Monday, August 11, 2014

We Are So Polarized........Why?

As Americans, we have always been a people of different points of view.  It is who we are.  It goes back even to colonial times.  Traditionally, over the years, through social interaction, by sitting down with people of opposing views, on a front porch, over a bale of hay, at a town meeting, in a bar, across a kitchen table, around a conference table, in a classroom, we resolved them, we worked through our differing positions together.  In the past couple of decades, we have gotten away from that.

Today we hunker down, surround ourselves with like-minded people, read, watch, and listen to information and material which reinforces our views. We demonize the opposing position and the opposing people.  In fact, often (research has shown) the more facts people are presented which oppose the validity of their position, the more adamant they get about their position.

Prior to this phenomenon, in prior decades, as we met with and sat down with people of different attitudes, values, opinions, beliefs, and positions, we grew stronger as a result, not more contentious. We built on one another's views. We arrived at consensus. We moved though differences. We built and moved communities forward as a result of the process.  We resolved differences, came out stronger, wiser, more effective, with collective ideas and strategies.

Think about Illinois' Lincoln and Tennessee's Johnson (running mates in 1864), of social liberal FDR and business conservative Joe Kennedy working so effectively. Think of a competitive Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in a garage.  Consider Illinois Republican Everett Dirksen and Texas Democrat Lyndon Johnson crafting civil rights legislation, a Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil,  Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, a George HW Bush and a Bill Clinton. Opposing ideologies and competitors, but common and collective vision and hope. Collaboration, cooperation, compromise, respect.

We stopped doing that.  We are at each other's throats in the public square.  Why?  What happened to us? We best consider.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Douglas MacArthur Assures That World War II Ends on An Honorable, Solemn Note

What a complex, contradictory, egotistical, stubborn, paradoxical, courageous, brave, great 20th century military strategist and leader Douglas MacArthur was.  I finished a great book, “The Most Dangerous Man in America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”  I learned much about WWII and leadership.  I learned much about his complicated relationship with President Roosevelt, who considered he and Huey Long the two most dangerous men in America, and how competitive relationships among military leaders can sometimes achieve great, high-level results.
I have a friend who values great, historic speeches and addresses.  He carries them in his briefcase.  The MacArthur speech I will end this blog with should be one of them.  It is short, but the setting is dramatic and the words are wise, honorable and visionary.

General Douglas MacArthur arrived, with his entourage, in Yokohama, Japan after word of the Japanese surrender.  There was no assurance his arrival would not be met with gunfire.  No surrender documents had been signed.  He and his staff piled in a Japanese-organized motorcade for the twenty-mile trip into downtown Yokohama.  MacArthur’s staff insisted he be accompanied by armed guards and vehicles.  MacArthur waived it off.  He wanted the Japanese to know that he was coming as their friend. Winston Churchill would later call this decision one of the bravest acts of World War II.
It took MacArthur two hours to travel through the rubble of Yokohama.  On both sides of the road, Japanese soldiers and citizens turned their backs to him……a sign of respect accorded only to the emperor.  As MacArthur assumed his position in his suite at The New Grand Hotel in Yokohama, five hundred troops of the 11th Airborne fanned out around the hotel for protection.

On the morning of Sunday, September 2, MacArthur drove from The New Grand Hotel to Yokohama Naval Base, where he was put aboard a launch for the USS Missouri which lay anchored in Tokyo Bay.  He had spent the previous day mapping out the surrender ceremonies, including a diagram designating where each of his fellow commanders would stand.  A short time after his arrival, a delegation of eleven Japanese officials, all dressed in formal attire, with top hats, arrived, led by the Foreign Minister Shigemitusu.

There was no cheering; the sailors of the Missouri, including 1st Shipmate Ervin A. Godfrey, a very proud uncle of mine from North Carolina, watched in silent awe.  As MacArthur stepped to the microphone, he began: “We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.  The issues, involving divergent ideals and ideologies, have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate.”

The Japanese watched him closely, with one of them later noting that his hands trembled, if only slightly.  MacArthur, his voice steady, went on: “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past…..a world founded upon faith and understanding…….a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfilment of his most cherished wish…….for freedom, tolerance and justice.” 
MacArthur had written the words himself, without help from his staff, and without reviewing them with anyone.  He wanted to set a calm tone with simple sentences shorn of triumph.  It was, without question, biographer Mark Perry believes, Douglas MacArthur's finest speech and his finest moment.  After the signing of the surrender documents, MacArthur returned to the microphone: “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.  These proceedings are now closed.”  And with those words, World War Two ended.

