The Role of Narrative in National Conflict

Professor George Stanciu is  a super writer who excels in various subject areas.  Here is a wonderful example of his skill in defining history in terms of narrative.  I believe you’ll appreciate his approach in using story to define how we got to where we are as a country.  This article appeared at: The Imaginative Conservative   as:  How America Went to War Against Itself.  Dr. Stanciu is the Academic Dean Emeritus at Magdalen College of Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire.  RMF

How America Went to War Against Itself
By George Stanciu

George Stanciu

That Americans cannot reach consensus on gun control, immigration policy, and climate change are symptoms of societal collapse, not from physical causes, such as the mindless destruction of a vital resource or a colder climate, but rather the splitting of a people’s storytelling into two opposed morality plays. The stable standoff between these two stories is most likely an illusion of the moment, for nothing remains static or fixed in America.


The Grand Narrative of War

The citizens of a Nation-State are held together by storytelling, which is especially evident during wartime.[1] On February 23, 1942, the 110th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday, my parents and millions of other Americans huddled around their radios to hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt deliver a fireside chat on the progress of the war. The President invoked how General Washington and his Continental Army overcame “formidable odds and recurring defeats,” so that “Washington’s conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since—a model of moral stamina.” He told his fellow Americans that “the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land,” and consequently each of us must “gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself.” We would show Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo that we are not “a nation of weaklings.” Ultimately, we Americans are fighting for the “whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”[2]

Without the grand narrative setting the goal of the United States to “save the homes and ideals of free men from axis domination,”[3] and then after the war to bring freedom to “all nations and peoples,”[4]Americans would not have so readily accepted the necessities of world war—economic hardship, prolonged separation from loved ones, and the deaths of spouses, siblings, and sons in far away, foreign lands.

My parents, born in Transylvania into a peasant life founded on ancient tradition, the teaching of the Orthodox Church, and face-to-face communal relations, not the Nation-State, nevertheless heeded the directives of President Roosevelt. Their grocery store in rural Michigan joined the war effort by becoming a center for scrap drives, supplying free seeds and plants for victory gardens, and contributing to the packages assembled by neighborhood women for local boys who had enlisted in the service. Continue reading

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Civility, Goodwill, and Ellen DeGeneres

It is impossible to deny with a straight face that there is an abundance of  hateful rhetoric, hostility, and  ill will loose in our society.  In fact, the disagreeableness and “party Spirit” we observe on all sides is arguably the defining characteristic of today’s public discourse.  Here is  a sampling of the Biblical standard for our actions and attitude toward others.  We’re called to be tenderhearted and to:

“…be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

“…like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.  For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,  and let him turn away from evil and do what is good.  Let him seek peace and pursue it,  because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.”         (1 Peter 3:8-12)

“…as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.  Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-15)

I know how far I fall short of  the above  standards – but I’m honestly working on it day-by-day and asking God for His grace and the Holy Spirit’s power to move ever closer to the biblical standard.  And, God is good and faithful and brings into my life a continuing stream of reminders to help me improve.  One such reminder landed in my inbox yesterday.  It is a delightful article by Pastor Bob Russell.  The article  appeared first at: bob  as: Kudos To Ellen DeGeneres.  RMF

Kudos To Ellen DeGeneres

By Bob Russell

Bob Russell

Ellen DeGeneres’ world-view is much different than mine. I think she’s a talented entertainer and a likeable person, but I don’t agree with her lifestyle or political beliefs. However, I really appreciated the statement the popular comedian made last week explaining why she attended an NFL game with former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

The national television broadcast featured a shot of Ellen DeGeneres and President Bush laughing together. The fact that she had a good time with Mr. Bush bothered many of her fans. Some expressed anger that she would even be seen in public with a man who had been responsible for initiating the Iraq War and taking a pro-marriage, pro-life stand during his presidency. They equated her casual friendship with the Bush’s as equivalent to fraternizing with the enemy.

George W. Bush & Ellen DeGeneris

Last week on her syndicated talk show Ellen DeGeneres took considerable time to address the issue. “Some people were upset,” she admitted. “They thought, ‘Why is a gay, Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative, Republican president?’” Many angry people tweeted about the seemingly mismatched pair, DeGeneres said.

