support him, see the earth as the pagan goddess Gaia who “has been seriously ‘wounded’ by the expansion of human civilization, and now there must come a universal atonement for these many millennia of grief on ‘her’ part” through an event or process they call ‘cleansing.’

For Gore and other environmentalists, the Judeo-Christian faith is the source of ecological evil, from oil spills to global warming. He asserts it is ignorant Christians who are afraid to open their minds to teachings outside their own system of belief who have become a dangerous threat to the survival of humanity…blights on the environment. To Al Gore, it seems obvious that a better understanding of a religious heritage preceding our own by so many thousands of years could offer us new insights.

“The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously through the world has … spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civiilzation’s responsibility for the earth is concerned.” (pp. 258-259)

What’s the point? No sees God. No not one (Romans 3:11). Man wants to be “spiritual,” but he does not wish to do it God’s way. Man will worship anything but the God who made him.

The New Age Gospel

There are some similarities between the various brands of false gospel. Let’s look at just a few of them (there will be more later).

New Ageism embraces supernaturalism, but ascribes it to the creature, not the Creator Jesus was not and is not the only Christ, nor is he God.

Some may think that everyone means the same thing when they say “Christ.” Christians see the one and only begotten Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many New Age writers on the other hand refer to a Christ spirit. They believe there have been many Christs, Jesus being only one of many.

New Age prophetess Alice Bailey an author of many occult books, including The Reappearance of The Christ, describes the “Avatar of Synthesis,” who she says is a “close Associate” of “the Christ.” She says: “He works under the great natural Law of Synthesis, producing at-one-ment, unification and fusion. His function (in unison with the energy of Christ) is to generate spiritual will in humanity, the will-to good.


The New Ager understands Christ as a reincarnated avatar, Messiah, or messenger sent from the ‘hierarchy’ to give the living on earth spiritually advanced revelation. The New Age accepts that Buddha,

Mohammed, Confucius, Jesus, and many others were ‘Christ’.
The Baha’i World Faith claims to be in perfect harmony with the Christian Faith yet see the historical Jesus as only one of several manifestations of Christ on equal ground as Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zoroastrian, Buddha, Mohammed, the Bab, and their founder: Baha’u’llah.

“God” is impersonal, cosmic, a God of energy forces.
All things, including man, constitute, the ONE – called Universal Mind, The Source, Universal Self, Cosmic Consciousness, Universal Presence, or The Force” – your Inner Voice, Higher Self, or Intuition. ” God is an impersonal energy; force, immanent in all things (including man). God can be referred to either as she or he, mother or father, god or goddess. Do not be deceived! New Agers do not mean God or Jesus Christ of the Bible. Most New Age teachers hold that Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars, indeed all of Nature can be worshipped as God.

Man is himself God, for he consists of and is the creator of “the forces.” Man already exercises the powers inherent in his divinity and needs only to awaken to this fact.  (as in Romans 1:22-24). They flaunt the “I am God” concept as it naturally appeals to man’s ego and thirst for power, an appeal as old as the Garden of Eden.    

Man should seek and accept spiritual instruction and direction directly from the spirit world.

The lure of the occult is almost always on the basis of acquiring knowledge or power. We crave a knowledge that is esoteric, not normally available to the ordinary person. We want to experience a power that is spiritual and supernatural in origin. People don’t seem to want to hear what God has to say, they want information and direction from someone else who “knows”; a psychic, a channeler, a palm-reader, a card-reader, Ouija boards, astrology, magic charming, automatic writing, or the spirit of a dead friend of relative. In a sense these are God-given desire, but they are intended to be fulfilled by the knowledge and power which comes from God. However, Satan is busy trying to pass off his counterfeits for God’s knowledge and power as the real thing. If he can get us to accept his versions of knowledge and power, he has a foothold in our life.

All religions and religious teachings lead to the same goal. All are equally of merit.

