February 21, 2018


In the headline of today’s Los Angeles Times: ARE HOMELESS HERE TO STAY? Of course, that’s a big duh. The answer is an unequivocal yes! Jesus told us so: “You will always have the poor among you.” Indeed, in big cities like my own Los Angeles, it’s hard to miss.

But that’s not the only intractable problem in our modern American society.

In the summer of 2014, Michael Brown robbed a convenience store and assaulted the store’s owner. In a subsequent struggle with a police officer, he was shot dead. His city of Ferguson, MO erupted in violence for several days.

A few months later, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech at an event in Atlanta. In it, he lamented the demise of young Mr. Brown. “In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement…to help end racial profiling, once and for all.”

May 25, 2017


I need to rant today.
One of my clients has written a fascinating memoir about her experiences as a missionary in the war-torn Middle East. Great story, great writing, interesting perspectives.
As I shop this story around to publishers, the responses are mixed. Some comment that the author’s platform (name recognition) is weak. Others worry that the subject matter isn’t timely (even as the wars continue!). Almost everyone agrees that the writing is strong and the author’s style is engaging.
Yet, there’s one response that I didn’t expect: Today, an editor expressed concern that the story is told in the voice of a white conservative American Christian. VERY politically incorrect these days. Yup, white American Christians already control most of the world, and they’re looking to take over the rest. (Witness the many American military engagements around the globe, as evidence.)

May 2, 2017


A few weeks ago, Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker revealed a bit of personal info about Vice President Mike Pence: He will not meet or dine alone with a woman who isn’t his wife. The Pences are known to be devout Christians, and with this restriction the Vice President is following the Billy Graham rule. (Graham announced decades ago, that he follows this policy.)

Is this a good or bad thing? I don’t know. But is Pence truly deserving of the scorn that has been heaped upon him in recent weeks?

On the one hand, Scripture cautions us, “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Eph 5:3). Private meetings between men and women can certainly provide that “hint.” Just ask Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, and Roger Ailes. With a third person in the room, their careers could have turned out very differently.

March 27, 2017


I am increasingly disappointed in the shallowness of news reporting these days. So much of it seems driven by a political agenda, not a quest for truth. And for me it only serves as an upward call to be more careful and honest in my own writing.

Recently, two young women were denied entry to a United Airlines flight because of their inappropriate attire: leggings. Such hatred! Such sexism! Misogyny! Stop the presses! Who are these corporate titans, to tell women what to wear? The problem is, the story isn't as simple as it might seem at first glance.

February 1, 2017


Many years ago, in one of my many careers, I worked for a background check service. Employers are very selective about who they trust to work for them, so they hired our company to check them out.

For every project, the subject provided:

Full given name at birth
Place of birth
All aliases
Social Security number
Driver’s license number
Employment history
Education history
Their consent to very this information

January 11, 2017


Yesterday, I watched a portion of Jeff Sessions' Senate confirmation hearing. I agree that it’s only right and proper that he (or any cabinet nominee) should face close scrutiny before we endow him with such awesome authority. His career experience, personal character, and general demeanor are all fair game, at a time like this. But in the view of this observer, the tests of orthodoxy seem to be getting weirder and weirder with each passing year.

Under questioning from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, it seems that Mr. Sessions keeps company with some shady characters. Apparently, he received a few awards from people with dangerous beliefs: One guy is a racist, one hates women, and the other is a general schmuck. "Will you return the awards and sever all ties?" 

REALLY? Is this what our country has come to?

December 27, 2016


The holiday of Kwanzaa is now upon us. This seven-day feast (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) was devised in 1966 by Professor Ronald Everett of California State University at Long Beach, to instill a sense of cultural pride among African-American families. According to the website (www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org), the holiday celebrates the “ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice.”

In recent years, Kwanzaa has gained traction as an occasion for gatherings of family and friends. It’s rooted in the seven principles of Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Hallmark sells Kwanzaa-themed greeting cards that emphasize these principles, conveying a message of dignity and empowerment. At least, that’s the popular account that most people hear.

October 18, 2016


Toya Graham is my hero.

Oh, the name doesn’t ring a bell? She’s the young mother who got caught on network TV, roughing up her teenage son because she found out that he was rioting on the streets of Baltimore. She reminds me of my own mother.

That’s right: In my old neighborhood, we knew our neighbors and they knew us. If someone hurt one of her children, Mom would run to our defense like a mother grizzly caring for her cub. But if I was the offender, she’d be the first to apologize on my behalf and then slap me back to my senses. Which is as it should be. How could she complain about the bully down the street, if her own children were no better?

Mom knew that it wasn’t in her power to fix all of the ills of our society. But one thing she could do, was to keep my sister and me from making it worse. And it worked: We’ve been (mostly) on the straight and narrow ever since. 

October 9, 2016

Political Correctness Has Come to This?

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes, will know that I am a person of many strong opinions. On politics, religion, economics, relationships, publishing, whatever. I don’t apologize for my views, although in recent years I’ve become smarter in how I express them. No longer do I try so hard to win every argument. To prevail in battle but lose a friend (or a client), is surely a hollow victory.

Lately, few issues have divided our nation quite like the problems of police excess and civil unrest. Cop shoots criminal suspect, suspect shoots cop. Who was right, and who was wrong? Often, it seems, we form our opinions before the ink is dry on the story. Nevermind the details, forget the nuances. Let’s run into the streets, lay blame, and burn down a department store. As if.

Last week, one of my Facebook friends posted a short rant that began: There is no such thing as a good cop. Of course I couldn’t disagree more, and I don’t know how he came to that conclusion. I tried to draw him out to understand his reasons, with no response.

August 5, 2016

Why I Don't Wear a Cross

As a child growing up in church, I strove to understand what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. I attended Sunday school faithfully for years, but my teachers didn’t do much to help the process. That is, they filled my brain with theology, rules, and information, but not a lot of practical advice. We never (and I mean, never) discussed sex, dating, decision-making, discipleship, drug abuse, or any of the important real-world issues that affect the daily life of a 20th-century teenager in the big city. I wanted to live a righteous live worthy of my calling, but…how?

The physical trappings of faith confounded me. Jesus wore a robe and sandals, but I have to wear a tie and shiny shoes? Our Messiah worshiped in the open air and fed the poor, but we had to spend endless sums to repair our crumbling chapel? So many questions I dared not ask.