Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joy to the World!

In the midst of all the ideological and theological battles raging around us, Christmas opens our eyes to the wonder of:
  • The fact that there is a cosmos, a universe, a planet custom made for us. Were we thankful today for our breath of life?
  • The hope that is renewed in our hearts in the midst of winter's storms.
  • The love we enjoy with family and friends.
  • The Christmas Story that actually proclaims (in the words of G.K. Chesterton), "Glory to God in the Lowest!" One of the names given to Jesus in the Gospel According to St. Matthew is Immanuel - literally translated, "The With-Us-God." 
  • The thought that Christmas is the narrative of holy humility, of the Creator condescending to become a flesh-and-blood part of our story. 
  • Our universal and unquenchable desire for peace - in our own souls and among all nations.
  • Millions of ordinary people pausing this Season and doing extraordinary works of service for those who can not return the favor.
  • The macrocosmic beauty of galaxies and mountain peaks and the microcosmic intricacies of a single cell. Such Design evokes reverence for the Designer.
  • The freedom we have in the nation to debate about and live with our deepest differences while forging a common bond of virtue.
Let's take several moments to enjoy the wonders of Creation,  Christmas and laughing children. Perhaps in these moments we will find the courage to embrace the future with the faith, hope and love of Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Charlie, Kathy, Michael, Charlotte and Christopher Self

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Where Has Sanity Gone?

Every Holiday Season the battles begin anew over a creche in the public square and whether or not Kwaanza is getting equal time with Christmas and Hanukkah. This year's "twist" consists of some members of the US Congress affirming Islam and Ramadan and refusing to affirm the importance of Christianity and the persecution of Christians around the globe.

I am a historian. There is a simple explanation for this insanity. Yes, it is insanity when the tradition of a vast majority of Americans is relegated to obscurity while the faith of many of our enemies is given special attention. 

Here is the problem: The protestors of 1968 are the "activists" of 2008; however, they are stuck in an ideological and moral time warp. They are still fighting what they see as the dominant "White-Patriarchal-Judeo-Christian-Traditional-Values-Colonialist-America-First" culture. All these hyphens are needed because the enemy list is so vast!

The deep self-hatred for all things traditional and Western is acute among these "Well-Educated-Mostly-White-Academic-Public Service [What - get a real job and support capitalism?)-One-World-Global (unless you hate the WTO)-Elites."

Radical Islam wants to reify the 13th century and there is nary a cry of protest from this quarter. "It is because of poverty - and that is our fault!" they cry. Nonsense. There is enough oil money in the Islamic nations to feed everyone and to stimulate new economies. 

Al Gore makes over $100 Million from peddling fear and he is rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize and acclaim from jet-setters who have a Prius tucked away for public appearances. 

The nine Congresspersons who refused to affirm that Christians are persecuted and that Christianity is a faith honored by millions are part of this group still fighting the 1950s. They should be leading our fight against terror, the real fight for the environment (sound planning and wise preservation) and the wars on AIDS, poverty and slavery.

The answer to such insanity is clear, honest thinking rooted in history and hope. Narcissism and nostalgia are the twin enemies of honest assessment and hopeful aspiration. The Insane/Self-Destructive Elites need to ponder the economic engine that drives their Vespas. They need to think about where freedom is found and rediscover that freedom means responsibility and virtue and sometimes fewer choices, not endless navel-gazing about identity. 

Conservatives need to end all self-delusion about any halcyon days of yesteryear and allow deep-rooted values to propel us toward a more free and just society.

It was not ethnic or gender politics that brought Civil Rights to millions in 1965 - it was universal, Judeo-Christian principles (with some Ghandian pragmatism included!) that shaped the Rev. Dr. MLK's great assertion that we are assessed not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.

It was not "redefining-the-family-sexualization politics" that saw our nation through a Depression, World War and the rebuilding of Europe and Japan. It was millions of hard-working people learning (sometimes the hard way) to live with their differences while making a difference!

Islam will not promote any peace except that of submission (coerced or voluntary; immediate or long-term) to its dominance. Yes, there were moments of cultural flourishing and toleration in parts of Spain and  the Middle East centuries ago; however, the contemporary Muslim voices for pluralism are few and persecuted.

Where did sanity go? It was sown to the wind of self-indulgence and we are reaping the whirlwind of self-destruction.

Is there hope? Absolutely! The hope lies in moral and spiritual renewal that affirms timeless truth while creating timely solutions. A non-polluting car is near - if free markets will partner with public good. Sustainable ecosystems are possible, if we get past the unproductive polemics. AIDS can be conquered - with medical care and moral responsibility.

Forty years ago I was a fifth-grader fascinated by the Presidential race between Humphrey, Nixon and Wallace, scared of the violence in Chicago, saddened by the Vietnam War, but hopeful about the future. I am still saddened by our current challenges and I am still hopeful - if we get off the lemming-style pathway of hatred and choose the road of responsive love.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 5 is Reality

Our Founders ratified the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July and John Hancock affixed his famous signature to the document that day. The other delegates would sign Declaration on August 2. John Adams and others recognized the importance of July 4th and suggested that it be perennially marked by celebration, fireworks and gratitude to the Almighty for the birth of a new land of liberty.