(Source: Mark Perry’s, “The Most Dangerous Man In America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”)  

Sunday, June 1, 2014





Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King - "LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL" - April 16,1963

"But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice:... "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."--- Dr. Martin Luther King ("LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL"
April 16, 1963).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Great Abe Lincoln

"I am slow to listen to criminations among friends, and never espouse their quarrels on either side. My sincere wish is that both sides will allow bygones to be bygones, and look to the present and future only.” Abraham Lincoln 8/31/1860

Library of Congress image

Monday, March 17, 2014

A South Carolina Wade Hampton Political Button

Above is an incredibly rare South Carolina trigate (political button containing three photographs) featuring Colonel, Governor, and later-US Senator Wade Hampton, and US Senators, Matthew C. Butler and Martin Gary. The pin commemorates the 1926 50th anniversary of Hampton's inauguration as Governor of South Carolina, and the election of Butler and Gary to the U.S. Senate. All three men served together in the Civil War.  It is, again, a very rare southern trigate.

I am pleased to have added it to my collection recently.  I love for the history, the provenance, the beauty, and the excellent condition of this historic piece.  South Carolina's southern, political history is without rival.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Fascinating Story of the Demise of The Big East

‘Requiem for the Big East’ is a great ESPN 30/30 production about the rise and fall of a great American institution and sports enterprise, the Big East Athletic Conference.  It’s just a fascinating American story about an institution, and an athletic conference, built on American capitalism and brought down by the same.  Greed and capitalism made the conference and the same destroyed it.  So paradoxical, like so much in America. 
It is amazing to watch the conference come out of small campus gyms in the late 70s and early 80s and then rise to national prominence in Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, The Spectrum, and the Carrier Dome.  The rise paralleled the birth and rise of ESPN, located in Bristol, Conn., in the heart of Big East country.  The league coaches were an amazing cast of characters, Lou Carnesecca, Boeheim, Big John Thompson, Rollie Massimino, Pitino.  And the Syracuse/Georgetown rivalry became classic.   
The conference demise began with football as BC, VT and Miami left for bigger bucks, then Syracuse / Pitt leaving in 2011 sealed it.  This 30/30 production is a must see for anyone interested in the dynamics of American sports culture in 21st century and how TV contracts and the infusion of economic stimulus can impact American culture.  I highly recommend this ESPN 30/30 production. (It is on 'Demand')

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spiritual Food For Thought (And Action)

The following are spiritually uplifting and thought provoking tweets, which I am archiving, from my 33-year old Senior Pastor who is in NYC this week in conjunction with a class he teaches at Wake Divinity School.  I am blessed to be exposed to such profound spiritual insight and motivation.  May they provide impetus.

"The Dwelling Place with Sister Nancy and Sister Margaret. "We pray that you will find your own dwelling place. A place to be and do all you were created to be and do." @wakediv"

"With Taylor Field of Graffiti NYC. "We prayed, 'Lord, give us the toughest assignments.'" @wakediv"

"With Amanda Ashcraft, Director of Outreach at Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church. "Our sense of sanctuary doesn't end when our doors close."

"New Sanctuary NYC with Juan Carlos Ruiz. "Welcoming the stranger is not a political issue. It's a spiritual issue."

"With Rev. Michael Elick of Judson Memorial Church. "People like to repeat what Jesus said, but they don't like to repeat what Jesus did." @wakediv"

"HuffPost Religion with Paul Raushenbush. "I consider myself a minister in the online setting...if we abdicate that presence we abdicate the faith." @wakediv @HuffPostRelig"

"With Rev. Pat Bumgardner at MCCNY. "If you want to merely go to church, there are plenty of places for you to go. If you want to ask how does this faith get acted out in the world, this might be the place for you." @wakediv

"With Rev. Heidi Neumark at Trinity Lutheran. "The Gospel lesson that day was on Peter getting out of the boat, and it was as if God said, 'Heidi, get out of the boat.'" @wakediv

"Union Theological Seminary for Chapel with the Black Women's Caucus and conversation with Dr. Troy Messenger. "We want worship to be a place of risk."" @wakediv

