Thursday, November 30, 2017

Love Finds Its Own Way

A young mother took her incorrigible eight-year-old to a psychiatrist because nothing suited her child; “nothing was right!”

Conversation quickly revealed the depths of the child’s bitterness from hearing her mother’s years of unwanted diatribe. The doctor listened patiently. Before long, he heard the agony of an unwanted child slowly confessing, “Nobody loves me!” 

After listening to her childish complaint; the doctor suggested, “Why, that isn’t true. I love you. I really do like you.”

The child, on hearing the doctor’s kind words of acceptance, quietly approached him and climbed up on his lap. While sitting there with tears streaming down her face, she kissed the old man. Returning home, the rebellious child made up with her mother and became a very different child at school.

Nothing heals like a dose of love. The doctor, by loving a bitter, incorrigible child, modeled a teaching that Jesus left for us. Through his medical practice, the doctor redirected the child’s misdirected focus and broke through her protective shield of enslaving self-centeredness. It is a lesson that I, like some of you, am still trying to more fully wrap myself around.

As Jesus approached the time of his betrayal, he offered one of his most significant commands. We view his statement in the light of his coming death, as we hear his pronouncement: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34 NASV, italics added).

Why are we so quick to condemn one another? Our harsh and unkind words often reveal more about us than the person we judge. What we see so often is something we find deep within, but lack the grace to admit.

During one of those terribly depressing days during America’s Civil War, President Lincoln frequently visited nearby hospitals around the area. On one of those days, a young man visited his wounded brother following a fierce and costly battle. As the young man exited his brother’s room, he accidently bumped headlong into Mr. Lincoln.

Accosting the President without recognition or apology, the hostile, hurting younger brother, filled with his own bitterness, rudely challenged Mr. Lincoln: “Can’t you get out of the way of a young gentleman?”

Without disclosing his identity, the kindly President asked, “Young man, what’s troubling you on the inside?” The President instinctively knew that something was eating at the inside of this young man; otherwise, he would not be so out of sorts with his whole world.

Self-centered living creates behaviors and attitudes that only love can cushion. Counselors and healers find self-centered living most often creating the greatest obstacles for living comfortably with one’s self, thereby making it difficult to relate with others.

People that withdraw inward, tend to wall-off others, except to blame. They do everything they can, except face the real problem--within. A good rule of thumb suggests that when we feel most out of sorts with others, a positive inward look offers the most promise for finding healing and health. Often times when we are the most unhappy, the healthiest (most healing) thing we can do is to stop where we are, step outside of ourselves, and find someone that needs our help.

That, in turn, fulfills one of the most important teachings ever spoken by Jesus--love your neighbor as yourself .. and ... I am Wayne at

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Metaxas and Luther

During the decade of the sixties I was appointed to read Holy Scripture in an Ecumenical Service in Fort Worth, TX. As fate would have it; that service was hosted by a Roman Catholic Church. Many times since then, I have pondered that unique experience and thanked God for the distinctive privilege. Through the years, I have continued to weigh the significance of the Protestant Reformation. I have now added to that cumulative experience Eric Metaxas and Martin Luther, the man said to rediscover God and change the world (MARTIN LUTHER / Eric Metaxas / Viking / NY / 2017).

What I found were 480 pages that can be readily read, and even understood, by both artisans in the Academy as well as most ordinary readers. Eric Metaxas, and a staff of editors, have artfully sorted fact from fiction and they offer readers from every level of reading skill a very readable  and authentic text—a superbly well-written book, with notes, bibliography, and index—every bit as good as Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce (earlier Metaxas offerings).

Metaxas reveals Luther as a highly complex man and he leaves us with an historical super hero of epic proportion; yet a humble man with an identifiable devotion to his Creator, a man with an unmistakable intellect, a man occasionally human enough to still be a German blockhead.

In Luther, we find a man that walked in common shoe leather, who by the grace of God left our common humanity a free marketplace where democratic ideas and ideals could thrive and take root in a new future. We see a man who desired above all to reform a Papal Institution from the inside out that he loved. Although he seemingly failed in that effort, he left that Institution redefined and changed by a transforming legacy of Scriptural authority and Scripture Reading with congregational participation, and expanded forms of worship and liturgy.