July 5th dawned as another muggy, oppressive summer day in Philadelphia. Imagine a non-air-conditioned room full if men who bathed weekly and wore layers of wool clothing! The Continental Congress had much to do beyond ratifying a Declaration. There was an army to feed and supply, a new Republic to govern and the real fear of losing everything if they failed.

Why is July 5th important? it is important because our Founders kept on working at the tasks at hand. Securing a new nation meant daily toil, not just high moments of public proclamation.

Why is July 5th important today? Today there are millions of Americans who are faithful to their families, work hard, serve the community, worship God and carry on the tasks that make this the greatest nation on earth. July 4th is great - fireworks and fun, beaches and barbecues - but July 5th may be more important, for it is the ordinary responsible activities of all our citizens that make us great!

Let's celebrate July 5th by being heroes to our kids and making history by our fidelity to the virtues that are the cornerstone of liberty.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Trifecta for Sanity

Yesterday, June 28, we witnessed a three-fold moment of sanity in the sociopolitical world. Such a "trifecta" is rare and we ought to take a moment to indulge in some good feelings before our battles begin again.

President Bush's immigration legislation was dealt another defeat. Good riddance to the cheap-jobs-for-Republicans-and-cheap-votes-for-Democrats agenda - at least for awhile.

The "Fairness Doctrine" - a thinly veiled attempt of the Left to control the radio waves because they can not compete with conservative talk - was soundly rejected by the House.

And finally, the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination, admitted that its policy statements concerning the Middle East were unfairly biased against Israel. A committee agreed that the Arabs share some of the blame for their problems and most of the violence is not the fault of the Israelis.

It is rare to hear see so much sanity in one day...let's enjoy it as we celebrate America's heritage and hope this week.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Welcome to America

This morning I had the honor of appearing on the KSFO AM 560 morning show, hosted by Leigh Rodgers and Melanie Morgan, with Officer Vic providing color, traffic and musical whimsy. Brian Sussman, who hosts his own show on KSFO from 6-8 PM nightly, was the guest host with Melanie and Vic. The topic was the current immigration crisis. A scheduled guest could not appear, so "Dr. History" spontaneously pinch-hit and provided historical perspective of the impact of immigration upon cultures throughout history.

America, by definition, is a land of immigrants. We have an uneven record toward welcoming certain groups at certain times, but overall, we have been, and remain, the first destination for those who want freedom and opportunity. Our sheer size, diversity of cultures, economic opportunities and the values that uphold our land draw people here by the millions.

In 1620 the Pilgrims landed, determined to practice their faith and live at peace with all - they did, for nearly 70 years.

Roger Williams established Rhode Island as a beacon of religious freedom.

In the 1650s, Maryland ("Mary-Land") was founded as a haven for English Catholics, with Lord Baltimore leading the exodus to freedom.

When our Founders wrote the Constitution, they expressly forbade any religious test for political office and forever enshrined the freedom of conscience and religion - the true "First Freedom" - in the first 16 words of the First Amendment.

Bigotry, racism and xenophobia are, alas, conditions of human societies everywhere and American history is no exception. Our Native American policies are a study in moral turpitude and self-deception. The War with Mexico was a pretence for conquest. In the 1850s there were anti-Catholic riots in Baltimore! The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is still being overcome. The anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese laws of the 19th and 20th centuries are a stain on our history. The isolationism of the 1920s to 1940s kept thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews and other victims of totalitarianism out of our great land.

The previous paragraph reminds me of my history classes in Berkeley and Santa Cruz: America the colonial oppressor...America the racist...America - you get the idea. There were times I felt persecuted for walking in the room - after all, I am a white male, married and middle-class, so I am part of the problem and should apologize for living.

But there are other narrative threads that must be woven into our historical tapestry. Our Revolution was NOT like the one that came later in France! President George Washington spoke at a synagogue - and welcomed people of all faiths or none to be part of the virtuous citizenry our our new land. The Irish who felt persecuted in the 1850s became part of the elite by the dawn of the 20th century. The Asian laborers who built our railroads are now watching their descendants enjoy the American Dream. The African-American and Hispanic-American middle classes are growing and Martin Luther King's efforts are paying rich dividends for many.

Welcome to America - the greatest ongoing experiment in freedom in history.

Welcome to America - we need many "Ellis Islands" to welcome legal immigrants who want to become citizens and uphold our principles and virtues.

Welcome to America - if you are a visitor, we need to know where you are and if your intentions are good.

Welcome to America - a lighthouse to a world that is learning English.

Welcome to America - a land that must not "submit" to any theocracy, especially one designed to destroy our freedoms. People of all faiths or none live with their deepest differences in this nation. Yes, we can persuade and ask people to covert, but coercion and oppression of the conscience have no place in America.

