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After the shutdown

After the shutdown

Well, our brief national nightmare appears to be over, as the most recent U.S. government shutdown has come to a close. A compromise has been reached in Washington, yet the roots of disagreement appear to be unmoved.

This most recent crisis only underlines the greater reality that we are divided, not only in Washington, but as a country on whole. We are at a crossroads, just as Ancient Rome was in the first century before the birth of Christ.

According to the late, great historian, J. Rufus Fears, “In 60 B.C., a crisis of almost unprecedented proportion had been reached (in Rome) over the lack of a budget and the national debt.” The Roman Republic, which had fallen from its glory days of a virtuous and patriotic citizenry, was troubled by other similar problems, including elections that were decided only by campaign contributions, an immigration crisis and wars in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Roman people of the time seemed to care more about Gladiator games than civic virtue and were unwilling to carry the awesome responsibility of self-government. By the year 59 B.C. the Roman Republic, which was divided into two major political parties much like our own, turned to the eventual dictatorship of Julius Caesar.

A national crisis, however, does not necessarily need to destroy a republic and create a dictator. In fact, American history shows the contrary. Our own Founders, in 1786, faced a debt crisis of epic proportions and emerged from it all the stronger. What separated those leaders, ones like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, from today comes down to one ingredient: Patriotism.

Let’s pray for wisdom for our current leaders and that God would rise up more patriots like George Washington.

When They Were Twenty-Five: Baby Boomers

When They Were Twenty-Five: Baby Boomers

For this next article in the Generations series, I am going to do something very shocking. I’m dividing the Baby Boomers into two groups. This might not sit well with some of them because that makes the Boomers an average-sized generation instead of the second largest one. Boomers like things to be big!

There is method in my madness. There are 363,905 Baby Boomers living in Oklahoma. The first group is what some term “Early Boomers” (born: 1946-1954. Age: 59-67). My next article will be about the second group of “Late Boomers,” which many believe should be considered separately as “Generation Jones” (born 1955-1964. Age: 49-58).

Baby Boomers were born (1946-1954) in a time of unprecedented prosperity in the United States. Because of this, they usually have an optimistic attitude and tend to take material things for granted. Rather than aspiring to the American Dream, Boomers have been born into it. When they were 25, the first Starbucks opened at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington and the Intel 4004 was the first microprocessor. Their impact on culture and technology are the hallmarks of the Boomer generation.

Boomers have shaped the world with technology innovations in just about every area of learning, especially in physical science, sociology, psychology and technology. They invented the personal computer, the internet, satellite networks, etc. Most of America’s technical engineers are Baby Boomers.

As the first generation that was raised on TV, they grew up watching Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, but by 1971, when the oldest Boomer turned 25, everything was changed. Sweeping social and cultural change came to the United States and continued  throughout their lifetimes. Boomer values changed society in the United States with regard to women, race, sexual mores, the rearing of children, the economy–even clothing! If you are wearing jeans at work as you read this, thank a Boomer. Their informal approach to life changed the business world from formal suits and ties to “business casual.”

Baby Boomers have a strong need to define what they do in terms of morality and right and wrong. They are the force behind movements from the Hippies and Free Love to the Jesus People and contemporary Christian music. Their tastes in music, movies, and design have shaped the present American context. They are the most educated generation in American history. They value and respect education. Baby Boomers are insatiable learners who are constantly on a quest of personal development.

Life in the SBC:

The argument could be made that the Boomers are the makers of the Southern Baptist Convention. As children they were enrolled in SBC churches during the Million More in ‘54” campaign. The sheer size of their numbers forced the SBC to adapt to them with developments such as age-graded Sunday School, church busing, Vacation Bible School, and full-time children’s ministers.  As youth, the SBC experienced explosive growth in church-based youth ministry, youth camps, youth musicals, etc. SBC campus ministries like BCM were at their height at the time the SBC Boomers were in college.  Many Boomers became believers during the Jesus Movement of the 1970‘s.  As they entered the ministry, Boomers reshaped the landscape of the SBC, creating new expressions of church with contemporary music, mega-churches, and Para-church organizations.  Boomers will continue to shape the future of the SBC as they face retirement age. Between now and 2015, the people entering retirement age is projected to increase 54%. Boomers do not expect old age to slow them down or keep them from contributing to society. Look for the Baby Boomers to continue their active involvement in the SBC.

