Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PTSD: Better Think a While

Time for a little confession. First, I have never served in the military, and I have nothing but the deepest thankfulness and respect for those who have, and do. My late father was in World War II, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Dad didn't like to talk about his war service, and given what those who did talk about it say, I can understand why. As Civil War General Sherman is supposed to have said, "War is hell."

But since then, and maybe all the more so since Vietnam, there seems to be more and more focus on the psychological condition of veterans when they come back home and try to re-adjust to civilian life. This was not an unknown issue in previous generations, as evidenced by the World War II-era classic film, "The Best Years of Our Lives," starring Dana Andrews and a host of many popular stars of the day. The movie focused on four veterans returning home and trying to fit into their families and work again. Very poignant.

But I have been tempted to be somewhat dismissive of today's "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," mostly due to my reaction against the way "psychobabble" in the schools has (in my opinion) messed up an entire generation of kids and today's adults. Many of you no doubt have heard or read the criticism or concerns that get expressed about trying to medicate today's schoolchildren (especially boys) into being docile little creatures. Some authors who have written on this subject—including a few psychiatrists—raise the concern that the so-called "self-esteem" movements and other ideas given to parents in the past 30 years or so have managed to raise up a generation of narcissists who can't handle life in the real world.

It's easy to knee-jerk and react in that way when we hear more and more reports of PTSD. The news media likes to make a crisis out of everything, and it seems like some within the mental health establishment like to make a crisis or a syndrome out of everything to explain any and every aberrant human behavior. (Yes, I know this is a sweeping, broad brush statement. Hang with me. I'm going somewhere with this).

The 24 hour news cycle and non-stop coverage of this issue and the reports you hear from it give the impression that it is widespread if not quite epidemic. It could possibly be argued that the "Greatest Generation," the World War II generation, by and large didn't react to their experiences like today's generations. Like I said, my dad didn't like to talk about it. But he lived with it, and by and large was a good father and good provider. He did have his issues, but he had those before he ever went off to war. I have known many other World War vets in my family or among friends, and because most of them didn't really like to talk about it, it's hard to say what they thought of or endured in their dreams at night, or when memories surfaced. But they didn't let it incapacitate them. At least the ones I knew did not. But I have no doubt in every war, there were many who were permanently emotionally scarred by the experiences they endured. They did not have the support structures that are available today, and from what I can see from news coverage, the support structures are still lacking.

The long and short of it is that I want to re-think this issue much more carefully and deeply before making any judgments about it. There are so many things that play into this. Different generations, different values, different parenting styles, different levels of exposure to difficult situations, quality of training etc. To the generations of veterans today coming home after serving valiantly on foreign shores, many coming back wounded or maimed, their pain and their hurt is real. They need love, help and understanding, not dismissiveness. I need to separate what I see on the boob tube and read in print media, and hear more from what the soldiers say themselves, and what those with expertise in the military have to say about it. And listen with love, compassion and caring.

I wish so many of the World War II generation weren't leaving us. Most of the World War I generation are gone. I wish more of them had shared their experiences. It is more than possible that PTSD has been there all along in every conflict, but it was just unrecognized. Perhaps some of them have left a record behind, and I just haven't read it or encountered it. You could hear much on the excellent World at War series narrated by the late Sir Laurence Olivier, but I imagine even that epic series only scratched the surface of how awful the war really was. I have an enormous amount to learn on this subject, all the more reason to avoid knee-jerk reactions when seeing or hearing news coverage of this issue, and then having it made even worse by politicians who cynically use the veterans for their own political purposes. We're dealing with human beings here—who gave their all for their country. In this hyper-political age, that's what we all to easily forget. Human beings with hearts, souls, minds and emotions. And pain.

Again, to reiterate a point—it is possible that earlier generations because of the hardships of the Depression and basic hard life were able to endure traumas that a more sheltered generation had not had to endure. But join me in waiting, and listening, and trying to filter out all the chattering classes. Let's hear what the men and women of our armed forces have to say. Their stories are what we need to hear.

I'm learning, but sometimes it is a slow process.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Repost of Political Cynicism

I can't believe the way that I have been neglecting my blog. I get into these cycles now and then, but I truly think the past few months have been the worst in terms of me finding time (and inspiration) to put something up here. The reasons are both work and personal, but so it goes.