Welcome to America - flawed, but struggling forward; naive at times, but anxious to receive all who embrace liberty and liberty's foundations of faith and virtue.

Welcome to America - and land that does not need to follow in the self-destructive footsteps of Western Europe and wallow in a post-religious vacuum of bureaucracy.

Welcome to America - if you can handle the responsibility that comes with freedom.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Here We Go Again

For thirty years there have been negotiations between Israel and some of her neighbors concerning a "final" geopolitical settlement in the Middle East.

Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded - but we have no peace.

Israel has withdrawn from major portions of the "Occupied Territories" - but we have no peace.

Israel has offered unilateral concessions - only to be met with ridicule and rockets.

Hamas, Iran and Syria are arming for war against the only democracy in the region and most of the world accuses Israel as being the problem!

Here we go again. It is January 30, 1939 exhumed from the ashes. As Hitler prepares to unleash war on Europe, he blames the Jews for the coming conflagration. In his speech to the puppet Reichstag (Parliament), he declares that any bloodshed in the coming years would be the fault of the Jews and result in their "destruction."

Will we ever learn? Will we ever liberate ourselves from the bondage of Anti-Semitic mythology? Or do we need another war (which will be won by Israel) with thousands dead to remind us of the futility of hatred?

What are the keys to peace in the Middle East? There are two simple ones: Unequivocal recognition of Israel's right to exist within clear boundaries and an end to state-sponsored terrorism.

Until some Palestinian leaders cool their rhetoric and demonstrate real courage, we will live with a tinderbox that could spark far more than a regional war.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who Will Be in Control?

We are watching the implosion of our civilization one "reality" show at a time.

While neo-pagans try to regulate the environment to the detriment of average workers and Muslim extremists plan their denoument of Europe, Israel and the USA, we worry about Anna Nicole Smith and fools like Don Imus.

England is limiting references to the Holocaust so that Islamic leaders are not "offended." Now we change history to suit religious tastes?

Freedom for any nation rests upon virtue founded upon lasting moral principles. Personal responsibility for the general good is the basis for less governmental interference in our lives.

As the moral foundations of the West crumble, the void created by the dearth of ethical and spiritual vitality will be filled by elites ready to 'guide" the masses to their vision of the better world.

Right now there are two totalitarian rivals for the loyalty of the mindless: Radical Islam and Environmentalism. I am not speaking of most muslims nor am I against significant improvements in environmental policy for our better future. But the radicals in Islam and groups like Earth First! have clear ideas of what the world should look like and believe that those unwilling to go along need to be removed. The leaders of these movements know that it does not take a majority to overthrow governments, just a dedicated vanguard ready to employ any means to achieve their anarchic-apocalytic or oppressive-paternalistic ends.

If the West does not experience real moral and spiritual change, Islam will achieve in 2032 what it could not achieve in 732 - domination of much of Europe.

If America does not awaken morally and develop balanced social policies, intellectual elites will fill the void with controls over speech, thought, and economic freedom.

If all this sounds far-fetched, remember that the French Revolutionaries - without the buffer of strong religious pluralism - watched their dream cut off by the guillotine and Napoleon. Germany's bohemian excesses and spiritual vacuum were fertile soil for the Nazis - who never won a majority in any regular election!

The void of Vietnam allowed the Democratic Party to be hijacked by radicals in 1972 and it has been hard to find too many moderates in that Party since then, especially on family issues.

We have a choice - self-control through adherence to principles or control by elites consumed by their own arrogance and perverted utopianism. If radical Islam "wins", women are uneducated and clothers in burkhas. If Earth First! wins, only select folks may reproduce and a decline in population is welcome to heal Mother Earth.

We do have a choice - but will we get off our couches and away from our computers long enough to exercise our moral muscles again?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Thoughtful Path

As I observe debates on policies, strategies and values, I am struck by the absence of thoughtful voices. The blaring demagoguery of Rosie declaring that the illegal capture of British soldiers by Iran is a plot by the West to have an excuse to invade Iran is one example of buffoonery among many that permeate the public square. Iran has violated enough laws and treaties that some action is needed; however, that is for the next column!

When I see the hypocrisy of our President extolling our safety against terrorism while undermining our security through terrible budget and immigration policies, I am concerned with the incoherence and instability these policies bring to our nation.

The debate on the war in Iraq is healthy. Stifling dissent is not; neither is undermining the safety of our troops.

What is missing in all the arguments on Iraq is a larger strategic discussion of how to keep a non-territorial, ideologial enemy from destroying our freedoms through fear and violence.

The USA must not be a colonizing, occupying force. We must, with the help of others, confront terrorist dens with strength and refuse to listen to any leaders who will chant "death to the USA...death to Israel..."

Thoughtful people know that Israel is not a perfect nation; however, she is a democracy and is nothing like the regimes she must fight. The looting of Gaza is a prime example of the fact that Hamas and others want nothing less than Israel's destruction...and they will wage as long a war as necessary to achieve their end.

