In the Eye of the Beholder

valentine

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As we end the month of February, I was looking back at Valentine’s Day thinking about the different ways we show our feelings for our “Valentine”.

  • From flowers and candy to special meals
  • From stolen glances to poetry
  • From running 5Ks to icy dips in the water.

One event in New York featured literary speed dating at a bookstore.  To each his own…

What makes one thing attractive to one person, but completely different to others?
Some like blond hair with blue eyes, others dark hair with brown eyes.

Skinny as a rail or pleasantly plump? Tall, dark and handsome or sensitive and quiet?

We have mindsets in our lives about things like attraction. These mindsets are shaped by our upbringing, our heritage, and our culture.

Were you feeding cows or taking violin lessons after school? Were you playing baseball or lacrosse?

These influences as we grow help shape our preferences. Our minds becomes “set”.

mri brain scan

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There is brain chemistry involved.

  • Oxytocin may be involved with attraction and bonding.
  • Serotonin affects our moods and emotion.
  • Dopamine influences reward and pleasure.

But our experiences growing up have a major role in shaping our mindsets utilizing these chemicals in the brain.

Once our minds are set can we change them?

I would say yes. We have to look at the world from another perspective. Walk a mile in their shoes…so to speak. Then we have to ponder the other perspective. Is it worth changing my mindset?

If we hold to a biblical worldview, then there are a lot of “mindsets” that need to be adjusted. Many of our natural tendencies need to be regulated.

Our perspectives need to align with biblical principles.  Jesus brought a new way of thinking about Heaven and worship and earthly relationships. He spoke to religious people who held to one mindset, but needed to expand and change their mind.

Learn Relearn

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The bible says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
We must exercise our brains. Meditate on the new settings. Set your minds on things above… Dwell on the important things. Whatever is pure, lovely …

Changing a mindset is difficult. We must step out of our comfort zones, boundaries put there by our mindsets.

We may acquire a new taste for food or music by trying new ideas. We might discover a new level of attraction to those around us. Maybe a deeper attraction to our spouse.

We might develop a closer fellowship with God. At the very least by adjusting our mindsets, we would discover beauty in unexpected areas of our lives.

dsb

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

On Sunday mornings at my church, I’m currently teaching a class called “The Story of the Church” where we look each week at what our brothers and sisters in Christ have been doing since the close of the New Testament.

We’ve seen some good days and some not so good days and we’ve definitely seen a whole host of leaders march across the stage of Christian history in the process.

Last week, we took a look at the Crusades. While I won’t go into all the (bloody) details, I will mention just a few of the disasters left in the wake of the Crusades:

  • The massacre of Jews in the Rhineland
  • The wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children as the Christians entered Jerusalem
  • Intensification of the split between the Eastern and Western church

And it all started with a sermon.

Well, perhaps that is a bit of an understatement.  The history leading up to the Crusades is nearly as messy as the Crusades themselves.  But Pope Urban II’s sermon seems to have been a tipping point.

Christianity Today reports his words as follows: “A horrible tale has gone forth. An accursed race utterly alienated from God … has invaded the lands of the Christians and depopulated them by the sword, plundering, and fire.” In his “altar call” he plead, “Tear that land from the wicked race and subject it to yourselves.”

And his listeners set out to do just that…for several hundred years.

Was that what Pope Urban II had intended? I suppose we cannot read his mind from our viewpoint and I’m not even sure that with hindsight we can see with 20/20 vision in this case.

But I think as leaders, Pope Urban II’s story leaves us with a heavy burden.  We must be careful what we ask our followers to do. It can be easy to underestimate the influence of mere words when our title, position, actions, or character have granted us the trust of followers, listeners, or employees.

We have the power to shape the culture of our organizations, businesses, and teams.  Research from Edgar Schein says that a leader has several (embedding and structural) mechanisms for shaping culture among those mechanisms:
•    Attention
•    Reaction to crises
•    Role modeling
•    Criteria for allocating rewards
•    Criteria for selection & dismissal
•    Stories, statements, and rituals

Our stories and statements help to shape the culture where we serve. And as leaders, we must carefully consider all of the implications of an action we ask our followers to take. We carry a heavy responsibility as we call people to action.

As Schein has pointed out, sometimes we don’t even need words to call people to action.  The ideas that gain our attention or our rewards, the things we measure and evaluate, the things we model for others.  All of these actions send a signal that these are the things we want people to do. We are calling people to action. Even if we never open our mouths.