In helping the reader sort out numerous issues of faith, this author shines a spotlight that brightens our understanding of some of our faith’s most significant points of social and religious conflict during the Reformation, understand their historic value, and see the true worth of what Dr. Martin actually contributed to all of our lives.

Luther’s struggle with Rome reminds one of ancient Abraham artfully pleading with God over the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18). Once Luther raised a dissenting voice in defense of Scripture’s authority over human institutions, there was no stopping place, no turning around, no changing course. He was on a journey whose end he could in no way measure. Wanting only to spotlight needed corrections, this humble monk was swept up in a tsunami of social, political, religious, even technological changes no one understood at the time and that we are still processing today.

Luther’s best intention of being helpful as a dedicated and loyal servant of the church quickly evaporated, as a quote quickly illustrates:
              The Church of Rome, formerly the most holy of all churches has become the most
              lawless den of thieves, the most shameless of brothels, the very kingdom of sin, death
              and hell so that not even the Anti-Christ, if he were to come, could devise any addition
              to its wickedness” (189).

The authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God, affirmation of the priesthood of Believers (as opposed to a segregated priesthood defining the church), the free church tradition, the right of dissent, separation of church and state; all find reaffirmation via the coalescing Reformation whose long roots ranged far and wide throughout history, from Wycliffe to Wesley. Luther, aided and abetted by an opportunistic printer that saw a chance to make a “quick buck” only provided the catalyst when he nailed his 95-Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Church for in-house academic debate.

Some books you read for pleasure, others you read for information, or perhaps other reasons. For me, this book is timely to the world my two grandsons have entered as young Christian adults-- not just to celebrate an event that happened five-hundred years ago, but to better understand the signs of the times in which we are now engaged.

The single-most important issue for me is the conflict of theocracy (religion united with absolute power). Luther sheds God’s light on conscience and dissent as well as truth divorced from power and the possibility of dissent (or another church).Metaxas suggests, “By freeing truth and the ideas of the Bible from the institution of the church, Luther enabled these things to enter the entirety of the secular world, such that every good agnostic and atheist today knows that caring for the poor and the marginalized is a measure of our humanity” (445).

“In the past, we lived in a world where might actually made right, where truth was the power of the sword. Or where there was no actual right, so that the appearance that might made right held sway completely. The Catholic church was in those days the Christian church, and in those days the church much like the Turks and the Ottoman Caliphate battled with guns, not with competing truth claims. So just as today radical Islamists may believe there is no truth but the sword—that they can enforce their views through torture and death—the church once did this too.

But today we live in a world where even if someone can do that, there are voices that will rise up and say that is wrong. We live in a world where even though someone might be right and know he is right, he also knows that to try to force his views is as bad as holding the wrong views. That is the revolution that is the father and mother of all other revolutions” (443 bold and italicized mine).

This is my primary take-away from Metaxas and Luther
*OFF THE RECORD WITH LUTHER records quotes and sayings from the Luther's dinner table. They kept student boarders whose quotes of Luther were oft-repeated and eventually published. This is an expanded translation of here-to-fore untranslated work, until this version by Charles Daudert with forward by Luther expert Dr. Paul Maier. More of this book later.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Life's Odd Moments

“That’s mine,” I heard my wife say softly.
That’s a piece of Essie’s old dress,” said another voice that sounded strangely like my Oklahoma mother-in-law.
“That was from my old brown suit.”
“Why, I’ve got more pieces in here than anybody!” the voices continued back and forth, as snitches of conversation drifted into my consciousness.

Like a softly bouncing ball, the bantering continued back and forth as Kitty and her mother studied the individual remnants that gave direction to what would soon be their newest quilt top. The two veterans sorted and matched from their seemingly-endless odds and ends of scrap, only remnants of discarded clothing and throw-a-way items of all description--all useless remnants. 

I am a non-quilter, having grown up in a home without quilters. My wife learned quilting as a child at her mother’s knee. She and her mother saw something potentially useful in every old scrap. Thus, they searched and sorted through a drawer full of quilt tops, scraps that I viewed as utterly useless. After their careful search, they selected those they thought most promising, stacked them nearby and purposefully stitched them into another well-blended quilt top, attractively patterned.