Satan’s primary tactic in opposing God is not to foster atheism but religion; not to prove there is no God but to be worshipped as God.   
The New Age does express a cloudy sort of religion, claiming vague connections with both Christianity and the major faiths of the East (New Agers like to say the Jesus spent 18 years in India absorbing Hinduism and the teachings of Buddha), plus an occasional dab of pantheism and sorcery. The underlying faith is a lack of faith in the orthodoxies of rationalism, high technology, routine living, spiritual law-and-order. Somehow, the New Agers believe, there must be some secret and mysterious shortcut or alternative path to happiness and health.

“Ecumenism is essential in creating a “Christianity” which embraces all religions

.Psychology plays a major ecumenical role by providing common faith, language and ritual for everyone from atheists, cultists and occultists to Roman Catholics and evangelicals.” [Dave Hunt, “Mystery Babylon Part II,” The Berean Call, August 1993]

The “ancient wisdom” of Babylon, Egypt and Greece – not the Bible – is the basis of all truth.

Vice President Albert Gore in his book Earth in the Balance; Ecology and the Human Spirit, reveals himself as a person who believes we should have a “mother goddess” that we can worship. He points back to ancient religions and Hinduism and says that they have something good in their worship of “mother earth,” and claims that our modern slogan should be the worship of “mother earth”; that man and nature are one, and that God is part of nature, and nature is part of God. On pages 258 through 259 of his book, he shows where he departed from the Baptist faith and entered in to the New Age Religion. He says “The richness and diversity of our religious tradition through out history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief.” “This Pan-religious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilizations responsibility for the earth is concerned.” “Native American Religions for instance offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth.”[Al Gore, Earth In the Balance; Ecology and the Human Spirit, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.]

Sin and evil do not exist. Peace and love are the ultimate realities.

New Agers deny the existence of a hell (gehenna fire) and a judgment. They also deny that sin and evil exist. God (The universe) is alleged to be beyond good and evil.

The New Age gospel is not a system of revolutionary principles. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us.” It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed.

Before leaving this topic today I will mention a new entry in this race to hell, the religion of “Wokism.” It is best described by this article is the Federalist.

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…

Summertime is a little easier on most of us. Even if we have to work fulltime- there’s more sunlight and we tend to do pleasurable things in the evenings and on the weekends. This may be a bit different in the year of COVID, but to some extent the rules of summer still apply. This is also the time of year that newspapers and magazines publish those lists of books we should read during the summer. World magazine usually has a whole section on summer reading. I confess that most of those lists just give me a guilty conscience. I read one of the lists once and went down to the library looking for one of the titles. It happens there was a waiting list – so I put my name on the list. When I got the book, I was bored with it. I kept trying, but I just couldn’t get through it. I ended up returning it, half read, and late.
I have a little list for all of us today, that really shouldn’t cause much guilt – and in fact could be just what we need – spiritually – to recharge our batteries. I want to look at these four items just briefly.

1. Spend time with real friends.
Make time to get together with people that you like; people you trust; people who are good for you; people who won’t spend all their time complaining and being negative. (We all spend enough time with them, don’t we?). READ Galatians 6:2. The Apostle Paul tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ.” He wasn’t just talking about physical burdens. In this trying period, especially, may carry emotional, psychological, grief-related burdens.
So, besides, having time together to relax – you can consider this a summer project – to share burdens with others of like faith and general worldview. Remember always that sharing and burden bearing go both ways. Building a relationship with someone means being able to share your own burdens, too! In order to share burdens, you need to get to know one another; learn to trust one another. For some of us that’s a difficult thing. But God wants us to be brothers and sisters – not in the way we learned at home; not in the sense of sibling rivalries and all the other unhealthy behaviors we may have learned – but in the sense of God’s family. He wants us to love and trust one another – and bear one another’s burdens. That’s what brothers and sisters are for.

2. Spend time in prayer.

READ Phil. 4:4-7. God cares about us. He wants to hear from us. It doesn’t have to be a special kind of prayer you learned in church. Just a conversation w/ God. And it doesn’t always have to be asking for something – just a “check-in” is good!
Is this some kind of magic wand? No. But God wants us to have what’s good for us. Sometimes he even answers us in a way much better than we had hoped. When I lived on Grand Cayman, our water came from a cistern in the back yard. We had no other source of water. When drought hit our part of the island, the cistern got very low. We could see rain fall on other parts of the island. But not ours. The situation was getting desperate. We prayed for rain but none came our way. One day a water truck pulled up and the driver asked if this was the minister’s house. Then he proceeded to fill our cistern to overflowing. God had taken care of us and didn’t need our direction as to how.