The tweet that impressed her the most, however, was a positive one: “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again,” she read. Her audience cheered for the positivity, and DeGeneres explained she’s friends with many people who don’t share the same beliefs. “We’re all different. And I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different,” she continued. Continue reading

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The Evil of Abortion

The following is a series of three articles written by my online friend, Pastor Billy Long. He wrote the articles due to the serious issue of abortion and in response to the law recently enacted in New York allowing babies to be aborted even during the 3rd trimester, which would be right up until the time of birth. This law also allows the killing of the child if the aborted baby is born alive. Our Governor here in Virginia, Ralph Northam, has also endorsed this practice. These sorts of practices will bring the judgment of God upon our nation. We need to speak up about these abominations and Billy’s articles provide ample basis and rationale for us to be vocal in our condemnation and protests against abortions of convenience.  We also need to be fervent in our prayers as we seek to save innocent lives and precious souls and to warn those who practice this wicked behavior to repent and seek God’s mercy and  forgiveness.  Finally, the articles might be useful in counseling any person considering having or participating in an abortion.  Pastor Long heads Billy Long Ministries and can be contacted and his blog is at:   RMF

Three Articles on Abortion

by Billy Long

Pastor Billy Long



Excavations of pre-Israelite Canaan uncovered a large number of jars containing the remains of children sacrificed to Baal. Other excavations discovered many jars containing the remains of infants who had been sacrificed to Baal during King Ahab’s time. These jars bring to mind the photos of garbage cans filled with baby parts at abortion clinics. I showed one of these pictures to a high school girl once. Her reply was, “That’s just propaganda.” She was not able to bring herself to face the fact she was looking at actual babies dismembered and thrown away. Her political position would not allow her to accept the fact that these babies went through torture and excruciating pain as they were being killed and taken from their mother’s wombs.

The religious rites of Baal worship were noted for their sexual and immoral indulgences and for child sacrifice. Our own culture with its rampant sexual promiscuity has produced over 60 million abortions. The sexual practices of Baal worship and the promiscuity of our own current culture show that unbridled sexual activity outside of marriage leads to the death of children, whether sacrificed in religious worship to a pagan god or dismembered inside a mother’s womb to the god of convenience. In either case, the remains of infants are left behind in jars and garbage bins. Continue reading

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Honor Flight to Glory

It has been my honor and privilege to volunteer as a greeter for two Honor Flights, each of which originated in Chicago and landed at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC.  It was thrilling.  A dear friend, Bob Skiffington, and I went together on each occasion and were deeply moved at getting to greet and speak with the arriving veterans for a few moments before they boarded their buses to visit the memorials in DC. The flights brought in vets from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.   An extra treat was getting to visit with my son, Thatcher, who was also there as a representative of the Fairfax County Police Department.  Thatcher is a “sworn” Auxiliary Police Officer.  There was a fabulous band which played the Star Spangled Banner and  a nice collection of other patriotic songs and marches.  The following is a neat account of  the event by Bob Russell.  The article  appeared first at:  as A Thrilling Honor Flight and the One That Is to Come.  RMF  

APO Thatcher Furgerson with Fairfax County Police Officers

Welcoming Band


The Thrilling Honor Flight and the One That Is to Come

by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Two weeks ago, my friend Andy Potts invited me to accompany him on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. The Honor Flights were originated in 2005 to express appreciation to World War II veterans for their sacrificial service to our country. Organizers have recently expanded their mission to include those who served in Korea and Vietnam. Andy, a Korean War veteran, asked me to accompany him since every vet on the trip is required to have a guardian.