A thoughful approach includes economic, political and social policies that ensure Israel's survival and the creation of a Palestinian State committed to the principle of law. So far, Abbas' own followers are more concerned with rocket attacks against Israel than any real negotiations.

Moving to global warming, we see a similar absence of middle ground and "third way" thinking. Instead of allowing real debate, words like "consensus" get tossed around as an excuse for policies that may do little long-term good and bring immediate harm to our economy and political freedom.

Alternative fuels, excellent land-use policies, careful managing of resources - these all make moral and social sense without the fearmongering.

Religious freedom is also threatened by militant secularists who now want to prohibit religious speech outside the workplace amomg coworkers and edit preaching from pulpits. Fortunately, there are enough sane people in the USA and a remant who remember the real intent of the First Amendment to keep these efforts from gaining steam - but we must be vigilant. Like the Marxists of the 1920s to 1950s, we must beware of "freedom" becoming a codeword for conformity to anti-religious ideas.

McCarthyism is more alive on the Left than the Right these days. Woe to any African-Americans or Hispanics who dare espouse conservative views. Alberto Gonzales' troubles are blown way out of proportion. During the Clinton administration, many more attorneys were fired without a peep from the media. The hatred toward anything Bush does colors everything. The Left's responses to Tony Snow's cancer and Dick Cheney's health problems is one more example of a sick society.

Lest the Right assume some kind of superiority, there is much to be critical about here as well. The current Republican Presidential candidates are as uninspiring as oatmeal without fruit or sugar added. Add to this the failure of conservatives to curb spending, inspire trust and live lives that match their values, it leaves our culture with a gaping void. The thought of Newt Gingrich for President - given his moral and political track record - is depressing.

We need inspiration - thus we see the attraction to Barack Obama. But we need conviction and substance - and Obama will fade when his multiple personalties and image making wear thin. We want to find middle ground to help all Americans - so the Dems move right and the Repubs move left - and the result is not dymnamic progress, but a muddled public square of cynicism and sound-bites. When our news cycles are filled with Anna Nicole Smith, there is something perverted about our social appetities.

Thoughtful people want reasonable fiscal policies, the rule of law (and a long-term strategy) for immigration, careful and cohesive ideas to fight terrorism, and freedom to pursue principled happiness. Thoughtful people know that freedom relies upon debating our deepest differences with civility. I dislike the ideas and methods of Cindy Sheehan - but I will defend her right to be noisy! I will not defend college professors and students who shout down speakers whose views are different. Known supporters of terrorism are called "freedom fighters" on campuses while rock-solid conservative voices are "fascists." This is not a sign of progress.

Here is my challenge to all: Can we debate and work without personal vitriol? Can we lay aside personal power long enough to ensure a future for our children? Ad hominem attacks, name calling, loaded questions, assuming conclusions before asking questions - these all point to people who can not remember their freshman logic courses!

There are answers to the problems we face - but we must first face ourselves.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Where is Our Vision?

An ancient proverb declares, "Where there is no vision, the people waste away..."

Without a compelling picture of our preferred future as a nation, there is no social cohesion and calls for sacrifice make no sense.

What does a healthy 21st century America look like?

Leaving aside the "good old days" that never were and utopian sci-fi visions, we must find in our history the deepest values and images that can once again call forth private and public virtue in our citizens. We must learn to live with our deepest differences while we forge consensus on those "first principles" that will unite us.

So far, there is nothing in the current speeches of our Presidential candidates that move us past the cultural, ideological and political divisions that render us morally vacuous and weaken our ability to command world respect in the war on terror.

America can not be a colonizing/occupying power in hostile lands.
At the same time, thinking we can negotiate with terrorists is self-destructive.

We can not talk about equal opportunity without equal sacrifice. Education is not only about skills, it must promote responsibility.

A free market and just socieity are linked by morality in the heads and hearts of the citizens. To the Left I say, "Please read ALL of Adam Smith again." To the Right, I challenge, "Where is the compassionate use of your accumulated wealth?"

Caring for the environment is NOT a religion, but the moral and practical responsibility of all of us. Did you know that the apparently eco-friendly fluorescent bulbs are full of mercury and not recyclable? Alternative energy sources and fuels are great, but European insistence that the USA adhere to UN standards is utterly hypocritical since a large portion their energy in nuclear!
Lest the Right misread the previous paragraph, I challenge them to consider the sustainability of their current enterprises. Are you thinking of the generations to come or your current stock prices?

How do I see a bright future for America in the 21st century? Consider working with me to see a nation

  • With safe borders and opportunity for all who are here legally.
  • With budgets in the black and accountability for every dollar spent by representatives of the people.
  • With health care for all through private-public partnerships
  • With citizens committed to the virtues of humility, integrity and mutual respect, allowing for debate about all topics while respecting the democratic process.
  • With religious freedom where people of all faiths or none live harmoniously, but not enslaved to politically correct shibboleths or the intellectual totalitarianism of Right or Left.
  • With economic and environmental policies that stimulate entrepreneurial solutions, shared sacrifice and real scientific debates. No dissenters should be cut off from their freedom of expression. If a meterologist disagrees about global warming, he or she should not be exiled but challenged. Fear is not a sustainable foundation for progress.

