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Economic growth is missing ingredient

This year’s Republican presidential race has generated an unusual number of unusually bad ideas — Donald Trump on Muslims, Ted Cruz on carpet bombing, Marco Rubio on male footwear. It has also has produced one of the best: Jeb Bush’s 4 percent plan.

Flimsy, shallow and a bother just to watch

If you’ve seen one movie based on a Nicholas Sparks romance, you’ve seen them all. Like the others, “The Choice” bleeds sap and treacle. And the story, even by Sparks’ standards, is so lame I wanted to punch the movie in the face, so to speak.

Making plan for mom with Alzheimer’s should start with conversation

Q. I think my mother, who is in her late 70s, is showing signs of Alzheimer’s. She is increasingly forgetful, and has become negative and nasty. She was never like this. My two brothers think that there is nothing wrong with her because they only visit once or twice a month and then stay for an hour or two. I’m with her on an almost daily basis. How can I convince them that she has a problem that we need to address?

End-of-life talks tough, but necessary

Q. I am in my late 70s. Although I have no life-threatening illnesses, I want to talk to my children about my end-of-life wishes. When they were here over the holidays, they absolutely refused to talk about it. They will be back in February, and I am determined to have the conversation. Please give me some advice on how to approach 40-year-olds who won’t have a discussion.

Dastardly deeds and fun with food are the right recipe for ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’

Back in 2008, DreamWorks Animation scored big with “Kung Fu Panda,” a sharp-looking, action-packed, lovable little movie about believing in yourself, father-son relationships, master-student relationships and the funny side of overeating. It pulled in a massive $632 million around the world. Three years later, the same studio continued the same story with the same voice cast (Jack Black played the lazy but excitable and humorously annoying title character) in “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which earned about $34 million more than the original.

Why ‘dieting’ is harmful

I really dislike the word diet, or more specifically, what it stands for. The root of the word is derived from the Greek diaita, which means “way of living.” Used in that context, I have no problem. It can mean: the way in which we eat. But, the vast majority of the time, that’s not the way the word is used. In our world, a diet typically refers to something temporary, associated with weight loss. And in this context, here’s the real skinny on diets: none of them truly work.

The power of the spoken word

As a child you may have used the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Could Ted Cruz be disqualified?

If you attend a presidential campaign event, you may come across someone wearing colonial garb or an Uncle Sam costume or body paint. But a Ted Cruz rally in Iowa last weekend featured something possibly unprecedented: guys dressed up as Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Anti-abortion witch hunts at work

There is much news about one of the most controversial issues of our day. Since it competes with the noise that invariably accompanies any discussion of it, especially in a presidential election year, it can be difficult to peel the details free of the decibels. The issue, yes, is abortion: a shameful if legal practice, some sincerely believe, and some more sincerely than others; though the question at hand is apportioning the shame among the political class.

Codependent? It doesn’t have to continue

Q. My husband barks at me rather than speaks; he criticizes my cooking, my clothes and just about everything I do. I am so unhappy, but afraid of the financial problems I may have if I leave since I’m in my 50s and have had little work experience. He tells me that I’m too sensitive, but I feel that he is a bully. Is this co-dependency and why do so many people fall victim to it?

What Bumpers was

In 1992, I interviewed the late Sen. Dale Bumpers while working my first reporting job for the Arkadelphia Daily Siftings Herald. As we sat on the hood of his gray Pontiac Bonneville outside Ouachita Baptist University’s football field, I asked him why he had never run for president despite once being included as a possible contender on the cover of Time magazine. He looked wistful for a moment, munched some popcorn, said I didn’t have enough space to print the reasons, and then talked about the strain that being president would cause for his family.

2016 – A new Brenda

I spoke with my crazy friend Deb on New Year’s Eve morning and she asked if I’d made resolutions yet. I said I’d thought about a few and shared them. She gave a few of her own and, by the time our conversation ended, we had gotten down-right silly. As usual. So, the following is a collaboration with my friend as we discussed the resolutions we INTENDED to make before giving serious thought to the outcome…

Husband’s drinking likely problematic

Q. My husband’s doctor told him to slow down on his drinking. He has slowed down, but he still drinks too much. Over the holidays he had at least three glasses of wine most nights. Some nights, he would consume an entire bottle. Then he would go a couple of days without drinking. He says that he’s not dependent on alcohol, so he doesn’t have a problem. I say he does. What is your opinion?

Beyond Christmas

Every Christmas season, Christians give thanks to God for his love and grace, showered upon us through the birth of Jesus. We give to those in need, and we watch heart-warming movies about family and romance. We sing beautiful carols such as “Silent Night” that point to the joy of our salvation through Jesus’ life, death resurrection and future coming.

Gay man shouldn’t have to choose between husband, sister

Q. I am a 45-year-old gay man who moved away from home about 20 years ago. Recently, I married my partner of 15 years. I have always visited my sister, with my partner, for a week after the new year. She told me that if I brought my “husband” this year neither of us would be welcome. She suggested that I come alone and not mention my marital status. I’m really torn. I love my partner, but my sister and her children are the only family I have. Suggestion?