And the results can be long-lasting.

So be careful what you wish for.

The Impact of Immorality… Shhh!

On Sunday, February 16, 2014, Mitt Romney was interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press. Asked by David Gregory if he thought same-sex marriages were going to have a negative impact on society (given that so many states are starting to allow gay marriage), Romney quipped,

“Oh I think it’s going to take a long, long time to determine whether having gay marriage will make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there’s a mom and a dad. That’s not gonna happen overnight. It’s something which happens over generations…”

Wrong answer, Mitt.

Now, what am I going to tell my students, many of whose parents voted for you in the last presidential election because they believed you have conservative values? To his credit, Romney did persist in saying he thinks it is best for children to be raised with a father and mother.

But to the question of IMPACT…

  1. The impact of not recognizing the spread of sin in American culture
  2. The impact of not being willing to disabuse sinful behavior
  3. The impact of “letting bygones be bygones”

What does God think about the IMPACT?

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:18-27, NASB)

The spiral of silence theory

is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic–if the person feels s/he is in the minority–for fear of reprisal or isolation from the majority.  The media play a large part in determining what people’s perception of the dominant opinion is, since our own, personal, direct observations are limited to a small percentage of the population. As the media’s coverage of the majority opinion gradually becomes the status quo, people who think they are in the minority are less and less likely to speak out. The theory assumes that people are constantly assessing the public’s opinion and that they use the media to do so. It also assumes that we have an inherent fear of isolation and know what opinions will bring on isolation by the majority.

What’s the take away for mass comm students?

Young Christians entering the media workplace will immediately be faced with challenges to their faith and to their willingness to promote God’s views over man’s. They will find the public arena circus where media thrive does two simultaneous and contradictory things:

  1. It sucks out the most venomous of public opinion under the guise of freedom of expression, and
  2. It spits that venomous opinion directly into the eyes of people with conservative viewpoints.
Photo Credit: TomSpinker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TomSpinker via Compfight cc

Christians in media

That is, my students entering the meretricious realm of news, public relations, creative production, and the like, must find a way to keep godly viewpoints from being automatically marginalized. They must give voice to what has largely been called “politically incorrect” and, thus, snuffed out like a burgeoning ember. They must quell the fear of reprisal that retards balanced and fair reporting and portrayals of all perspectives, especially those given to us by the Creator of all.

Dr. Darrell Roe (Ph.D., UGA, 1998) is an Assoc. Prof. of Mass Communication at ETBU. His specialty is analyzing the content of visual media and its effects on audiences.

Biblical Creationism

I have had a lot of casual discussions this week surrounding the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate from a couple of weeks ago. Included in this time frame was a formal panel discussion at LeTourneau University (LETU). While the formal discussion was centered on the debate, the other discussions focused on the areas of what does the Bible say about origins, what do Christians believe about origin, and what do churches teach about origins.

As I mentioned last week, in my opinion the debate was not a true debate (formal debate style based on public education), but it did bring up some interesting points and evidences about the creation/evolution controversy. Yet in many of the web responses and in my casual discussions, the general public seemed to be on a different page with their questions and understanding.

Most people utilized information received  from the denomination of their childhood, and there was a tendency to only know one viewpoint for origins with little knowledge about other competing Bible-believing, God-fearing theories.

I would like to present a brief summary of 3 theories of origins that are held by Bible believing Christians around the country. This is not an exhaustive list of theories or web sites about those theories, just a sample with places to look for more information.

  • Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

This is the position that Ken Ham believes. His web AIG logosite, Answers in Genesis, and the website of the Institute for Creation Research are two places to gain more information about this position. icr-home2This position holds to a literal reading of Genesis with the age of the earth determined by piecing together the genealogical accounts in the Old Testament.  Creation occurred around 6,000 years ago during a 6 day event. The days were actual 24 hour days. The geology of the earth was developed from the flood of Noah. Many in the YEC camp believe that without this interpretation, you cannot believe the Bible, and therefore, it is foundational for belief in Jesus.

  • Old-Earth Creationists

This position holds that the Genesis account of creation is correct, but the timing is not 24 hour days. A good website for this is Reasons to Believe. reasons-to-believeThe account uses day-age definition which means that the Genesis day was describing an amount of time. The age of the earth is accepted as 4.5 billion years. The Big-Bang is accepted as the origin of the cosmos. The creation of life is not attributed to evolution, but God’s intervention. Especially when humans are concerned, God created man in His image and distinct from other animals.