This is just a start. I am very concerned about the neo-paganism in Hollywood. I am equally troubled by the vacuous "prosperity" preaching on TV. Let's roll up our sleeves, sharpen our pencils and leave this nation better for our children.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Forward in Iraq...Iran...Syria

My last posting was highly critical of the power brokers in Washington, D.C. Current military policies are not abating the violence; however, the Democrats have no strategy other than withdrawl and a UN presence. The lessons of the 1970s have not been learned by either side in this conflict.

Our momentary military strikes overseas are necessary actions in our war against terrorism. Our permanent occupying presence is detrimental. We must create new boundaries and strategies against enemies that not only threaten Israel and the West, but every current Islamic regime as well. Our enemies will be satisfied with nothing less than Shari'a Law in every land. There is no pluralism or tolerance in their world-view. So how do we proceed forward?

Our military needs to be intelligent, lethal and mobile against known terrorist locales. We should alert allies and adversaries just prior to non-covert raids designed to destroy terrorist bases of operation. Regimes that legitimize terror need to be on notice that their support opens their land not to invasion and occupation, but incursion and pinpoint destruction of forces arrayed against us. We should encourage democratic movements where they are found, but be very clear we are not colonizers.

There are other, more sinister forces at work in this war. Russia and other EU nations have vested interests in our instability and in the destruction of Israel. Russia's imperial aims have not changed and European hubris and antisemitism makes working together problematic. The world enjoys the humiliation of the USA.

Instead of general "surges", let's strike with overwhelming force against the hot spots of terror - regardless of borders. Then let's go home and let local leaders decide if they want to move toward a civil world or risk further attacks.

Friday, February 09, 2007

History Ahead of Time

I am a Judeo-Christian, pro-life, moderately conservative, thoughtful person. I diligently look for a dynamic "third way" on divisive issues. Global warming is happening, but the panic is accelerating beyond the science. Developing World debt needs resolving, but part of the resolution includes liberation from tyrants who confiscate the resources that are donated. Medical care should be available to everyone, but not centrally administrated by an overbloated federal system. Israel desrves secure borders and full recognition and the Palestinians deserve better leadership as they move toward statehood. These are just some of the thoughtful positions I try to articulate. I have suppported our current president due to his unswerving pro-life position, including stem-cell research, and his desire to protect us from terrorism.

Sadly, I must now go on record in full opposition to the current administrations in the White House and on Capitol Hill. I will continue to pray for them, respect the offices and hope for change; however, as a historian and scholarly observer, I now view the current leaders as destructive for the American Future.

There are three issues no one is willing to tackle seriously that undermine our future as a free nation. The first is immigration. The agendas of the global capitalists and one-world government advocates (with a North American Union as an interim step) are converging. Legal immigrants from anywhere in the world but Mexico face a tortuous gauntlet of red tape, legal fees and petty tyranny at the hands of corrupt government officials and lawyers. One exception to this is the full-tuition-paying foreign student! Meanwhile, we imprison border guards, call any enforcement racist and declare that a sane policy will hurt the economy. The loss of any sense of the rule of law and what citizenship means will do more to destroy our nation than endless reruns of "reality" shows. The current leaders on both sides of the aisle are too busy cozying up to powerful constituencies. The result may well be the loss of national sovereignty. President Bush - you are a threat to our future with this policy. Speaker Pelosi - if you care for our children, you will want them to value our heritage, ideals and laws.

The second issue is fiscal restraint. Neither party seems to understand Economics 101. Revenues have never been higher, yet we are told that it is not enough and that the "rich" (variously defined) do not pay enough. Meanwhile, the Republican Party sells its birthright for a mess of pragmatic, symbolic pottage. There is no surplus in Social Security and foreign nations hostile to our long-term well-being hold us captive in trade and T-bills. The entire tax system is designed to coddle the canny and soak the unwary. "Atlas may shrug" one day and spendthrift Americans may well become the servants of the rest of the world. Mr. President and Ms. Speaker - you fail us by not delivering a balanced budget and curtailing the pork.

There is a third issue that goes way beyond presidential or congressional control. Unless our citizens experience a moral awakening and understand that real freedom depends upon virtue and genuine virtue rests upon permanent principles, all the policy changes will be for nought. As long as Americans are content with the 21st century equivalent of "bread and circuses" there is no hope for a better future. As long as we "amuse ourselves to death" (Neal Postman), there will not be the courage to confront the challenges. Here aagin, the bully pulpits of politicians can be helpful. Where is the call for sacrifice as we confront terrorism? When will we learn that we can not have all the guns and butter we want? What is the strategic policy for our military once we leave Iraq? Conservatives love to say "smaller government" until their pet projects are involved! Liberals want to slash military spending - unless their local base is being shut dowm (thank you, Ron Dellums!).