"Abyssinian Baptist Church with Sandra McNeill of the Abyssinian History and Heritage Committee. "Founded in 1808 by a group who refused to accept racially segregated seating in Gods house, Abyssinian was established as a fellowship of faith that would welcome all people to worship freely." @wakediv"

"Metro Baptist and Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries with Tiffany Triplett Henkel, Ronnie Adams and staff. "This church opens it's doors wide, and we're always thinking about how to widen the doorway." @wakediv"

These last two, not tweeted by my Pastor, just seemed appropriate.
"From God we hear the word: “If you want my goodness to stay with you then serve your neighbor, for that is where God comes to you.”"---Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"We are all just walking each other home." ~Ram Dass

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor arrive at the White House, March of 1933, after receiving a resounding 57.4% of the vote. The nation was deep in economic depression, hundreds of banks closing, with long, desperate hunger lines across America. Thankfully, FDR was 'the man of the hour' to begin leading the nation out of despair. Great photo.

Friday, February 28, 2014

President Obama's Top 50 Accomplishments

This list is important.  In my view, President Obama has been a great President in a very transitional, contentious, and difficult time in our history. We can still critique the President and hold opposing views regarding the job he is doing, but to acknowledge his accomplishments seems the only intellectually honest and emotionally sound thing to do.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dr. Booker T. Washington

Dr. Booker T. Washington speaks at Carnegie Hall in 1906 on the 25th anniversary of the Tuskegee Institute. Directly behind Dr. Washington is Mark Twain.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Picture of The Day

Very nice shot of downtown Greensboro, NC in 1955.  I lived 5 blocks down Summit Ave.  Spent lots of time downtown in the '50s and '60s.  Nice memories.  Had not seen this shot before.  So crisp and clear.  I can sense being there.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Beatles Fact

Yep, they were cool. (They never appeared in Atlanta).

The Great Jesse Owens

Adolph Hitler was using the 1936 Olympics games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games.  Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of "Aryan racial superiority" and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior. America's great Jesse Owens showed 'em.  He countered by winning four gold medals......a great Olympic moment and a great American moment. 

A couple of interesting tidbits, after a NYC parade honoring him, Owens had to ride the freight elevator at the Waldorf Astoria to reach a reception honoring him.  In addition, President Roosevelt never invited Jesse Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympics as Roosevelt was afraid that he would lose southern votes in 1936, an election year, if he hosted and honored an African American man in the White House, a low, non-courageous point for a generally courageous FDR (though it says as much about 1936 America as it does about FDR).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Picture of the Day

Oh, I like everything about this photograph.

A Poor and Misguided Olympic Experience

I am down on the Olympics.  It amazes me that NBC is so heavily invested in the event.  With a multi-billion dollar contract and all their major news anchors and resources invested and present, it does not seem appropriate for the level of interest I sense in the games.  I guess the TV ratings will indicate if I am getting a correct read.

We seem to have moved farther still from the original intent of the Olympics and the "Olympic spirit."  We have gotten away from competing and performing for the sake reaching one's potential and for the sake of friendly international competition.

The term "Olympic spirit" seems only vaguely associated with the Olympic Games today.  One founder of the movement said of the true Olympic spirit, "the important thing is not to win, but to take part........the Olympic spirit is epitomized by those athletes who try their best but fall short."  Another founder of the movement wrote: "the true Olympic spirit is often found not with the gold medalists with their agents and sponsorship deals -- it is found in its purest sense in those who struggle honestly to do their best but who come in last."

It amazes me to hear of families sending age 12/13-year olds off to live permanently at Olympic camps, literally "mortgaging the farm", paying upwards of $40,000 per year for Olympics training at such a young ages.  Then, they 'borrow and beg" to be able to make trips to Olympic sites to witness the competition.  Maybe I'm missing something, but like so much else, this is another institution moving farther and farther from it's original objective, from it's mission, from reason.

This issue and dilemma, along with the Sochi Olympic contract corruption, the terrorist threat, the poor weather factor, the Russian position on the LGBT issue, all combine to make for a poor Olympic experience. Were it not for the huge NBC contract to broadcast it, it would be highly ignored, in my view.