3. Spend some time reading the Bible.

Besides being very instructive, the Bible can be very comforting. Here are just a couple of my favorite passages for when things aren’t going exactly the way I instructed God they should be going: Psalm 27:1; Psalm 62:1-2.
A few years back a friend of ours called –sort of out of the blue – and shared a verse with me that she had read that morning. It was a great comfort to her (READ Is. 46:3-4). You know, I found it comforting, too, to realize – again – that God isn’t going to forget about me just because I’m getting older. Just because I’m not the warrior I might have been a few years ago, I’m not less valuable to Him. AND this is not from just some nice book of parables and folk wisdom this comes straight from God’s Word!

4. Spend a little time w/ Jesus.

If you haven’t already – turn to Jesus for the best comfort you can get. READ Matthew 11:28-30.
Enjoy what you can of the summer. You won’t be going it alone.

Truth and the Spiritual World

In a day gone by – but not too long ago – in every schoolhouse in the nation you could the strains of the same song being sung by students and teachers alike:

The Age of Aquarius.
When the moon is in the 7th house

And Jupiter aligns with Mars,

Then peace will guide the planets
And love will fill your heart;
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

This was more than a song: it was an anthem; a theme song; a spirit was in the air. Materialism; naturalism were being replaced by or, illogically, joined by, a new spiritual quest. People were beginning once again to recognize that they are spiritual creatures, but they didn’t know how to define it; and felt that they couldn’t count on the 

traditions of the West – like Christianity. So they sought wisdom from the East.

But neither esoteric spirituality, nor anti-Christian religion was new in what we call the New Age religions. Heresy was part of the Church from its very beginnings. This is why a series of “Ecumenical Councils” were held by the church over the first few centuries of its existence. This why such documents as the Nicene Creed and the Creed of Chalcedon came into existence, to clarify the difference between orthodoxy and spiritualist heresy.

One of the 1st heresies in the new Church was called Gnosticism. A secret-society type of religion with two different gods – a good one and an evil one, fighting for control of the universe. Gnosticism was also a popular movement, characterized by symbolic rites, mystic ceremonies, and the teaching of magic formulas. In the initiation into these associations strange formulas and rites formed an important part. Yet Gnosticism claimed to be Christian in character. Whenever possible, it appealed to the words of Jesus explained in an allegorical way, and to a so-called secret tradition handed down from the times of the Apostles. Many received its teachings as genuine Christian truth.

We see several modern cults with roots in the ancient heresy, most notably Mormonism and masonry; with their adherence to secret knowledge for a privileged class and emphasis on secret rituals and formulas.

But today, we associate spiritualism with something loosely called New Age religion. Though the New Age really escapes precise definition one thing we know is that it is not really new. It’s a blend of ancient heresies; humanism; eastern philosophies, native-American religions, and the fallout from the leftist counterculture of the 60s.

In the next few weeks we will look at a few of the common characteristics of the New Age.  

I’m Loving It. A Mini-Memoir

In the fall of 1965, I was stationed aboard USS Georgetown which was berthed in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (VA). Soon to be out of the Navy, I had decided I would attend college. I had never been to a college campus. I knew nothing about the whole experience. As far as I knew, I was the first in my family to graduate from high school.
I signed up to take the SAT test at Old Dominion College in Norfolk. I must have taken a taxi, but I arrived on campus, took the exam, and Lo and behold, I was accepted at the only college where I had applied, Southern Connecticut State College, in New Haven. On the date of my interview, I took a train from Providence to New Haven. Then I walked the 3.3 miles to the campus. Successful, I joined the crowd of incoming freshmen. It was an eventful four years which included marriage, anti-war rallies, and falling in love with learning.
Forward to June 13, 1970. Graduation Day. I had earned a BS in Political Science, a discipline I had not even heard of prior to attending college. I was to go on to earn three more degrees.
Fifty years. Hard to believe. There has been no 50th reunion, due to COVID 19. That’s OK. I’ll live.
When I crossed the stage that June day, I passed Dr. John Iatrides, my Political Science mentor. He looked at me and said, “I hope you don’t think this is beneath you.” I looked back and said, “Are you kidding me? I’m loving it.”