Mary had been a quality seamstress in her younger days, making most of her clothes while raising a large family. Now worn with the weariness of her years and deteriorating health; her visits with daughter Kitty extended into lengthy periods of convalescence. The two, mother and daughter consequently filled quiet days, and months, with conversation beside the quilting frames, needles in hands, making the most of Mary’s gradually diminishing health.

Mary’s original hand-stitched quilts were creative master pieces. She created them with, artistic skill and stitched them with love. She had started teaching her daughter even before she took her to the country school nearby. Years later, I wrapped up in sleep under the protective warmth of one or another of those quilts--the lovely wedding ring pattern given as a wedding gift decades ago being my favorite.

Quilt scraps are just that--useless bits of cloth, candidates for the trash bin. To me, they appear insignificant and without purpose; but in the eyes of an artistic seamstress, they form a living vision. Mixing multiplied shapes and forms, they take on creative designs. The journey may be ever so devious, from a favorite garment, or even the discard pile. Yet, when appreciated and properly viewed, artistically matched-and-stitched together, they revealed a new creation and launched a new life of touching people.

Such useless scraps become heritage gifts for family members, or special-occasion delights. Once useless, now transformed; they become family heirlooms, generational treasures whose value increases with each passing generation.

That long ago conversation between two of the most important people in my life yet causes me to pause and reflect on the people I’ve known, the places I’ve been, and the experiences I’ve shared—mostly good, a few bad. Seen individually, many seem insignificant--people without purpose--experiences without worth--useless scraps.

Yet when viewed creatively, and stitched artfully together, I observe a new wholeness--a refreshing collage that reflects a loving God--a Master Quilter. When he views, sorts, and reassembles our useless scraps, and creatively stitches them into a fine, new quilt top, it transforms life and creates new meaning, restores lost values, and promises reassuring comfort.

Could this be what Paul meant when he told the church at Rome, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose… ” (Rom. 8:28, NKJV)? If He is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:28, 31b). For, as he suggests, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Will tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword? “I am persuaded that none of these things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:35-39).

We press forward blind and unthinking, viewing life’s difficult assignments and odd moments but seeing little treasure. Consequently, we lack appreciation for those unpleasant and seemingly-useless odds and ends that life has stitched together for us. Until ... quite unexpectedly, but by the grace of God, we catch a glimpse of a lovely quilt top--a potential blessing for someone.

And so with day‘s end approaching, in spite of my oddly-shaped, seemingly-useless scraps of life, I reaffirm my faith in God’s creative ability to match my odd assortment of diversity and variegated color and I take new hope in his compassionate caring,

Time and again: has he not revealed His proven ability to recycle them into a usability that can transform my life while blessing another? I am

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

There's Room at the Cross for All

John Bunyan’s classic story of Pilgrim’s Progress describes Pilgrim toiling along on a lonely highway bounded on both sides by a stone wall. The burden of the heavy sack carried by Pilgrim bends his back low as he trudges forward. His load being large and heavy; his steps become slow and painful.

Finally; Pilgrim reaches the top of the hill, only to find his way blocked by a cross. As Pilgrim gazes at the large cross a strange thing happens. He stares in amazement as his heavy load slowly slips from his back and rolls backward down the hill.
 At the cross, Pilgrim discovers forgiveness and relief from his heavy burden of sin and guilt He goes on his way quickly, filled with great joy. Soon, he begins to sing:
Blest cross: Blest sepulcher. Best rather be
The man that there was put to shame for me.
Bishop McDowell once told a large gathering, “I would not go across the street to give India a new theology, India now has more theology than it can understand, or to give China a new code of ethics, China has a vastly better ethical code than ethical life, or to give Japanese a religious literature, Japan now has a better religious literature than religious life. But I would go across the world again and again, if it pleased God, to tell India and China and Africa of my experience at the cross.”