Like so many other institutions, we need to rethink where we are with respect to the original intent of the Olympics.  The original mission was to "to build a peaceful and better world, one which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."  Frankly, I think we have built a hyper-competitive, over-commercialized, American one-upsmanship, obsessive compulsive attempt to demonstrate misplaced and questionable American superiority.

In a new world of globalization, serious global economic competition, and electronic interactive connectivity, our focus, resources, and energy could be much better spent and our values much better shared and showcased.  I believe "average Joe American" will soon sense that as well.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Landon/Knox 1936 Campaign Item

I collect political memorabilia.  I specialize in Presidential items.  Alf Landon is a primary focus for me.  This is probably my most desired item.  It is a 1936 Landon/Knox car license tag (7" in length), and it would generally be attached to the front of a car of Landon supporter in the mid-30s. 

Landon, a moderate Republican from Kansas, lost in a landslide to Franklin Roosevelt who won a second term in November of 1936.  By the way, I am a tremendous FDR fan.  But I am a non-partisan collector (like most serious political collectors).  Isn't this a stunning item?  Wish me luck my pursuit of this item.  Thanks!

Picture of The Day

As we are in process of getting 10+ inches of snow (actually beautiful coming down) in Greensboro, I was struck by a sunset in the Caribbeans.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jackie and Rachel Robinson

Jackie Robinson epitomizes good and important black, and American, history.  The movie "42" was a powerful and significant film.  Here, the real Jackie and Rachel Robinson are sitting on their front steps of their home in Brooklyn as Jackie Jr. drinks a glass of milk, on his tricycle.  This shot was taken in July, 1949, just 24 short months after a courageous Jackie and a visionary Branch Rickey made history by breaking baseball's color barrier, a very significant event in American history.

APIC Meeting and Show, March 2, Greensboro - All Are Invited!

Saturday, March 1, is the date for the 2014 Dixie Chapter Meeting and Show of the American Political Items Collectors (APIC). It will be held in Greensboro at the Holiday Inn Airport on Burnt Poplar Rd. (I-40 and Hwy. 68)  There will be collectors and dealers in from all over the country. APIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of material relating to political campaigns.

The show is from 8:30 to 2:00 on Saturday, March 1 (Friday evening there will be room hopping and a hospitality suite; all are invited). Admission Saturday is $3.00. Above is some of my collection (Truman and FDR frame).  

Like many others, I will be set-up and will be showing, trading, buying, and selling. Please come out if you have interest. It is a blast. Bring any items you may wish to have appraised by the nation's top dealers at no charge.

Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts

Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts. Plymouth shows the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English colonists, some of whom later became known as Pilgrims. They were among the first people who immigrated to America.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Picture of the Day

Beautifully still and rustic.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Above is quote from the great, profound German Lutheran pastor and courageous German resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Apart from his renowned theological writings, Bonhoeffer became known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship.  He was arrested in April 1943 by the German Gestpo and executed by hanging in April 1945 at age 39 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Governor Terry Sanford

These are nice shots of one of my favorite 20th leaders and politicians, former NC Governor, U. S. Senator, and Duke University President, the late Terry Sanford.  I love political history, especially 20th century NC political history.  My son is a senior political operative for one of the highest profile governors in America (not NC).

The top photo is, of course, with President Kennedy.  Governor Sanford was the first southerner to come out and endorse JFK. As a result, he was chosen to give the 'seconding speech' at the 1960 Democratic Convention. According to President Kennedy's personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln (in her 1968 book, 'Kennedy and Johnson'), Sanford would have been Kennedy's choice for vice president on the 1964 Democratic ticket, had Kennedy lived.

Terry Sanford played a key role in the transformation of Southern politics into the 'New
South', primarily in the areas of race relations and education.  In recognition of his efforts in education and in countless other areas, a 1981 Harvard University survey named him one of the 10 best governors in 20th century America.  I am pleased to have met Governor Sanford on a number of occasions. 

The other photo is Sanford with former NC Governor Luther Hodges (President Kennedy's Secretary of Commerce), and U. S. Senator Adlai Stevenson, who was twice (1952 and 1956) Democratic candidate for President of the United States, losing to General Eisenhower both times.  