In the meantime, I am going to repost something I put up back in 2008 during the last national election cycle. Most readers of this blog know that I am a Genesis fan, and that I think keyboardist Tony Banks is a brilliant writer. Below are the lyrics to his song "Red Day on Blue Street." Being British, Tony probably wouldn't have had his eye much on American politics, and the song was written before the "Red State" / "Blue State thing became part of the political lexicon.

Anyway, I think most of us can identify with his general cynical disgust over the political scene. Of course, there are truly good men and women in the system, and they do fight the best they can for right and justice. But there are more than enough snakes in the grass too. Read and ponder.

(Tony Banks/Nik Kershaw)

They're kissing babies and telling me lies
They're taking over my television
They're making noises that sound so wise
Trying to influence my decision

Rituals old fashioned
With speeches so proud and passionate
Hope reigns, fears rule
I may be crazy but I'm not such a fool
No such fool

Red day on blue street
And this world promises everything
Old shoes on new feet
Again nothing changes
Red day on blue street

Here comes a man with a face so sincere
Here comes another with power on his mind
Both with a want for a word in my ear
Both with a message of hope for my kind

Heads of this nation
Fight lies with misinformation
And this gives, that takes
One or the other for the difference it makes
None at all

Red day on blue street
And this world promises everything
Old shoes on new feet again
Nothing changes
Red day on blue street

We are the chosen ones
You have asked us to serve you
We deserve you

It's going the way that we said it would
We say that you never had it so good
No one's a loser who plays our game
The difference is clear, we just changed our name
Nobody knows that it's just the same

Red day on blue street
Or how about
Blue day on red street
It doesn't matter, it really doesn't
It doesn't matter, it really doesn't

Somebody showing me the magical way
Somebody waving the key to my chains
They must believe I was born yesterday
They must believe I've got sand for my brains

Members historical
Woo me with words rhetorical
Blood runs, mud flies
Can't see a thing for the wool in my eyes
In my eyes

Red day on blue street
And this world promises everything
Old shoes on new feet again
Nothing changes

Red day on blue street
This world promises everything
Old shoes on new feet again
Nothing changes

Red day on blue street
Street, promises everything
Old shoes on new feet again
Nothing changes

Red day on blue street


P.S. By the way, I should say this for the record -- and it should be obvious by my previous posts. I think elections do matter.  My concern is that the entire mindset, morality and worldview of our culture has changed, and not by accident.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Congratulations to George McArdle

I've always loved the bass playing of former Little River Band member George McArdle. He was the bassist during most of the band's "classic" lineup hits in the mid to late 70s, and in my opinion, a bassist who is vastly underrated. Listen to his playing on the LRB albums "Diamentina Cocktail" and "Sleeper Catcher." Truly tremendous stuff.

After the latter album, George became a Christian and left to go to Bible college. I recently became aware that he has now released a solo album, and can't wait to check it out. Find out more here at his official website.

While the classic LRB lineup was able to play together in 2004 when they were inducted into the ARIA Music Awards hall of fame, the original members of the band lost the rights to the name in a legal wrangle. It's ironic, because the guys who wrote the songs, sang the glorious harmonies and played the music can't use or tour under that name. I still hold out hope that somehow we could see the classic lineup play together again. But in the meantime, congratulations to George for not only his accomplishment in getting an album out, but also for his testimony for Christ through the years.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I have been SO neglecting of this blog of late. And this post should have gone up first thing this morning instead of at nearly 3 P.M.

I want to wish all Moms out there a Happy Mother's Day. I am thankful to still have mine (pictured right) with me. She will be 90 next month. At her age, she has the usual aches and pains of old age plus some significant health challenges in the past couple of years, but she determinedly keeps pressing on. She loves the Lord and as she puts it, "never smoked a cigarette, never drank a drink and never danced a step." And it's done her well! I love her deeply.

So, here's to Moms all around the world. And here's what God's Word has to say on the subject:

A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother (Proverbs 15:20).

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

"Evangelicals" for Hamas?!?

I have known of Walid Shoebat for some time. Back when I was still co-hosting a radio program, we had Walid on as a guest and he shared his wonderful testimony of coming to faith in Christ.

