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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Charleston, and Barack Obama’s America

I’m weary this morning. Weary and angry and sad.
It’s been three days since those horrifying events in Charleston. I still can’t comprehend someone walking into a church, spending an hour with the members, and then killing them. I’m grieving because these people were my fellow Americans, and they were my brothers and sisters in Christ.
But I can’t even grieve properly anymore. I can’t focus and reflect and pray and feel the sorrow that comes with something like this. I can’t, because I was immediately put on the defensive. Our President, the man tasked with leading all of us and guiding all of us, attacked most of us.
In the very first words he spoke after this tragedy, he drew blood from the majority. He attacked us…the very people he claims to lead. He attacked our core and our standing in the world. He attacked my grieving.
I couldn’t even deal with the sorrow and hurt I was feeling, because this man –and his minions who took up the rally cry immediately thereafter- prevented me from doing so. They had me instantly on the defensive.
Before I could deal with how Charleston affected me, I had to defend myself. I had to defend my First and Second Amendment rights. I had to defend my Faith. I had to defend my conservative political views. I had to defend my character against charges that I am a racist and a bigot and full of hate. I had to do this because I didn’t immediately call for the removal of the second amendment and the confiscation of guns from the citizenry. I had to do this because I feel that if someone had been present with the capability to shoot back, Dylann Roof likely would not have killed those nine people in that beautiful Charleston Church. Doubtless he would have killed the first one. Maybe he would kill another in the gun battle. Maybe some of those who were killed would have instead been wounded. But they would have been alive. Alive is always better. That’s how I feel. That’s what the evidence supports. In every circumstance, cities and states with open carry laws, and with reasonable concealed carry laws, have far lower incidences of gun violence. One point is plain and indisputable: Dylan Roof committed this atrocity in a church because he knew there would be no one there who could shoot back. South Carolina law prohibits the possession of a gun inside a church. In more practical terms, South Carolina law identifies churches as targets for crazed killers. This is why he didn’t open fire in a police station. To debate this point is myopic.
I had to defend myself against charges of being a racist, because I maintained that, while Dylann Roof is clearly a racist and verbalized that as the reason for his actions, this murder is not indicative of the state of race relations in this country.  This man does not represent how white America feels about Black America. Period. But there are people who want to make that the narrative…who need to make that the narrative because it keeps us divided. One of those people happens to be the president.
So Thursday morning, while I was driving from Virginia to Delaware to visit family for a few days, the president made his statement. Within 30 seconds he was warning that he blames guns. He attacked the Second amendment as the real killer. For good measure, he threw the entire country under the bus on the world stage. He made the statement that “These things don’t happen with the same frequency in other civilized countries…” The unmistakable implication is that America is a savage nation overrun with gun-toting nutcases and the rest of the world gets it right where we get it wrong…again.
I’m not surprised by this from Obama anymore. But I’ll never get used to it. I’ll never get used to hearing our president attacking the country and the people that he claims to lead. I’ll never get used to him consistently berating our nation openly. I’ll never get used to the outright disdain he holds for this country. He never even waited for the nation to grieve. He never tried to comfort or console. He went straight for the guns again. And he did it by stating that we are less of a nation because we have incidents like this and other countries don’t. He backed his play with a lie. The facts are that we don’t have more incidents like this than other “civilized” countries. On average, when scaled to the size of America’s population, gun violence is about the same in other nations, even when gun controls are tighter.
I could write about that, but I don’t want to. Not today. The gun control battle will wage regardless of this event.
I want to talk about the division.
We have never been more divided as a nation than we have been since this man took office in 2009. We’ve never been more closeted and segmented and prone to stay in clusters of only those we know and trust and who hold similar ideals. We’ve never been wearier of fighting with each other over things that never caused such battles before.