Battling for Truth

Last week I wrote about the battle for truth against many competing claims. The battle calls for Christians to adhere to a worldview which is consistent with what is, rather than what we might hope for.

How do we go about creating a Christian worldview which will challenge the prevailing relativistic philosophies without compromising our precious faith? Nancy Pearcey’s answer is simple: hard work. She writes
Despite the common stereotype, intellectual questions are not always merely a smokescreen for spiritual or moral problems. To be effective in equipping young people and professionals to face the challenge of a highly educated secular society, the church needs to redefine the mission of pastors and youth leaders to include training in apologetics and worldview. We must refuse to dismiss objections to the faith as mere spiritual subterfuge, but instead prepare ourselves to give what [Francis A.] Schaeffer called “honest answers to honest questions.”
(P. 127, Total Truth)

What a novel idea. Pastors acting like shepherds. Pastors showing more concern for the body than for the body count. This, I believe, is what Paul had in mind when he wrote,

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV).

That Pearcey, or anyone else, has to write that we need to change the church in order to prepare believers to combat the various and ever-changing winds of teaching, indicates how far the church itself has drifted from its mission.

Closing Statement:

“Christianity is not a series of truths in the plural, but rather truth spelled with a capital “T.” Truth about total reality, not just about religious things.

Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality – and the intellectual holding of that total truth and then living in the light of that Truth.”
-Francis Schaeffer at Notre Dame University, April 1981.

You Can’t Handle the Truth

In the past few weeks I have brought up, in various venues, the question, “What is Truth?” With no set schedule, I would like to take a look at that question.

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). This is a very good question these days, when everything is viewed as “relative”; law is built on sociology, not truth. Competing religions and belief systems call out to us like hawkers at a carnival: “Hey, you, look over here. I’ve got the best truth.” Others tell us that everybody has the truth – until somebody steps up and says they’re a Christian. Then we get a sort of “selective relativism.”

How can we know what’s true? How can we sort out the charlatans from the purveyors of truth? Related questions include: “What does it matter what’s true? Do we really need to know?”

If Christianity is true, then sin has invaded the world and men need salvation from the consequences of that sinfulness. If I cannot know that this is true, I will be lost – and suffer whatever those consequences are. If there is no God, as many modern teachers claim, then it really doesn’t matter what’s true. Is it worth the risk not to make an attempt to discover what’s true.

The correspondence view of truth, held by the vast majority of philosophers and theologians throughout history until recently, holds that any statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees with factual reality. If I tell you that a hymnal is red I have made a statement which corresponds to reality or it doesn’t.
Another principle of logic, the principle of contradiction states that “A cannot be non-A in the same way and in the same respect.” The hymnal is either red or it is not red.

The theological statement, “Jesus is Lord of the universe,” is either true or false. Its truth or falsity does not depend upon the sincerity or the loudness or the brilliance of the person making the statement. It also does not depend upon the birth culture of the person making the statement. The statement either corresponds to reality or it doesn’t. If I claim that a ladder is sound, and firmly believe that it is, that does not make the ladder sound. It only means that I believe it is. If I’m wrong I could be endangering myself and anybody else who climbs the ladder.

What we’re embarking on, over the course of the next few weeks, (or, perhaps , months) is a study of something called worldview. It has become a popular term in the recent past, but it is a concept as old as mankind.

How we view the truth really matters. Think about abortion, marriage, ethics, euthanasia. How we view truth will color how we deal with such topics.

Christians today, especially in the US are often held captive by the so-called intellectual elites. These are the same people who agreed with the editorial in the Washington Post a few years back which referred to conservative Christians as “poor, uneducated, and easily led.” We’re cowed by them. We allow them to back us into a corner so that we check our intellect at the church door, effectively creating a dichotomy between our “sacred beliefs” and our secular beliefs.