The years 1968 to 2008 will go down in history as the era of erosion and subversion of all that is dear to Americans - unless there is a broad awakening among our populace. The Bush Administration will be villified as the great "bait and switch" school of political manipulation. A few pro-life tidbits for social conservatives can not make up for terrible fiscal, immigration, and military policies. The Democratic Party continues to be haunted by the 1968-1974 leftist takeover. They are equal partners in the destruction of the American Experiment.

I hope that this "history ahead of time" is proven wrong.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fantasy Land

The rhetoric of party politicians and world leaders in recent days causes me to wonder what planet these folks think they are on.

The State of Union Address by President Bush put me to sleep within minutes. Nothing new, nothing particularly hopeful.

The Democratic Response was even worse - let's roll out our alternative stats on the economy, critique the Iraq policy (not hard to do), but offer no real solutions in foreign or domestic affairs.

CNN and Fox News battle over Barak Obama's elemenatry education, as if there have been no intervening experiences in his life. It looks like CNN has it right. Obama is not a dangerous terrorist - I think he is another empty-suited politician, but that is for another column.

The EU thinks it can bring peace to the Middle East and help run a Palestinian State - but Abbas and Co. are still unwilling to give real guarantees to Israel. Meanwhile, an aging Jimmy Carter continues to mix shoe polish and toothpaste when speaking on world affairs. Carter is not a Holocaust denier, but he is anti-Israeli and in his dotage he is moving dangerously to the extreme on this issue. If only he could have been content building houses...

Global warming is a fact - but the amount of human contribution remains a legitimate subject for debate. Now we have Weather Channel celebs calling for the decertification of anyone who departs from the party line. The U.N. is about to publish a major report "with the most evidence yet" of human contributions to climate change. Why the hysteria? It is simple - money for research and the hope of globalists to coercively direct the USA's economy. By the way, serious ecological issues in Europe, Russia, China and India go almost unreported. There is a dirty little fact about the EU - they already have all the nuclear power they need!

Two Border Patrol officers are in prison for shooting a drug dealer, who, even after being given immunity, kept on smuggling drugs into the USA. Democrats shout "justice" (cheap votes eventually) and Republicans "opportunity" (cheap non-union labor) - but no one has a plan to secure our borders. WalMart wants a port in Kansas and the Left is still singing "Imagine."

After listening to all the rhetoric, I conclude that most of our leaders are marooned on Fantasy Island. We have horrible deficits and trade imbalances, illegal immigration out of control, war-on-terror strategies in shambles and find the headlines dominated by the content of a movie no distributor will purchase.

The Republicans moved to Fantasy Island in the 1980s as they cut taxes (a good thing) but have not curtailed the growth of spending. The Democrats moved to the Island in the late 90s when Clinton claimed that the "surplus" (it does not exist) in Social Security could eliminate the deficit and pay down the national debt.

The UN is the caretaker of this Island. The UN honors Palestinian martrys and shows maps without an Israeli state, all the while claiming to be an honest broker. The billions embezelled by UN officials in the oil-for-food scandal under Saddam Hussein remain in the Caymans.

The EU, especially France, in in charge of the blueprints for the Island's buildings. French politicians suffer collectively from Multiple Personality Disorder (Yes, my therapist friends, I know that MPD is now called Associateve Disorder - AD) - they rule a state run by elite technocrats, yet their international language is leftist and always anti-American. They claim to be cultural leaders, yet they are about to be conquered by foreign Muslims who refuse to assimilate.

Finally, our Fantasy Island needs a host. Who better for this than Hugo Chavez? His Marxist, nationalist and racialist language is straight from Che and Fidel's playbooks of the 1960s, backed by street mobs and oil money.

Ricardo Montalban, where are you in our hour of need?

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Speaking Products for
Dr. Charlie Self
“Messenger to the Thoughtful” TM

Calling all to “Think Deeply and Act Decisively” TM

Keynotes for All Audiences
“The One-Hour Focus: Get Clear Now”
Featuring the Faithful Life Quadrant
Distill the Past and Determine a New Future
Humility is the Key to Honor
Healthy Self-Esteem: Real Affirmation
Happy Relationships: Free to Love
Hopeful Living: The Life You Were Designed For
Direct, immediate, personal benefits:
The One-Minute Refocus: start and restart your day well!
Place the Past in Perspective
Get free of self-destructive habits and relationships
Start Your Life-Plan
The Lasting Source of Joy

“The Global Update: Your 21st Century Life”
Seven trends that are transforming our world and what they mean to you
Seven hopeful signs and how to make a difference in your world
Seven virtues necessary to navigate the rapids
Direct, immediate, personal benefits:
Learn to distinguish good information from bad – crucial in this Internet Age
The right and wrong kind of “global citizenship”
Raising a healthy family under stress
Living Your Plan – to the benefit of others

“All We Need for Divine Fulfillment”
Seven Resources for Living the Life God Designed for You
Not the Life You Want – Something Even Better!
There is an Entire Team on Your Side!
The Real “Secret” to Fulfillment