We’ve never been less of a community.
Since Barack Obama came to office, we have been divided along racial lines, religious lines, political lines, lifestyle lines, income lines, gender lines, geographic lines, parenting-skill lines, and patriotism lines. Those who disagree with him are labeled haters, bigots, ignorant, racist, crazy, unwilling to compromise, unwilling to listen. When you spend half your time defending against lies…you get tired.
By early Thursday morning, before I had even begun to digest what had happened the night before, this man and his followers had already attacked my right to own a gun. Then they attacked my defense of that right. Then they attacked me for defending that right, saying that my defending that right only shows that I am a hate filled nut job who thinks we should all be shooting at each other. Then they attacked my faith, because I said that if someone in the church had a gun, maybe this thing is far less than it became. They attacked me because they said “Nobody should have to carry a gun to church out of fear.” Which is a good point, except it denies reality. A gun in church lessens the fear. At least the part where you find yourself helpless when the madman pulls out a gun and starts shooting. They questioned what kind of Christian I am who thinks that way.
They attacked me for disagreeing with this president. I’m just a racist, they claimed. If George Bush had said what he said, I’d agree with him. First of all, no I wouldn’t. I hold fast to my Second amendment rights, regardless of who is in office. Secondly…George Bush wouldn’t have said it. Bush, Reagan. Clinton, all the Presidents who have come before, showed the dignity of the office by never politicizing a tragedy during those early days of grief. They knew that the role of President sometimes requires decorum enough to hold their tongue and lead the nation in calm mourning, knowing the time would come to deal with the political side of the event. But not this president.
This man sees every event as a chance to advance his cause. Those lives, those precious beautiful, faith-filled, godly lives taken in that church in Charleston last Wednesday, only mattered to him insomuch as they gave him another opportunity to advance his cause, and to belittle this country on the world stage.
The attackers moved from the guns to the flag. There is a Confederate flag flying at the state capitol in South Carolina. It’s been the center of many a debate. For many, it’s a rock of offense. Personally I have never understood the reverence paid to that flag. But I defend the right of people to fly it. The attempt to connect the flag to the shooting is an outrage. Two inanimate objects a flag and a gun, got together and colluded to kill nine people in a church. That, ultimately, is the theory they have put forth. And if I don’t buy it, if I hold to the belief that Dylann Roof is simply a very evil man with a dark heart and who is obviously not sane…I am a hater, a bigot, a right-wing nut-job, an ultra-conservative who wants gunfights in the streets, and especially…a racist.
I’m none of those things. I’m a conservative but not far right. I’m a patriot who values this country far more than anyone’s ideology. I’m a dad who wants his daughter to be safe when she goes to church or school or the mall. I’m a realist who knows…who knows, that evil exists in this world and that rather than trust evil, insane people to obey gun laws and drug laws and driving laws, (because they never do) I need to proactively protect myself and my family.
I’m a patriot. I love this country like it was my own family. A piece of my American family is broken and hurting in Charleston, South Carolina right now and I have only just begun to be able to process my grief. Because my president wouldn’t let me for the first few days. I was too busy defending myself, between my own tears, against claims that somehow I wanted this tragedy.
That’s really what they are saying. That any of us who don’t agree with the solution, endorses the problem.
Shame on you Barack Obama. Shame on you for dividing us once again in the face of such a tragedy. Shame on you for fostering such an attitude in this country that people like me can’t even share in the grief of our fellow Americans and brothers and sisters in Christ, because you seized the event for your own purposes and your minions ran with the ball from there.
Grief and anger lie side-by-side to begin with. A president should not be taking advantage of that to divide a nation further, and move his agenda forward.
Charleston, South Carolina…the tears of millions are falling all around this country for the horror you suffered. We’re not bigots, not racist, not gun-crazies, not haters, not ultra anything. We’re Americans.  You are our family. The only thing that should matter right now is the grief we feel and the coming together this should engender.
Instead, we’re being divided by the very people who claim to be uniters. Underneath the rhetoric being tossed around like grenades…there beats a broken heart in this country.