Hard to believe the 2016 Presidential race is around the corner, 56 years after President Kennedy was elected President and Terry Sanford was elected NC Governor.  My money is on one last contest between two of America's last dynasties, the Clinton's and the Bushes........a classic race between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.  For the political enthusiast and historian, it will be a great one.  Let it begin. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thought For The Day

Clever, wonderful thought from the legendary Rosa Parks.  Today is her birthday.  Happy Birthday, Ms. Parks

Picture of The Day - 'Big Ben'

I like modern impressionist painting.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Curing Time" - A Fine Southern Historical Novel

I am just 'taken' by Tim Swink's novel, "Curing Time."  He has written a powerful work of historical fiction and I highly recommend it. Tim develops a twisting, wonderful, page-turning plot, beautiful, lovable characters, around a late 1950's rural North Carolina tobacco farming setting, which comes alive with mid-life struggle and crisis, race relations, a murder (which the reader is certain they have solved, only to be shocked in the end), and the magic and spirit world of an old, blind black lady.

“Curing Time” is the term for the aging and maturing process that tobacco undergoes after harvest, when the tobacco is transformed into its final, perfected form. In this story we come to understand the term is also a metaphor for the “curing time” of a man’s soul.  Will main character, Hume Rankin, survive and adapt to the changes coming to his life.?  Will they strengthen him or destroy him?

This is just a great, beautifully written book. I felt I had been on a great literary journey, full of wise lessons to be learned, while stirring the emotions from the outset. Congratulations to Tim, definitely an up and coming great southern writer. Do yourself a big favor and get a copy.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Canal, Venice

"You Win At Life"

The phrase "you win at life" caught my attention in a thread of comments on a Facebook wall.  It was posted as somewhat of an apology by one high school friend to another, referencing the beautiful family picture the first had posted on Facebook for Christmas, on which the other had made a 'snide' comment.

The thought immediately occurred to me, "how do we win at life?"  What constitutes winning at life?"  Why would one think another has won at life?"  Say what you will, but we are all consumed with the idea of 'winning' at life, or at least doing the very best that we can.  We all remember the bumper sticker which told us, "he who dies with the most toys wins."  Is that really a measure?

Winning at life has to do with living a life of peace.  Winning at life has to do with living a life which is congruent with a set of principles. Winning at life has to do with living a life of contentment.  It has to do with living a life of service. It has to do with discovering what is important, and revolving our lives around those principles and objectives. Winning at life has to do with having satisfying and  reconciled relationships with people we love and who love us.

A prerequisite to winning at life has to do with having strong and meaningful faith.  This is the basis and blueprint for our definition described above. The example of Christ's life and the blueprint we find in God's revelation of what he would have for our lives and how we are to live our lives, is the foundation.  Best wishes in your pursuit of life's victory.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Greensboro Fairgrounds and Race Track- 1940

Very cool picture. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex sits on that property now. The race track was dirt. An original, one of the first NASCAR tracks. An uncle of mine took me to races there a few times when I was a kid (in the early/mid '50s). Coliseum was built there in 1959.

Picture of the Day

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An Exciting Time in the Life of an Old Church

I am so excited about my faith and about my church as we move into 2014.  Above is a picture of the old, downtown building of the First Baptist Church of Greensboro.  We moved from that building in 1952 into our current beautiful location on West Friendly Avenue.  Born in 1948, I was a toddler in that old church.  I recall it only slightly.

Also pictured above is our young, new, dynamic Senior Pastor and his wife, Rev. Alan Sherouse and Jenny.  They were 'called' to our current church location as leaders in 2013.  Alan is one the most exciting things to happen to our church and to my faith journey in my memory, and I am a 55-year member of FBC-G.  His focus is on missions and on the importance of each of us 'being the Church' in the community and 'taking the church' and the love of God out into a hurting world.  His focus is on the love of Jesus, on social justice, and on the fulfilling of God's hope for humanity, as revealed through the loving, compassionate, forgiving, dynamic life Jesus.  

Although the church has been an important rock and anchor for my family through generations, Alan's ministry is making a difference in my life as never before.  I am putting 'feet' to my faith as never before.  His ministry is making a renewed difference in the life of our church and in our community.

It all started in that beautiful, old church building pictured above.  But as Alan would tell you, albeit historic and beautiful, it was just a building.  What is more important than ever before is the unleashing of God's love, through lives of it's members, into a hurting and needing world.  Let it be so.    

Tower Bridge, London

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