Boomer have shared experiences growing up that shaped their lives, many have a similar outlook on life.

Baby Boomer Outlook

Youthfulness. Boomers don’t want to be kids forever, but they do want to stay young by intensely questioning established ways and bringing the youthful sentiment of looking at things with fresh eyes.

Personal spiritual development. They tend to pursue their growth using programs, many of which have videos, books and seminars.

Achievement. Boomers are driven and hard working and tend to think a person needs to pay his or her dues to get to the top. Position is the result of creative action, hard work, and dedication.

Give a little face time. The generation that gave us “Woodstock” loves conferences and large gatherings. These are places where Boomers thrive because they like to mingle with others and form relationships.

Consensus building. They value egalitarian leadership. They prefer to work on problems in teams and task force groups. Give them a place to meet regularly and a team of competent people and they feel they can change the world.

Spend the money. Boomers are focused on the present more than the future. For this reason, they tend to spend more than save. They want to spend in ways that have measurable impact in the present.

Movie Review: 42

Movie Review: 42

I had the chance to see 42, the Jackie Robinson story. I invited my mother to go with me because I knew she would enjoy it. Mom grew up around the time Robinson went through his courageous experience.

I enjoyed it as well. I like biographical films, especially if they are done accurately and feature great acting. 42 meets these criteria.

The movie has a PG-13 rating, and anyone who has any idea of what the movie is about should not be surprised by such a rating. The “N” word is used excessively throughout the show. There is an uncomfortable scene featuring Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who says this disgusting utterance in similar fashion as one calling chickens.

The details of the historic ballparks were amazing. How they replicated the Polo Grounds, where the former New York Giants played, was a thrill for this sports nut to view. The Polo Grounds featured an unusually deep center field that was uniquely designed with a square notch at straightaway center. The movie made you feel like you were sitting in the stands.

Chadwick Boseman is excellent playing Robinson. He looks like an athlete, and shows some of the attitude Robinson was known to have.

But the star of the show is obvious. Veteran actor Harrison Ford gave an incredible performance as Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey.

Ford is not known for playing historic characters. He hasn’t done impersonations or replicated mannerisms. He made his fame yelling at robots, kissing Princess Leia, bantering with a Wookiee; or wearing a fedora, carrying a whip, hating snakes and collecting priceless artifacts while being chased by villains or a large boulder.

Playing Rickey may have placed Ford at a different level on the acting sphere. The transition is similar to Sean Connery’s, when the Scotsman collected his 1988 Oscar for his role in The Untouchables. Before playing the street cop-turned mentor for Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness, Connery appeared to be washed up as an action movie actor, but he actually enhanced his acting career playing older roles in movies that followed The Untouchables. Perhaps this is a path Ford may take?

Ford’s Rickey appears to be true to character. Rickey comes across in the movie as a combination of shrewd businessman and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. In real life, he actually was a successful manager who stood tall on social issues of the day and made known his Christian faith, even more than what the film reveals.

To get more details about Rickey, read David Prince’s article “The ‘ferocious Christian gentleman’ behind Jackie Robinson’s famous moment.” After reading this piece, I gained even more respect and appreciation for Rickey.

Prince writes “I fear the moniker, ‘ferocious Christian gentleman’ sounds oxymoronic in contemporary evangelical circles where manhood is often reduced to being a nice guy and God is envisioned as a kind of cosmic smiley face. Where Christian discipleship is cheapened to generic niceness, men pursue comfort and respectability in the place of self-sacrificial ‘great experiments’ that demand ferocious Christian gentlemen.”

Men like Rickey are rare today. Not many businessmen are willing to go against culture and stand on Christian principles. As Prince states, “. . . our churches are in desperate need of some ferocious Christian gentlemen.”

The movie 42 does present the harshness of segregation our country experienced, but thankfully, the film also shows the powerful and humble stand both Robinson and Rickey take.