God bless us. God help us. God save us.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Hey gang. I am condensing my blogs to my personal website.
My web page is
Craig's Page

You can also find it at and

I will leave this up and occasionally post blog articles here, but the majority of my writing will be on the main page from now on.

Thanks gang!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Great new blog I highly recommend...

So I've been here in Virginia for nine months now. A while back I met this guy...and he is hysterical. Hysterical in that he is from my neck of the woods, and he reminds me of my own Italian family. He has a crazy story going on right now with his nosy neighbor across the street. Give Joe a read. It's great stuff.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

JoePa's 409

Last week, the news broke that the NCAA would lift most of the sanctions on Penn State, brought about by the Sandusky issue.
I have long been a Joe Paterno fan. I quoted him a few times in my first book, ("Harry Kalas Saved My Life") and remain an unabashed PSU fan because of his legacy.
My heart ached when the story broke. I defended Joe to the hilt, often receiving terrible ridicule because of my vocal support -for what it was worth- of Coach Paterno. Then the Freeh report was released and I took the bait like so many folks did. Through doctored emails, misquotes, and disinformation, I was swayed to the "Joe did wrong" side. I didn't think he'd done much wrong, mind you, but I thought he had done something. Most of what I saw as Joe's wrongdoing was based on one little comment. In the report, it was mentioned that Joe did, in fact, follow up and ask about the Sandusky matter soon after the initial incident in 1999. (As it turns out, this was misrepresented) Contrasting that to his testimony 12 years later, before the Grand Jury, where he said he did not ask about it again, caused me to believe Joe lied. Two words I could never imagine connecting in one sentence.
It broke my heart to admit to what I believed to be fact at the time. I even understood the vacating of the wins. A friend made the case that covering up the crimes gave Joe a recruiting advantage. To be honest, after months of ferociously defending JoePa to folks on social media and call-in sports shows in Nashville, where I was living at the time, I was just tired of it and heartbroken that my hero had done wrong.
I didn't want to believe he had done wrong, and I admitted it through clenched teeth. But honestly, somewhere in the depths of my heart, I was hoping that facts would emerge one day that exonerated Joe. Because I always believed him to be a good and decent man. I don't bestow the term "Hero" on many people and Joe had been a Hero of mine for most of my life.
During the three years since his death and the subsequent release of the Freeh report, his family defended Joe's honor, quietly, carefully and with great dignity. They did not whine. They did not make light of the victim's plight in the least. They kept alive Joe's great legacy of charitable works on PSU's campus and they gently fought back against what turns out to be a vile, despicable, purposeful misrepresentation of facts, and even a manufacture of false evidence out of whole cloth.
They didn't rant and rage, even thought, in hindsight, they could have. They had the faith and the foresight to simply stand on Joe's character and legacy and believe that right would triumph in the end.
It did.
Joe's restoration was evidence of the over reach and malicious hypocrisy of the NCAA, the horrible scapegoating by the BOT of Penn State, and the seeming glee within the media to indict Joe, simply because all of his life he has been a good man. This may sound outrageous but I watched as very quickly the story moved from the monstrous evil of Jerry Sandusky, to the portrayal of Joe Paterno as the real culprit. It was a travesty. The handringing of those who have waited half a lifetime just to sink their teeth into the flesh of a man they disliked solely because he was a good man.
It's not a stretch. Look at our society these days. Good is seen as evil and evil is celebrated. Character is seen as a weakness, and the man who claws his way to the top by treachery and deceit is held up as a model while a man of integrity and faith and goodness is smiled at as a naive fool. People wanted the accusations against Joe Paterno to be true, simply because they didn't want a good man around to remind them of how high the bar was.
As Joe's family slowly, methodically, carefully fought back, I felt a sense of relief. I saw that goodness still had some value. I saw that the depth of the man's integrity stood up to the battering of those with an agenda at odds with that goodness and, though dented and scraped, the goodness prevailed.
I don't think "Now Joe can rest in peace." I think that because of the life he led, he was in peace from the moment he breathed his last. The truth we can have some peace. Being good, and doing good still matters. And if you do good and be good long enough, false accusations won't stick.
I am so happy that Joe's wins were restored. Not because of the wins themselves...they are football games, and we are talking about much more. But I'm glad because I am raising a 16 year old daughter in a world devoid of real, good, decent people. A world sadly lacking in heroes. One of mine was given his dignity back and I, for one, am happy about it.
God's speed Coach. Thank you for the example you left us. Thank you for being good.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thoughts on Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch Died Yesterday…