The cross expressed God’s word of caring concern; He so loved that he forgave. It is the character of God the Father to forgive. It is the way of Christ to forgive. It was from the cross Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” For Americans and for Africans, for Jews and for Arabs, the word is the same. The word of forgiveness is a password to powerful living; it is the word that our literate society yet finds in great shortfall.
How hardly man this lesson earns,
To smile and bless the hand that spurns,
To see the blow, to feel the pain,
To render only love again,
One had it—but He came from heaven,
Reviled, rejected, and betrayed;
No curse He breathed, no plaint He made,
But when in death’s dark pang He sighed,
Prayed for His murderers, and died.         

Ira Stanphill wrote the lyrics and music to this beloved Gospel song, "Room At The Cross For You"
The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide;
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.

There's room at the cross for you
There's room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there's still room for one
Yes, there's room at the cross for you.

Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned;
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome a sinner before it's too late.

The hand of my Savior is strong
And the love of my Savior is long;
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain.
There's room at the cross for you
There's room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there's still room for one
Yes, there's room at the cross for you.
This is walkingwithwarner, 
at that place where we all kneel on level ground.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Supersizing the Soul

Dr. Harry Ironside was once a gifted Chicago pastor. He preached at the famed Moody Memorial Church. Once while on a trip to San Francisco, Dr. Ironside came upon a band of Salvation Army people that were singing praises to God and preaching the message of Christ.

The Chicago pastor joined in with the crowd where he stood out on the street and added his praises, and when given opportunity to speak, he called on people to give their lives to Jesus Christ. At that, an unbeliever came up to him and addressed the crowd standing around:  “I challenge this preacher to a debate,” and he further announced, “I will show you how the gospel that he preaches is dust and ashes.”

Dr. Ironside quietly accepted the challenge. Directly addressing the challenger, he added, “I accept your challenge. We will set the date and the place. The place will be the Salvation Army Hall. The date will be tonight. I will bring with me one-hundred men who were in the depths of despair and darkness and who were lifted into marvelous life by the Son of God. You bring one-hundred men who have been saved by the gospel of infidelity, and we will have our debate tonight.”

Scour the earth! Where would you go to find a single song dedicated to infidelity? Could you find one-hundred people whose lives have been rescued, redeemed, and transformed by their disbelief of God? Go to the former Soviet Union and you will find a nation struggling to rediscover its national soul after leaving the atheism of Communism that did little more than enslave the nation for seventy-five years. Go to the Middle East where increasing numbers of people are leaving behind the empty promises of Islam and discovering new life and new joy in personally encountering the Living Christ, after meeting him in a dream or other extra-sensory experience.

Check all of history! Nowhere will you find the life-changing power of “Amazing Grace” as consistently and powerfully as you find it in the Christian Church.
I am,, 
thrilled that our Heavenly Father only waits to touch and transform your life … if you will but agree to it.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Declining Death Penalty

A page from an old sheaf of papers revealed a 10-28-11 news update on the decline in enforcement of the death penalty in the United States. That news brief included this interesting question: “Why does the U.S. remain an outlier?” 

With that question duly posed, the writer had this to say in the following paragraph:
          "A majority of Americans continue to believe that capital punishment is the only way to
          deliver proportional justice to a murderer. ‘Someone who murders another human being
          can only be made to pay for his actions by forfeiting his own life,’ says death-penalty
          advocate Casey Carmichael. ‘If the punishment for theft is imprisonment, then the 
          punishment for murder must be exponentially more severe, because human life is infinitely
          more valuable than any material item.’ This view is largely rooted in the Bible and its ‘eye-for-              an-eye’ ethos, which still exerts a powerful influence in parts of the U.S. where religious                        conservatives predominate.’  Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe, and            has least support in the church-going United States,’ conservative Supreme Court Justice                      Antonin Scalia has written. 'I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian death is            no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal.’“

The problem becomes obvious with the realization that the basic assumptions in this paragraph are flawed, debatable, and/or simply wrong, even when viewed from a Biblical perspective. While the ethos of an ”eye for an eye” may be Bible based, and although it is true that it still exerts a powerful influence among conservative-Christians in some regions of the country; it is an incomplete view, fundamentally flawed, and draws a wrong conclusion.

“Eye for an eye” is an Old Testament concept. While well-intended for equal justice, when assimilated into the New Testament teachings of Jesus and the Kingdom of God, it falls far short of what Jesus actually taught (restorative justice). I began to understand this better when I came to the pragmatic realization that a prisoner could be fed and housed for a number of years and still be less costly than the death penalty, a statement of fact that I did not want to believe at first.