Today, Walid posted this warning article about an organization conducting a campaign to undermine support for Israel. You'll note in the article that Walid references their connection to the Emergent Church movement, and as soon as I saw that, I knew what was going on. And I am not surprised. Irritated, but not surprised. I've been dealing with the EC and battling their theology/worldview for several years now.

In a way, even though I find it troubling that purported evangelicals would even be remotely supportive of a terrorist organization (though they deny this), I'm glad that this is back in the scope sights. People have had the mistaken assumption that the Emergent Church is an old issue, they've gone away and are no longer a threat to evangelical churches. Not so. They're still here, and they're still pushing.

You can find back posts on The Seventh Sola on the EC and read up on it. There are also several excellent books that have been written to deal with the movement's errors. Phil Johnson, the executive director of Dr. John MacArthur's Grace to You ministry, has done outstanding seminars on this subject, and I think they're still available via the Shepherd's Conference website or GTY.

There are different levels of Emergent/Emergence/Emerging churches. Some are more conservative theologically and others are way off the scale liberal. It can be very frustrating to deal with them because of their approach to propositional truth. It's been said talking to an Emergent and trying to pin them down on what they believe is like "nailing jello to the wall." That's not far off the mark. In essence, the idea behind the Emergent Church was to reach a generation that embraced postmodernism and rejected absolute truth, certainty, authority etc. Unfortunately, instead of trying to reach postmoderns with the Gospel, quite a few ended up becoming postmodern themselves, throwing biblical orthodoxy right out the window. In addition to their low view of the authority of the Bible, many of them also have a very dim view of premillennial eschatology, hence their low view of Israel.

And now, some of them are seemingly legitimizing Hamas for reasons of "justice?" Sad. But not surprising.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Update on Yesterday's Military Story

I am indebted to Ed Stetzer for the article linked here related to yesterday's report on the military going after people for witnessing. It appears the Pentagon says the story is false, and since I posted the Todd Starnes/Fox News website article yesterday, I felt compelled to share Ed's well done update on the situation. 

It is so easy these days—no matter how careful we think we're being—to pass on stories that come via email or from sources we typically trust as reliable. Remarkably, I was sent an email today by a friend and trusted Bible teacher about the Obama Administration that I strongly suspected was false, and checked on it via the usual urban legend websites that keep track of this stuff, and yes, the story was doctored footage originally aired on a comedy channel, but is now being circulated as fact, not comedy. I warned my friend of the hoax. And then I get nailed with one.

This time, because the story was put up by a respected media source, I trusted it and put it up. As Ed pointed out today on Twitter, Todd's report was much more restrained and careful than some of the more vehement things circulated out there. But we all—me included—need to be more careful and either doublecheck things or wait a while to post things to see if more facts come out. It's a shame in a way, because who has time to spend eons doing research on every report we see. But I'd rather be right and trustworthy rather than to circulate a false report. Scripture is pretty severe on bearing false witness.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Trouble for Christians in the Military?

I want you to peruse this Fox News story by Todd Starnes. Disturbing, to put it mildly.

I am going to reserve judgment until I see how this plays out. If the U.S. Armed Services under Obama are going to take a line like this, what becomes of military chaplains, who have been part of the game since the founding of the country? Do soldiers no longer have freedom of speech, even to talk amongst themselves as buddies in the mess hall?

I have a hunch this all is one ball of wax with what Barack Obama promised was his intent on coming into office" "To fundamentally change the United States." My question is, if the story about the military is indeed accurate, what are we going to do about it? Adding this to the other changes that most of the American people do not seem to support, how much longer are "we the people" going to tolerate it? When will we demand that our elected representatives (who actually hold more power than the White House) do something about it? And that means Republicans AND Democrats who love their country and its historic principles more than they love their party and current societal fads pushed by the media and activists. Not all Democrats are Saul Alinskyites. I remember the Scoop Jackson and Reagan Democrats who had little tolerance for this nonsense.

A good segment of society is going to have to make a decision. Are you going to allow yourselves to continue to be seduced by the government goodie bag—provided with other people's money—or do you want this to remain a free country where you can pursue your own dreams and govern your own destiny?