     Lost amidst the insanity of the world in which we live, was the homegoing of this dear Saint. Andrae Crouch’s music was intertwined in my young life as a believer. I became a Christian at age 9. I had already developed a deep love for music of all kinds and music had to be very good in order for me to listen to it. In the early years of my Faith, since I was just a kid, I listened to whatever they listened to at my church, or whatever my mother or grandmother listened to. Mainly, The Bill Gaither Trio and an ensemble group from the church I attended that had a lot of talent but never sang beyond the four walls of our sanctuary.
     When I hit my teenage years I rediscovered –as most teenagers do- music as my own language. Of course, we were what was known as “Fundamental Baptist” which means (among many other things) that you can’t do anything the way “The World” did it. We didn’t go to movies, we didn’t dance, the only acceptable alcohol was rubbing alcohol, and our music had better not sound like their music.
     Movies were hard enough to give up. Disney was “Real Disney” then and they weren’t making softcore kiddie porn like they are now. I had fallen in love with talk radio at an early age so I didn’t care about not listening to Top 40. But my records…man I had to have my records. We had vinyl then. Vinyl or 8 tracks. Cassettes came around in the mid to late 70’s and we had those too, but mostly the medium of choice was vinyl. I only owned Christian music, due to the strict adherence to the strict rules of my church. But it was a great time to be a young person who loved music and wanted to hear it sung about Jesus.
     We had The Imperials, Larry Norman, Dallas Holm, and a few lesser lights. I loved those performers. I saw the Imperials a handful of times when they came to town. But for me, in my teenage years, there were two artists who didn’t just write and perform…they sang mini sermons that changed your entire outlook in 3 minutes.
Keith Green and Andrae Crouch.
     We lost Keith Green in 1982 in a plane crash. We lost Andrae Crouch yesterday.
Andrae was brilliant. He wrote with passion for souls. He wrote with the altar in mind. He wrote to the lost. He wrote 3 minute sermons that literally could encapsulate the entire gospel up to and including an invitation to accept it, and then he set them to the most beautiful music on earth. Andrae had the ear of his generation and mine, and he did everything he could to make sure we listened when he sang about Jesus. He said it simply, but beautifully. Listen to the passion and irresistible music of this classic:  Jesus is the Answer
     This was as plain and plaintive a presentation of your need for Jesus and His unquestioned ability to satisfy that need as anyone has ever written, ever. You can’t miss Who or what he is talking about here. My despise for modern CCM is well known on this blog and listening to this song again as I write, it’s no wonder. We have some talented folks out there today who simply refuse to be this direct, this blunt, this passionate about the GOSPEL and not about creating an atmosphere. People went to an Andrae Crouch concert and they heard the Gospel, and they got SAVED. They didn’t have a “relationship” or an “encounter.” They met Jesus face to face, head the longing of their hearts, set to music, and met their SAVIOR.
     These days you are hard pressed to hear Jesus’ name even mentioned in a concert from one of these “praise and worship” bands.
     He wrote to the Church and called her to repentance. Like this one Take Me Back .
As believers we have all been here. Yet these days a song written about repenting and returning would be rejected.
     Andrae bridged cultural divides at a time when they loomed large. In the pasty white world of Fundamental Baptist culture, he was a black man who gave them absolutely nothing to point their finger at and say “Ah- HA!” I worked at a “Gino’s” restaurant in High School and one of my co –workers was a black girl, the same age as me, named Anita Shazier. She was a huge Andrae fan and had a wonderful voice. After closing at night, she would get on the microphone at the cashiers counter and sing his songs over the intercom. She found out I was a Christian and a big fan of Crouch and we became good friends.
      I would lie awake long into the night many, many times in my teen years, listening to his records over and over, and letting his words become part of my personal theology, and the guardrails on the road I was walking. Andrae Crouch fueled my passion for the lost with songs like this one: Tell Them
My heart’s desire was ministry back then, and listening to Andrae Crouch singing songs like this…you simply could not wander from that goal. Andrae impacted me. He impacted me the way a comet impacts a planet when they collide. He smashed into my soul and left a huge mark.
     Several years ago, when his dad died, he laid down his public music ministry and took over the pastorate along with his sister Sandra. He hadn’t offered much new music in a long while but by then, his songs had become such beloved staples that they found their way into the hymnals of even that stoic Fundamental Baptist Church I grew up in. So we never really lost Andrae.
     I hope his death rekindles interest in his work. I hope the current generation of “Christian artists” listen to him and realize how very wrong they have it. We don’t need to make the message more “relevant.” The message is always relevant. Sing the truth! Sing about JESUS the SAVIOR, not Jesus your surfing buddy. Call saints back to repentance. Write your songs as if the message you are about to sing is the only thing standing between the listener and hell. You aren’t in this to be popular. This is ministry. Most times that isn’t popular. But if you’re talented, and you do it God’s way…you’ll be famous where it matters most.

     God’s speed Andrae. There is great comfort in knowing that we will meet again…Soon and Very Soon. It won’t be Long. It Won't Be Long