When I began to realize the impact of the number of commutations being given because of legally flawed jury decisions, I began to see
              1) the flaws in our justice system, and
              2) I began to realize the contrast between our theories about punishment and what Jesus taught   regarding restoring people.
I saw the idiocy of simply punishing people and turning them loose (or killing them) and ending up with an unsolved problem after all that expense.

I have no need to attempt a death penalty resolution with a single blog but I do give serious consideration to the opinions of the warden’s whose jobs are to preside over such executions. I take seriously when some of these men and women candidly confess that participating in the “planned, cold-blooded killing of human beings” has haunted them, that it often inflicts lasting trauma on those so employed, and that many of them turn to drugs and alcohol “from the pain of knowing a man died at their hand.”

When a 22-year veteran of the Florida Corrections System forthrightly declares,”The state dishonors us by putting us in this situation. This is premeditated, carefully thought-out ceremonial killing,” I have to take him seriously. When he advocates “an alternative that doesn’t lower us to the level of the killer: permanent imprisonment.” I do take new hope,

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Spirit of America

While the nation sadly watched workmen sift through the tortured ruins of Oklahoma City’s bombed-out Federal Center. There arose out of those ruins a spirit many Americans thought extinct. It was a spirit expressed in moving worship and courageous restructuring of broken lives. It resurrected a species of dream long since unemployed by a multitude of Americans.

What those viewers saw in central Oklahoma, I chanced upon by the grace of God when I married my English-Irish, Cherokee in 1947. Within the very early months of that marriage, we learned that she was terminally ill. Only then did we learn why she experienced such excruciating pain. At last I knew why she experienced continually repeating blackouts.

People say she was lucky: fortunate at the very east. Sensitive, and gifted; yes, she was different. Rather than call Dr. Death to euthanize her, she made an altar and rayed to the God of her mother to make the pain bearable. She was “ready to die” and she admittedly prayed for release from the intense suffering. But in the meantime, she promised God she would fulfill to the best of her ability any tasks he sent her way.

Recognizing the human limitations of our situation, the United States Air Force sent me home to Michigan with a discharge in my hand. The only “southerners” my family knew were migrants whom they considered undesirables, but they dutifully introduced their newest family member as their daughter-in-law. When out of earshot, however, they quietly confessed to their friends that she was “a good Southerner.”

My in-laws were simple people who lived close to the  land. Their word was their bond. Everyone was a neighbor to be politely greeted. My father-in-law graduated with the 1906 class at the University of Arkansas Medical School at Little Rock. My Mother-in-law’s people migrated westward from New England, travelling into Indian Territory via Wagon Train.

In time he became a Houston surgeon, until forced to retire from a disabling heart condition. They consequently returned to Central Oklahoma where he established a rural family practice midway between Tulsa and the City. As a “GP” he delivered babies, practiced family medicine, dispensed spiritual counsel when asked, provided socio-economic assistance wherever he could, and even tried his hand at preaching for about three years.

During this time, Doc and Mary raised their eight offspring while taking in several additional nieces and nephews. World War Two found their first-born working at Tinker AFB insuring that his department provided the kind of aircraft maintenance he expected his next younger brother to benefit from while flying A-26 “Flying Coffins” in the South Pacific.

Faith in God provided the steering wheel by which this family drove their vehicle of life. The children, once born, never forgot their “praying mother” going out back, down to the end of the path behind the house every morning at 5:00 o’clock. She remained unseen to prying eyes, but she was overheard now and then, since she prayed aloud to the God that ruled her world.

There were occasions when this “praying mother” had personal confirmations of answered prayers, like the time her number two son was away at war and on the other side of the world. Wounded and struggling hard to stay conscious long enough to return his aircraft home safely, he drifted in and out of consciousness, slowly losing his ability to hold his craft “on course.” As he shared later, privately with his mother, in private conversation, he described hearing the voice of his praying mother rising out of his semi-consciousness. By correcting his drifting flight pattern back to the sound of her voice, he realized after the fact that he had made his way back to home base and a safe landing.