“Cool Heads and Warm Hearts: Living a Passionate and Principled Life”
Let’s Unlearn Some Lies! Exposing False Thinking:
Ideal vs. Real
Head vs. heart
Theory vs. Practice
Spiritual vs. Material
Business vs. Charity
Success vs. Significance
Seven Keys to Clear Thinking: Sorting through the Mess
The Imagination Age – 21st Century People and Products
The Product is the Story
True Wealth – Creativity

“Back to the Future: History and Hope” (this is an entire series and can be adapted to the audiences)
The Premise for this Series: Current challenges must be met with BOTH distilled wisdom from history and discovery of future possibilities!
Some examples:
“Balanced Living: Insights from the Benedictines”
Social and Spiritual Transformation: the Amazing Grace of Wilberforce
Beyond War: Peacemakers Change History
The Pilgrims Still Speak: Plymouth Plantation and 21st Century America

“Christianity and Islam: Coexistence and Conflict”
Three types of Muslims
The Real Crisis in the West: The Moral and Spiritual Vacuum
The West’s Self-Destruction: Inevitable without Awakening
Three Keys for Living with Our Deepest Differences
Conflict: Two Views of the Future
Coexistence: First Principle

“An Evening with Dr. History”: An Intimate Dialogue on History and Hope
Maximum of 20 People
120 minutes of food, conversation, with a special presentation and time for Q & A
Topics chosen in collaboration with Dr. Charlie and the Hosts

Coming Soon: “Tears in God’s Bottle – Experiencing the Holocaust and the Passion” – a multimedia presentation featuring Dr. Charlie Self’s poetic narrative of a Jewish survivor and the poignant charcoal images of Kathleen Self. This is an unforgettable experience of history and hope, image and word that will leave you determined to build bridges of compassion and understanding.


Coaching and Master Planning Products
Offered by

Dr. Charlie Self
Phone: (408) 307-1339

Please note: All facets of my Coaching and Master Planning assistance are tailored to the unique needs of the individual or organization. Listed below is a summary of the types of experiences available. Please call or email to schedule an initial complimentary consultation.

Coaching Services: The focus here is one personal and vocational excellence, with the aim of creating personal and family plans that are ambitious and doable.

Coaching services consist of
· Bi-weekly or Monthly Consults – 90 minutes
· Half-day Intensives
· Free phone or email access and dialogue

Master Planning:

The Executive Briefing: 90 minutes of high-level clarity

The Envisioning Event: a three-hour empowering event in which Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values and Strategic Goals are Clarified, Discovered and/or Refined

The Advance: 1-2 days with core leadership, further advancing the Mission and establishing The Scorecard of Success for the organization

I look forward to serving you!



The Power of Faithful Focus
A Practical Christian Guide to Spiritual and Personal Abundance
Click Here to purchase

Our Sponsorship's

Our Sponsorship's Coming Soon

Our Proverbs

Our Proverbs
"Faith, Focus and Follow-Thorugh"Our audience is all thoughtful peopleWe aim for clarity, not clich├ęsOur environments – speaking, writing, web, radio, TV – are “Insult-Free Zones”We believe in going “back to the future” for wisdom; that is, wise choices are only made when history is united with hope.

Meet Dr. Charlie Self

Meet Dr. Charlie Self
Charlie is a minister, professor, author and speaker. He is a “Messenger to the Thoughtful” committed to empowering all people to fulfill their destiny. Charlie’s presentations call us to “Think Deeply and Act Decisively.” Charlie serves individuals and organizations with Coaching, Strategic Planning and Keynote Speaking. He is presently the Associate Professor of Church History for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He is a speaker with MVP Seminars in Berkeley, CA.

Charlie and Kathleen, (a professional artist, see, are celebrating 30 years of marriage and have three adult children. Kathy has completed several commissions and her work is in collections around the world. She has the unique calling to “bring beauty to a broken world.”

Charlie has been a minister since 1979. He has served local communities as a pastor and missionary in Belgium, Northern California, Washington, DC and Oregon. Charlie is also a coach and consultant to organizations, helping with Vision and Master Planning. He is an associate of The Institute for Innovation, Integration and Impact. ( and

Charlie has four earned degrees: BA, MA in History; an MA in Theology; a Ph.D. in History. The History degrees were earned at University of California Santa Cruz; Theological studies were completed at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He appears frequently as “Dr. History” on the Brian Sussman Show on KSFO Hot Talk 560 AM in the San Francisco area (see

Charlie has been involved in professional post-secondary education since 1981. He has been a professor of Bible, Theology, History and Philosophy at Bethany University, Continental Theological Seminary (Brussels, Belgium), George Fox University, Western Seminary, Northern California Bible College, and The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

Charlie is the author of two published works, The Divine Dance and more recently, The Power of Faithful Focus (co-authored with Les Hewitt). Both are available on Amazon.

Charlie is available to speak and is booking 2011 dates now. Contact him by email at or by phone at 408-307-1339.