Andy Potts and Bob Russell

When we arrived at Louisville’s Standiford Field at 6:00 a.m., there were dozens of volunteers mingling with the veterans, answering their questions, and thanking them for their service. One young woman was dressed like “Rosie the Riveter,” the iconic poster girl representing women in the workplace during World War II. A trio of women dressed as World War II WACs (Women’s Army Corps), complete with 1940’s hats, hairdos, and stockings, circulated among the men, many of whom were over 90 years of age and in wheelchairs. Continue reading

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A Physicist Looks at Life

I’m at once fascinated and confused by quantum mechanics. The following article by George Stanciu sheds much light on the subject for me and especially as it deals with the implications it has on no less an issue than the meaning of life. When I initially received the article I forwarded a copy to my Christian friend and PhD physicist John Kershenstein, and asked him if he had any thoughts on it as regards how God and/or the Holy Spirit play into quantum mechanics and  any implications  regarding spirituality, Christian faith, or free will. I’ve always admired John and appreciate his insights and the way he is able to bring more light to topics like this than I would have come to on my own.  Here is John’s reply:

I enjoyed the article. There’s a book I would recommend on this whole subject. Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum  by Lee Smolin. [I purchased it and am plowing my way through it. rmf]  I’m surprised that Stanciu didn’t reference it.  Essentially it says that either quantum mechanics is wrong or at least is incomplete. Smolin doesn’t give any answers but is hoping a more complete theory is being developed. Of the two schools that Stanciu alludes to,  Copenhagen Interpretation, and the non Copenhagen interpretation, Smolen is in the latter camp..
Looking for theological meaning in quantum mechanics is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go into. The more I think about it, especially when thinking about cosmology, my feeling is that God created the universe and it’s laws to leave the observer/student in absolute awe of his omnipotence  I think he made the universe, etc., knowable in such a way that the more we know it the more we realize that we don’t fully know it and the more there is to understand. (He also did this to give physicists job security.) Ultimately I think this is part of what heaven is all about. We will have eternity to keep learning more and more about God. And that learning will never have an end. That’s the Kershenstein interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Ever thoughtful and thorough John sent a follow-up note based on the “coincidental” appearance of Colossians 2 in his Church’s daily reading for  9/9/19, which includes the passage:
“…for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2,3
I think this sums it up. I wonder if Paul was a physicist in his spare time.  John

The article by Professor Stanciu appeared first at: The Imaginative Conservative as: Quantum Physics and Mind.  For those interested in learning more about the development and implications of quantum mechanics Dr. Stanciu’s article concludes with some wonderful references and links to applicable sources.  I’m super grateful that he gave me permission to repost his article here.  I have taken the liberty of adding a few photographs of scientists and physicists mentioned in the article.

PS – This article and the whole role of the observer/detector sort-of reminds of the question: If I make a statement and my wife isn’t there to hear it am I still wrong anyway?

Quantum Physics and Mind
By George Stanciu

George Stanciu

In 1989, the double-slit experiment revolutionized understanding of matter: The universe is not deterministic as promulgated by the worldview of Newtonian physics. Surprisingly, the meaning of quantum physics, a most arcane subject, remote from human experience, in light of these discoveries, raises the most profound question a person can ask “Who am I?”

Illustration from La Vraye Histoire du Bon Roy Alixandre (The Romance of Alexander in Old French prose) by Pseudo-Callisthenes, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

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Dealing with Devistating Thoughts

I doubt that there are any of us who have not  been hounded by bad thoughts at one time or another.  These are the kind of thoughts that continue to reappear in the theater of our minds and rerun constantly, performance after performance; nagging, negative notions,  ideas, and even temptations that refuse to leave us in peace.  Malissa McLaughlin addressed the issue brilliantly in her Truthful Grace blog.  The article appeared at:  as:  How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?  I so appreciate the skillful way that Ms. McLaughlin uses Scripture as a powerful tool to defeat the evil thoughts that plague us.  RMF

How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?

By Melissa McLaughlin

Photo by Frank K on

Melissa McLaughlin

We had just arrived home after visiting my parents for a home-cooked dinner. Mom packed us a hefty bag of leftovers, our very own “goodie bag”. My mom’s special recipe crispy chicken, homemade apple sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. Mmm, mmm, good! But the crowning touch was her chocolate cake. Oh my! There is no chocolate cake like my mom’s chocolate cake! Rich, moist, decadent chocolate cake topped with melted Hershey bar icing. A chocolate lover’s dream!