A is not non-A. Either God is who He claims to be in the Bible, or He is not. We cannot have it both ways. If we believe that God is the Creator of the Universe, we have to believe it on Monday as well as on Sunday. More importantly, we have to act as though we believe it – every day.

This is the point of this excellent book by Nancy Pearcey. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Crossway Books, 2004).

Her purpose, Pearcey writes, is to help Christians “recover a place at the table of debate.” In order to do this, she explains, “Christians must find a way to overcome the dichotomy between public and private, fact and value, secular and sacred. We need to liberate the gospel from its cultural captivity, restoring it to the status of public truth” In other words, Christians need to stop checking their minds at the door to the office, the school, the shop, the gym. We need to have a full intellectual understanding of our faith and an ability to apply biblical principles in all areas of our lives.

Pearcey urges that Christians develop a full-orbed approach to their world. She addresses both the political activist Christians and those who would shrink from society and create evangelical ghettoes. Neither approach, she writes, has produced any lasting effect on our culture.

I will continue this discussion in the coming weeks.

I’d like to know your thoughts, now and along the way. Join me in the discussion.

Not My First Pandemic

A recent story in USA Today opened with the following,

For many Americans, the novel coronavirus pandemic has generated illness-related fears that have little precedent in our lifetimes.

But 60 million Americans over the age of 70 have seen this horror show before: the polio scourge that ravaged the world’s young from roughly 1916 until Jonas Salk’s vaccination arrived in 1955.


Epidemics and pandemics are nothing new. The first recorded pandemic occurred prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. What’s the difference between an epidemic and pandemic, you may ask.  The answer is reach. If the disease is localized it is referred to as an epidemic. If a medical catastrophe crosses multiple borders it may be designated a pandemic.  The Greek prefix pan…means all.

The deadliest pandemic in history is the flu outbreak of 1918. Not only did it kill millions worldwide, but much like today, people around the globe were “social distancing” and wearing masks, although they were more pleased with the mask situation than many today (https://www.history.com/news/1918-spanish-flu-mask-wearing-resistance).

Fast forward to the 1950s and ‘60s.Americans were recovering from WWII. They were sure that the world was now in good shape.  Then polio hit. The disease had been around for decades, but brought its full force in the 1950s. In 1952 alone more than 50,000 children were infected. Also known as “Infantile Paralysis,” children were the hardest hit demographic. 

Polio struck fear in the hearts of people worldwide. Having lived through this, I can affirm that the fear was palpable. Businesses and recreation areas were closed to the public. For me the greatest loss was the public swimming pool. A city kid whose family did not own a vehicle, this was a meeting place as well as our “swimming hole.” Schools were closed. Some churches closed, others were open but did not allow children to attend. No internet services were available. Kids couldn’t go to summer camps. As today, quarantines and lock-downs were part of life.

Parents worried that, having survived a world war, their family might not live through this viral plague. They had reason to be worried. The numbers of the afflicted rose, leaving many children paralyzed – or dead. We talked about it at school (I don’t recall my school being shut down) and gossiped about those we knew were affected. Fear stalked us. People we knew were being confined to iron lungs, steel cylinders in which the patient would be placed to help overcome paralysis of the respiratory system. They were that generation’s respirators. None of us wanted to end up in the lung.

In the late 1950s, help arrived in the form of a new vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. All over the US inoculation stations were set up in schools hospitals and commercial spaces. I remember waiting in a long line, extending down Weybosset Street in Providence, for my polio shot being administered at the Outlet Company, the largest retail store in Rhode Island (now gone).

I graduated from high school in 1962. The fear was still there. Many young men who were enlisting in the armed forces worried that they might not pass the physical. Later that year, on a flight home to Providence, I actually ran into a guy who had been a year ahead of me at Central High School. I didn’t know Skip well and was surprised to see him.  He had been a polio victim. He had been in an iron lung for a while and I think he still had to spend some time in one. He was weakened. He was never going to regain his former health. But he was a drummer in a band and was able to travel and play.

It was not an easy period in our history. Panic, fear, resistance to imposed authority were all part of life – as is also the case today. We, as a nation, got through it. If God wills, we will also get through this one. But we will be damaged. 

NOTE: The History Channel has a number of episodes on epidemics and pandemics.