  • Evolutionary Creationists

This position holds that evolution is God’s means of creation. God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. A website for this view is BioLogos. BIOLOGOS  This view rejects the idea that God started the universe and has no active participation in it. God is still active in the natural world and in human history.  While the evolutionary process is what drives life, it is not a purposeless process, God still functions in the process.

Within each of these positions there are different levels of belief:

  • Each view has conservative to liberal participants.
  • Each has arguments for its interpretation of the Bible.
  • There are supporting evidences given from science and history for their viewpoint.
  • None of them accepts the notion that there is no God.
  • Each of them acknowledges that it is the God of the Bible in control.

One thing I would like to see at ETBU is a chance to discuss these and other ideas about origins. Maybe in a discussion forum like LETU held last Monday. Maybe just sitting around the tables at the Student center or in lobbies of dorms.

As long as the environment can be nonthreatening so those who disagree can feel safe in discussing their concerns, I think we can get some stimulating dialogue that will help strengthen our faith. Then we will be better equipped to answer the agnostic/atheist when asked about our belief system.

dsb

In-Credible!

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

For the past couple of weeks in my freshman leadership class, we’ve been discussing the idea of credibility in leadership, although most people who walked past my door today would have thought that we were discussing academic integrity or research skills, and frankly, we were.

In 2013 alone, plagiarism scandals hit the news no fewer than five times. Politicians, writers, actors, and even preachers have been charged with claiming others’ work as their own. Others have been found guilty of making up facts to support their ideas –sometimes when a little research would have uncovered real facts they could have used.

Apparently, our national leaders could use a recording of my 9th grade English teacher’s rant on the evils of plagiarism and shoddy research!

I think the easy accessibility of information has blurred some of the lines regarding our use of intellectual property. (An idea which I first seriously considered after a discussion with Karen Wiley in our Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.  Thanks, Karen!)

When information is so readily available with the click of a mouse, I think it has become easier to assume that free ideas are to be freely used.  The idea of what constitutes intellectual theft has become a little fuzzy in many people’s minds.

And so, this conversation about plagiarism isn’t just something to discuss as we read through the academic integrity policy as we read the syllabus. This isn’t just a discussion for the classroom; it’s a reminder that impacts our daily life as leaders.

Because when people can’t trust what we say, our credibility as leaders gets damaged.

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner point out that after 30 years of research, they consistently hear that “credibility is the foundation of leadership” (The Truth About Leadership, 2010). Even Aristotle pointed out that if you’re trying to convince someone of your idea, then you’d better be credible.

If our leaders want our commitment, support, and efforts, then apparently, we want to be able to believe what they say.

And so, we devote an entire week of class to talking about the leaders who fail to do their research or cite their sources and then lose credibility. And I find myself sounding more and more like my 9th grade English teacher!

-EP

Marty, the F-Bomber

According to Variety online, Martin Scorsese’s recent mega-hit, Oscar-nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street, has more instances of “the F-word” than any film in history. With 506 utterances in three hours, it easily tops the previous record-holder, Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam (with 435). Variety also describes The Wolf as being “all about excess,” including sex and drug abuse scenarios which I won’t go into here.

What Jesus said matters far more than any commentary I could write about the state of the “Hollyweird” movie industry and more than any academic perspective I could tell my blog readers and my mass communication students. If I but compare the set of values presented in The Wolf of Wall Street to the values Jesus presented from His world to ours daily, always living faithfully what He preached, I could efficiently end this blog with the following quote from the Lord, point supremely being made:

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it inthe day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37, NASB)

Writing through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul also warns against using bad language in his letter to the Ephesians (e.g., Ephesians 4:29 ).

What’s the academic perspective?

Photo Credit: 96dpi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: 96dpi via Compfight cc

In their intriguing study, Nabi and Clark (2008) found that “negatively reinforced behaviors on TV may be modeled anyway” (p. 407), that is, despite, and perhaps even because they are negatively modeled. And a plethora of mass communication research on everything from sitcoms to movies to TV ads and even the so-called reality of news violence has bolstered our understanding over the decades that there is something inherently attractive and, unfortunately, more memorable about negative portrayals than positive ones (be it strong/suggestive dialogue, anti-social behavior, immoral lifestyles, physical conflict/injury, and even damage to property).