Donate to Charlie and Kathy’s efforts! Send tax-deductible contributions to: Vine Associates 3777 Fujiyama Way Redding, CA. 96001. Include a separate note with Charlie’s name.

Our Logo

We chose a simple matrix of color to emphasize the creativity, diversity and unity of a healthy life.The four areas of the matrix embrace and integrate our spiritual, psychological, relational and vocational lives.

Dr. Charlie Self is the creator of the “Faith Life Quadrant© ” ™, a unique system of personal development that is featured in the forthcoming book, The Power of Faithful Focus, which Charlie is co-authoring with world-famous author and coach Les Hewitt (Chicken Soup for the Soul; The Power of Focus)

This same Quadrant© is focused on love for God, Self, Others and Our Purpose. Watch the website for updates to this ever-growing understanding of wholeness!

Our Partners

Kathy's website,

The Institute for Innovation, Integration and Impact -

Attaine -

The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary -

The Power of FocusWe're experts at teaching people how to focus and follow through. We've been doing it for 22 years. The Power of Focus Inc. (formerly known as Achievers Canada ) first opened for business in 1983. The company was founded by entrepreneur and international bestselling author of The Power of Focus book series, Les Hewitt.
The Art of Kathleen SelfWindows of color and light“Every one is an original”Original charcoal, oil, pastel and watercolorsThe Institute for Innovation, Integration and Impact (dba, The Institute),Brett and Lyn Johnson consultation and business leadershipAttaine Performance CorporationDr. David Seregow“Inventing the Future and Developing the Power to Get There”Strategic Consulting ServicesMessenger FellowshipSteven L. Fry“A Safe Place for Spiritual Leaders”A network for spiritual leaders to convene and co-mission togetherSteven Fry Ministries“Awakening the Nations…Restoring the Church”Amazing worship and teaching resourcesHeart Sound ™ MusicKen Johnston to lift the soul a new place for creative communityBethel Church of San JoseLoving God and Loving People Assemblies of God Theological Seminary Radio KSFO 560 The Bay Area’s Talk Leader Communications Inc cutting-edge resources for growth, includingthe forthcoming (2004) release, The Power of Faithful Focus by Dr. Charlie Self and Les Hewitt, co-author of the Chicken Soup series and the Power of Focus, founder of Achievers Coaching www.achievers.comScott Morris, founder of iThinkK resources for faith and leadership


Support Dr. Charlie as he brings his message of thoughtful faith and values to audiences across the nation and around the world.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Make checks payable to Vine Associates; include a separate note designating Dr. Charlie Self as the recipient

Please send donations to

572 Mountain View Way
Emerald Hills, CA. 94062

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What CAN We Control?

The coming weeks will feature numerous predictions of the future - especially for 2007. We will be deluged and disgusted or inspired and informed as we sift through all the pundits' prognostications.

As we face this onslaught of information, there is the danger of slipping into one of two equally self-defeating mentalities. The first is resignation and retreat. "The world is going to do what it is going to do, so I'll find my bunker-oasis-escape pod and hope for the best." The second mode is hyper-activism: "If we do not face these issues head-on right now, Armaggedon will arrive by St. Patrick's Day." How do we navigate between the Scylla of fatalism and the Charybdis of frenetic, unfocused activity?

Often we think we have no control over "big" things and only limited control over our own daily lives. As people of faith and integrity, however, we have more opportunities to impact the world than we may at first realize!

We can not control the weather - but our personal and community habits can change local ecosystems and perhaps give our children a better world! After all, we are swimming in lakes and rivers that were cesspools in the 1950s and 1960s.

We can not control our politicians - but we elected them and we can unelect them. We can communicate clearly on issues that matter. Most of all, we can take repsonsibility for our neighborhoods and cities and help create a climate free from fear.

We can not control the decisions of enemies bent on our destruction. But we can pray for peace, work for solutions, speak the truth in love and refuse to give in to despair.

We do not pull the world's economic strings - neither do the politicians in Washington. (They only think they do!) But we can give, save, spend wisely, and work with others to allieviate suffering and create alternative (legal) economies high on compassion, sacrifice and joy.

We do not (and should not) control the thoughts and actions of others. (Here I am not referring to appropriate parenting or project management.) We can however, speak persuasively, and by our actions compel others to consider their ways and perhaps join us in transforming our world.

In the end, we must learn the twin skills of self-discipline and releasing others from untoward expectations.

For 2007 - what can we expect? And what should we do? Consider the following:

We can expect in 2007:

More international tension - are our homes places of peace?

More economic changes - are we giving and managing well?

More crazy, immoral actions from celebrities - are we keeping our thoughts and actions (and computer screens) clean?

More egocentric politicians spinning the truth - are we telling ourselves the truth about the issues that concern us?

More information about just about everything - are we trying to be wise and not just "smart"?

Next week we will add detail to this list as we look at Iran, Israel and the USA at this moment in history. For now, let's be empowered and know that what we do DOES make a big difference!