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The benefits of attack ads

Negative campaign ads appear to be on the rise with the approach of this fall’s congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign. Hardly anyone has a good word to say about them. The standard critique — that they demean our democracy, deceive voters and cause disgusted voters to stay home on Election Day — has the ring of truth. But this exaggerates the negative about negative ads while obscuring their benefits.

College cost isn’t big problem for poor students

To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society.

Make the right choice

Joshua, God’s servant, the leader of God’s chosen people Israel who succeeded Moses, his mentor, was growing old and knowing the character and the attitudes of his people was compelled to call them together. (Joshua 24: 14-14)

Birthday wows and woes

Since July is my birthday month, I guess I should write something about the past three-score and one anniversaries of the date. Actually, my very first memory is of my fourth birthday party. I have a vague recollection of playing “Drop the Handkerchief” and “London Bridge” and a birthday cake served on the front porch with presents. In 1947, we didn’t know about party themes, pizza/game parlors, or inflatable rentals for the lawn.

Saying a killer ‘snapped’ does not explain domestic violence

When Ronald Lee Haskell was accused of killing six members of his ex-wife’s family in Texas this month, I wondered how long it would take for a news report to suggest that the suspect had “snapped.” The scope and horror of the crime — the victims included four children ages 4 to 14 — meant it took a little while for this media narrative to show up. But there it was, two days later, familiar from innumerable stories of domestic violence that end in murder. An Alaska TV station gathered the observations of childhood friends, who described the youthful Haskell as funny, compassionate and religiously devout, then cited one friend’s observation that “Haskell must have snapped.” The reporter let the description hang there, and closed the piece, as if a single verb said it all. Rarely does a single word attempt to explain so much and fail so completely.

Basic steps can ensure a safe ATV ride

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of children I have seen critically injured in all-terrain vehicle crashes in my 20-plus years as a surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. But I can tell you what I almost always hear from their parents: They wish their child had been wearing the right helmet or been better educated on how to ride the vehicle safely.

Just do it

Nike’s catch phrase, “Just Do It “challenges me as a believer in a couple of ways. I have a very detail oriented; check the box kind of personality. I thrive on it. Sometimes I can sit for hours trying to decide where to start on a particular project and still not actually start unless I first make a list. I love to check things off my list. With each check I feel like I’ve taken a leap in the right direction.

How to stop a gossip

“Rumor has it…” What is it about having the edge on juicy information? What drives people to be the first to have and share some inside information? If someone starts off a sentence with, “Guess what I heard?” you had better be careful to check that information as truth before sharing it. Why is it we love rumors and gossip? What is even more ironic is that they are both forms of lies. If Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44) then why do people, Christians especially, run to them sometimes like moths to a flame?

A Lenten reflection

When my father died I was devastated. I was relatively young, as was he, and we were close — even though my parents were divorced and I lived with my mother in another community. The loss was enough to cause me to register shock. One of my coping devices is to compartmentalize, which I did in this case. As a result, I did not have to deal with my emotions until much later.

Conviction verses condemnation

God does not work in condemnation, guilt, and shame. He doesn’t say, “Shame on you” but “shame OFF you.” Condemnation, guilt, and shame are tools of Satan meant to tear you apart. Satan is a thief and his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy your life (John 10:10a).