Pointing to Social Cognitive theory (SCT), Nabi and Clark remind us that “vicarious learning” (p. 409) is indeed prevalent among TV audiences. Echoing Kellner’s (1980) work, in which he warns that “[TV's] imagery is. . . prescriptive as well as descriptive,” (p. 5),  Nabi and Clark’s research help us understand that what we view may ultimately become a guide for our own behavior thereafter.

What’s the take away for mass comm students?

Our students need to OWN the task soon to be set before them. Some of the most intelligent writing for film and television has been provocative, not because it body slams our libidos or cattle prods our visceral instincts, but because it makes us think–think about the noble, the possible, the enriching. It takes little imagination or skill to ambush the senses by flinging expletives like hand grenades.

Our students MUST do better when they enter the industry than continue to “slop the hogs” in feeding hungry audiences.

Our students simply MUST do better.

Again, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians makes it clear as to what lifestyle is pleasing to God and what is not, the latter including coarse speech, greed, and immorality (Ephesians 5:1-12). Scorsese’s latest box office success is rife with everything loved by the world, but not by the Almighty. Read what the Spirit inspired James to write also on this very subject! (James 4:1-10, NASB)

And He [Jesus] was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.” (Mark 4:24, NASB)

Dr. Darrell Roe (Ph.D., UGA, 1998) is an Assoc. Prof. of Mass Communication at ETBU. His specialty is analyzing the content of visual media and its effects on audiences.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

I was asked about my response to the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I will admit I had mixed feelings about the debate which apparently is what most of the web felt. You have some that loved it, some that hated it and many that were ambivalent about it.

My initial response was wow, what a setup. It was an elaborate stage with a wonderful technology and a professional setup. But looks aren’t everything…

My response quickly changed to one of disappointment.  A definition of a debate is “a structured argument.  Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention usually based on a topical issue.” The topic at hand was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Neither side seemed to focus on the topic. And while the debate seemed structured, the arguments were not.

Mr. Ham started in a good way by putting forth a definition of the term “science”. He posited two kinds of science, observational and historical.  Observational is the current method of exploring the universe. Historical then takes the observational and extrapolates it back to origins. He continued by speaking of secularists hijacking the word “science”. They define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural. Ham then defined “origins” as creation vs. evolution. And that was what the debate was really about.

Mr. Nye opened with a story about his family and bowties.  Entertaining but completely unrelated to the topic.  Then he brought up science as shown on the popular TV show, CSI, an entertaining show, but with little to do with real-world science. He continued with a series of disjointed statements about the flood and billions of non-Christian’s religious beliefs about creation. This debate quickly became unstructured.

What followed were both sides giving good decent presentations of their particular model of origins.

Mr. Ham had the more cohesive presentation.  He started with the need for defining science and evolution and stayed with that mostly.  He strayed a bit with questions to Mr. Nye about where naturalism gets logic, and which technology requires a naturalist belief. He came back around to his two kinds of science argument from his opening. Then he focused on “evolution” as another hijacked word.  The definition of evolution has changed over the years. He finished by stating that naturalism and evolution are just another type of religious worldview. In the middle, he had teasers of evidence of creation origins (see his website for more information).

Mr. Nye’s presentation was at best disjointed and, at worst, very confusing.  Even when he had valid scientific points, he put them together in an awkward way. His arguments centered on the short time frame in the creation model. He went from layers of ice to tree rings to number of species to working at Boeing to large boulders lying around the state of Washington. This jumping from point to point was hard to follow.  Then he talked about how Noah’s ark wouldn’t work and they wouldn’t be able to feed the animals based on the National Zoo which was imaged from a satellite in space which would baffle his grandfather (more head scratching). If you could hang with his line of thought, there were some evidences given that should be considered as one has time.

Now to be fair, this is a very difficult topic to debate.  There are a lot of complexities involved with origins that can’t be explained adequately in one or two hours. That is why many people think it is a waste of time trying to debate topics of creation/evolution.

You see, creation as defined by Ken Ham has the earth created in 6 literal 24-hour days about 6000 years ago with God guiding the entire process. Bill Nye defines origins as about 4.5 billion years ago with evolution guiding allowing life’s changes from slime to humans (and everything else alive today).

Let’s just look at the timing.  How long is 6000 seconds?  If you do the math, 60 seconds per minute and 60 minutes per hour you get just under two hours (actually 1.667 hours).

Now how long is 4.5 billion seconds? Continuing with the math, it comes out to be just under 143 years.  This is the difference you’re trying to make scientists believe.