The family would learn more upon reading the news clippings from the San Antonio Evening Light, which the girls had saved at the time while working in the Alamo City for Uncle Sam. Reporters described his crew on one occasion as missing in action behind enemy lines. Fortunately, he lived to return home and confide enough of the truth to his praying mother that he knew she knew.

Mary, being younger, eventually outlived Doc by twenty years, but in 1982 I put Tommie on board an Air Wisconsin flight that allowed her to gather with her siblings to receive the final edition of her lifetime ritual before they buried their mother. At 5:00 a.m. the day Mary died, Staff members at that Tulsa Hospital overheard, or listened in, to her asking God for grace, mercy, and strength as she named each living child before God one final time before she boarded the final flight of her eighty-nine-year journey.

Her Memorial Service attracted family and friends far and wide and they all made their way to the country church where her baby first began his preaching ministry. Although her children had been the first Sunday school in the once-booming village, the crowd now spilled out across surrounding yards and included twenty-seven pastors and wives.

The prayer mantle Mary left behind was picked up by a devoted son-in-law that retired in later years as a Foreign Service Officer and government expert on Far East Affairs, who continued to write Text Books and assist on political junkets at well past eighty.

The “baby” later retired from pastoral ministry. He was “on-call as a longtime Chaplain the day the bomb blew. Following that terroristic debacle he turned to his telephone for some necessary debriefing, calling his sister, also a minister married to a minister, who had taken their dad’s place.

Long accustomed to the realities of naked tragedy, he was nevertheless jaded by the glut of too many body parts and too much suffering. Finding sanctuary in humor as was his custom, he talked of looking for his son-in-law who worked near the Federal Center. He approached the damaged building with its glass wall strewn across the younger man’s desk, but not knowing where Larry was at that moment. He looked down at his feet as he approached the desk and there, amid the rubble and splintered glass, he recognized two pictures from Larry’s desk: his two grandsons.

“You can do a lot of things,” he chuckled with jaded emotion barely concealed, “but you just don’t mess with my grandchildren.”

What surprised many observers of this traumatic debacle was the way he citizens of this region rallied together from all across the Sooner State. The faith and fortitude of the people in this region was forged in the fires of survival, and most have lived much of their lives with a fierce Mother Nature noted chiefly for drought’s, floods, and tornadoes. It was a tanned, leathery-skinned, weather-beaten peanut farmer that said to me, “The only way we could survive out here was to help each other.”

An experience I had one day later reinforced for me the gentle ferocity of these sturdy south-westerners. I was driving a carload of kids to a Youth Rally in Odessa, TX, some one-hundred thirty miles distant. The trip revealed only open prairie, sage brush and sand, divided equally by two tiny gas stations and an easy bypass of Odessa’s mid-sized neighbor, Midand.

My car broke down en route. Although stranded and apparently isolated, it was but a short time until I took note of a cloud of dust on the horizon signaling some sign of life. We watched it progress over the hill and soon discerned a pickup truck heading our way, where there appeared to be no-way. A casually-dressed old rancher stopped, asked about our problem, and told us he was headed into town. We had neither rope nor chain for towing, but he voluntarily agreed to push us into the nearby village—that turned out to be eighteen miles.

Introducing us to his mechanic, this Good Samaritan informed him to take care of us. He then made sure we had refreshment. Between the two men, they soon had us on our way to Odessa, rejoicing at being part of the human race.

This region has long been called “Bible-belt” country. Predominantly Baptist, it includes Methodists, Christians, Churches of Christ Acapella, and other lesser-known denominations. These people believe in prayer, patriotism, and personal responsibility to each other and to God. The Bible is part-and-parcel of their cultural heritage. Lampooned by many in the media, many well-meaning Americans accept the caricature as fully accurate – “religious right wing extreme.”

Right or wrong; I know this: when you take from anything that which makes it something, what you have left equals little or nothing. What we saw in Oklahoma City witnessed to the hearts and souls of a citizenry whose faith loves God supremely and treats one’s neighbor as one’s self. That Spirit of America is the essence of what made and kept America great. 

Distilled as the Spirit of America, it is what the girl I married more than seventy years ago was all about when at her best.

From Warner’s World, I am