As I put away the leftovers, I placed the slices of chocolate cake in the cupboard for tomorrow. In order to avoid overindulging, I promised myself I would save this delightful and delectable treat for tomorrow night’s dessert.

(As a lover of chocolate anything I relate to this obsessive thought illustration. RMF)

No sooner had I set this reasonable and healthy boundary for myself, than thoughts of this chocolate cake bombarded my mind like a torrential hailstorm! Why should I wait? It would taste so good right now, even though I was already full from the meal we had just eaten. It is a homemade delicacy that I don’t often get to enjoy. Why wait? Why wait even one more second?

Like a walk in summer fields where nettles and prickers attach themselves to the very fibers of our clothing requiring concentrated effort to extract, so thoughts of the chocolate cake clung to my mind with a fierce and unyielding grip. What a war can take place in our thoughts!

I enjoyed that piece of cake the next day for dessert, savoring the flavor to the fullest, not despite having to wait, but because of having waited. Chocolate heaven!

In this case my thoughts were captivated by something good, my mom’s chocolate cake. But sometimes, our thoughts become hyper-focused on things that are not good. Continue reading

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Sexuality God’s Way

For years I’ve appreciated the work of Gary Thomas, the author of some great books on marriage including  Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?  I just came across an article by Mr. Thomas which I believe is right on target for what is needed in a thriving marriage.  According to the author: “This post is to unmask unhealthy relating in order to point you elsewhere toward a place of healing and redemption.”  With our society’s clearly unhealthy  obsession with sex it is wonderful to read some honest truth about the subject.

This article originally appeared  at:  as 6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality. Mr. Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 18 books, other than Sacred Marriage including:  Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and  Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Western Seminary. See Mr.Thomas’  latest book here.  RMF

6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality
Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas

What are the marks of a healthy sexual relationship?
It’s not inappropriate to ask what is most pleasurable or most exciting for married couples, but meaningful lovemaking is so much more than creating greater sexual arousal and climaxes. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to also ask “What are the markers of a wholesome sexual experience that is accomplishing God’s relational intent?”
In my view, “healthy” protects happy pleasure;  it doesn’t threaten it.
I write this post with a bit of pastoral concern: Lisa and I have met some wives (and the occasional husband) who felt tempted to compromise their faith and even their own sense of sanity because they realized after getting married that their spouse has some sexual hang-ups.

The Gary and Lisa Thomas family

At first, they thought the best thing to do was to “go along.” Going along never works; it just prolongs the inevitable crisis. Nursing an unhealthy inclination never makes things better; it just makes the way back a little longer and ultimately more difficult.
Seeking a healthy sexual relationship is a fair and good and wise and holy pursuit.
These six marks aren’t exhaustive; I’m sure there are many more, but here’s a short, non-scientific test to see how you and your spouse are doing in regards to sexual intimacy.

Healthy sex is relational

1 Christian sex is always relational sex.
Any sexual experience divorced from relational connecting isn’t healthy sex. Pornography, voyeurism, predatory touching, any form of paying for sex, exhibitionism, group sex, anonymous sex, or objectifying marital sex all have the same common denominator: sex divorced from relational connecting. Most forms of sexual deviancy include a separation between sex and emotional connection.
In a biblical view of sex, physical intimacy draws husband and wife ever closer together. After the intimacy is over they smile, hold on to a very pleasant shared memory, and their bond is deepened accordingly. Unhealthy sex further isolates an already damaged person. They “wake up” from the sexual experience, feel increased shame (making him/her a little less capable of authentic intimacy) and want to hide what just happened from everyone instead of remember it fondly with a special someone.
Healthy sex says to each (willing) participant: “You matter. You are desired. You are cherished. I am not having sex with a body but making love to you as my special 3-dimensional (body, mind mixed with emotions, and spirit) spouse. I affirm you and want to please you.”
Be wary of any form of sexual excitement or fulfillment that is separate from appropriate relational connection. If it’s not drawing husband and wife closer together, it’s not healthy. Continue reading

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