Two hours compared to 143 years.

If I hold to the young earth model, I cannot even come close to discussing spiritual needs and how God’s love works with most scientists. The young earth model becomes a stumbling block for them hearing the gospel. So in my circle, I steer towards spiritual discussions and the gospel rather than origin debates.

dsb

Too Legit to Quit!

No one should ever have to endure the flu! How do I know? Because I’ve just (barely) survived it.

For nearly 5 days, I huddled under mounds of blankets sipping fluids and watching mindless television which has mostly consisted of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Jeopardy!

I do love Jeopardy and spent the week catching up on their Battle of the Decades which included all returning participants from the 80s and 90s. One category even included the slang which dominated my early years:

Awesome!

Tubular!

That’s legit!

With little else to ponder except the heights of my fever, I spent some serious time considering the idea of legitimacy in leadership. Last week I talked about those who fail in leadership. Some come back from mistakes, others lose their credibility and never return. So what is it that distinguishes legitimate leaders? And perhaps more importantly, if we want to be legitimate leaders what’s it going to take?

Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Malcolm Gladwell at the DMA’s Arts and Letters Live Event. During his talk, he referenced an idea from his newest book David and Goliath, where he talks about the reasons that people revolt. He references deterrence theory which would say that essentially people choose to revolt, or to disobey the law, when they determine that the benefits outweigh the consequences. As he references in his book, the theory hasn’t held up well to scrutiny.

Instead, Gladwell proposes that people obey the law when it is legitimate. He listed three elements that make the law legitimate:

  • Respect  – people are treated respectfully, which includes that they are heard
  • Fairness – people are treated fairly
  • Trustworthiness – people know that the rules aren’t all going to change overnight

His idea has some pretty good face validity.

Why?

Because when I listen to people who are fed up in their workplace, I often hear them talk about a lack of one of these things. I’ve heard it from a school teacher whose administrators change the daily schedule without giving the teachers any notice.  I’ve heard it from the employee who sits through meeting after meeting, but has learned to keep opinions to herself unless they agree with her boss’s. Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before these leaders have an outright mutiny on their hands.

I try to maintain similar standards in my classroom, with varying degrees of success.  Of course there are days when exhaustion or frustration get the better of me.  Still, on the whole, I want to create a classroom environment that maintains an air of legitimacy.

In a world where there are thousands of leadership books, hundreds of strategies, and dozens of complex approaches, I think leaders (and educators) are often just looking for something simple and practical.  How about consistently applying this simple three as a start?

Let people feel heard.

Treat people fairly.

Be trustworthy.

-EP

HEROIN

…did not kill Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was dead long before that last needle punctured his vein.

Arguably before ANY needle delivered the addictive narcotic to his waiting brain, the long-since abandoned depot waiting for a bullet express train to crash full throttle through its inner cavity, horns blaring and metal shrieking to a deafening roar and then… dead silence. Once again. Like so often before. The depot being haplessly reconstructed, so in due time the scenario could be re-enacted. Once again.

Photo Credit: ZaldyImg via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ZaldyImg via Compfight cc

Mass media just don’t get it.

(Click here to find out why.)

They never have. Countless celebrities have succumbed to alcohol and drug addictions, and countless more are succumbing as you read this. But the typical media response has been

Tsk, Tsk. What a shame. She (he) is such a “nice person.”

The collective media dullards entice us to make allowances for the artistically-gifted personality, characterizing them as luminaries on a far higher plane than most, who need to occasionally partake of the dark side of life for inspiration or to feed their never-satiated inner muses. So the drinking and the drugs and the uncivilized outbursts are tolerated, even venerated, as potential fodder for their on-stage or on-screen lives, so long as… the celeb de jure is generally perceived as… (yes)

NICE!

Until finally, much too late, the same media–though only for a moment–realize their own role in the artist’s demise. Then they superficially bemoan

Tsk, Tsk. What a shame. She (he) was such a “nice person.”

Schema theory explains that images and situations portrayed on television and film provide building blocks for how we, the audience, construct–and re-construct–our internal (cognitive) reality. Our reality about people, politics, tangible and intangible things, including our concept of the “the self,” are made up mostly of a curious amalgamation of information bits about the things which we have been experiencing and observing since we arrived on the planet. As we learn more about anything we adjust the schematic references in our minds, or, in some cases, we adjust the incoming information to fit into the existing realities already present there, since the latter requires fewer processing resources (and less work!). This has been demonstrated by Rumelhart (1980) and others who have done extensive research using schema theory.

What’s the take away for mass comm students?

I think most of my students don’t believe they can make a difference in the field of mass communication. But I am increasingly driven to help assure them they definitely can and to motivate them to want to try because Christians in media, working through the power of the Almighty, CAN help us all to GET IT.

We have to make sure that the world GETS IT. Those who produce, direct, and appear in media must be willing to bring the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to light in every performance, in every commentary, in every production, in every TV or movie scene. Christians have the truth about the Savior, and that is the only truth that will really set people free (John 8:31-32). The next generation–our current college students–are the ones who have to be “the light on the hill” that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14-16).

Being a “nice” person will NOT, in and of itself, bring one happiness in this life. Nor will it secure one eternal life with our Creator after all these perishable things which we see fade away and are gone forever (I Peter 1:17-25). Jesus Christ is forever (Hebrews 13:8). Only a personal relationship with Him gives us both lasting JOY now and LIFE in this dying world. More importantly, He offers us an eternal home in paradise with God the Father on that forever bright, Son-shining, everlasting day of eternal bliss which shall not fade away (Revelation 22).

Without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we are ALL, sadly, Walking Dead.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, NASB)

Dr. Darrell Roe (Ph.D., UGA, 1998) is an Assoc. Prof. of Mass Communication at ETBU. His specialty is analyzing the content of visual media and its effects on audiences.

 

That’s Life…what’s life?

Well, I’ve decided that I may not be particularly fond of blogging…for two reasons. First, I tend to have a lot more to say as I run out of space (so sequels may be in order), and second, I tend to have more topics invade my brain as I’m trying to finish the thoughts of the current blog. This is a prior invasion…

The joke goes: Well, that’s Life… what’s Life?… its a cereal…really, how much does it cost?… $2.50…I only have $2.00…well, that’s Life. ba dum tsh.

This blog is about life.  You see, I am a biologist by training. By definition I am one who studies life. But it is hard to actually define life.

Merriam-Webster defines Life as  :the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks

Now I know that is a definition, but it is really about characteristics of life. We have an easy time telling life from non-life. Does it grow, change, move or just sit there like a rock?

Even children and animals can recognize life, they see a stick on the ground then, whoop! it moves so it could be a snake…

We see the characteristics and know, this is life, but what makes something change from non-life to life? What is the essence of life?

You can’t just add electricity (sorry Dr. Frankenstein…), but there is a type of electricity involved with life processes. Some form of DNA/RNA is present in life as we know it. You have to have oxygen, but not all life needs it. And with the organisms that need it, too much harms life. Water is also a necessity, but again too much is a bad thing. It’s not a simple recipe.

Scientists have 3 rules of life, called the cell theory.

  1. The cell is the most basic unit of life.
  2. All living organisms are composed of one or more cells.
  3. All cells arise from pre-existing, living cells.

But these are not the essence of life. Scientists don’t know how to take a set of non-living chemicals and put them into a cell (the basic unit of life) and make it come alive. Even the right chemical balance taken out of the cell membrane becomes “dead”.

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Photo Credit: Curious Expeditions via Compfight cc

And there is a complex hierarchy of life or different levels of life. By that I mean that we are alive as organisms (Level 1). If our brains cease to function then we die. However, our organs can remain alive if donated to another body (Level 2). We are not alive, but part of us is.

And if you break the organ down into its cells, then the organ is dead, but the cells can be kept alive (Level 3).

Then if the cells are tweaked properly, they can be grown into another organ. Or the cells can be put into a prepared egg and become another organism (theoretically at least, see last week’s blog).

My kidney is not me, but it is a part of me. If I lose a kidney, I don’t cease to exist, but how many parts can I lose before I am no longer me? And some parts seem to define me or my image of me more that other parts.

And when did I begin? Does life begin at birth? Well, a level of life might begin there or another level after we reach a certain age of independence. That was 18 back in the day, but now seems to be more like 34…

Of course another level is when the egg and the sperm unite…conception begins that process of life.

But in reality we don’t create life at conception. Cells come from pre-existing cells, or life comes from pre-existing life.

Once life began at…well, the beginning, it has not stopped. It takes a living cell to make another living cell. Mama’s egg was alive before conception (as was Daddy’s sperm).

We are part of a great continuum of life. Part of a journey. Then when do I cease to be me? …cease to exist? (Ah…add a dash of sequel dust here…)

dsb