How is Calling for National Revival “Controversial”?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal did something supposedly “controversial.” He called for a national revival. As a Washington Post article by Rosalind S. Helderman (1/24/15) noted: “Skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs.” According to Helderman, Jindal insisted this was a religious event, not a political one. The rally was founded by American Family Association. Jindal said: “Let’s all go plant those seeds of the gospel….Share the good news with all whom we encounter.” He added: “We can’t just elect a candidate to fix what ails our country. We can’t just pass a law and fix what ails our country….We need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country.” So, what makes the rally so “controversial”? Is it the liberal protesters outside the rally? For those aware of America’s history, there should be nothing controversial about Governor Jindal’s appearance at the rally. America was born as a result of a national revival, known as the First Great Awakening. It began in the 1730s under the preaching of the humble and brilliant Jonathan Edwards. And it was spread from colony to colony through many itinerant preachers, but especially Rev. George Whitefield, a British evangelist who spoke to thousands in a day long before microphones. Sarah Edwards, Jonathan’s wife, said this about the impact of George Whitefield’s messages: “It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible. . . . Our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day laborers throw down their tools to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected.” Whitefield returned repeatedly to America. The great British historian Paul Johnson, author of A History of the American People, writes: “[H]e returned again and again to the attack—seven continental tours in the thirty years from 1740—and all churches benefited from his efforts…” Even Ben Franklin, clearly not orthodox in his theology, commented on the social effects of the revival and of Whitefield’s preaching: “It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.” The founders made it clear that our republic depended on the people being virtuous and that religion was the means by which the people would be virtuous. You can see this in Washington’s Farewell Address. You can see it in this famous quote from John Adams: “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Thomas Jefferson—who later in life privately held unorthodox beliefs, while regularly worshiping in orthodox services, which he supported financially—was a champion of religious freedom. So was his friend and compatriot, James Madison; and they were therefore heroes in their day among the evangelicals. They lived in the Piedmont region of Virginia, which was a hotbed of revivalism and a part of what we now call the Second Great Awakening. That movement helped give birth to the abolition of slavery. During the dark days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed April 30, 1863 as a national day of fasting and prayer. In his proclamation, he noted, “We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.” Today, we need to wake up from our national amnesia. We kick God out of all of our institutions, then we turn around and get mad at Him for not intervening when some national calamity hits. This reminds me of the verse in Proverbs that says, “A man’s own folly ruins his life. Yet his heart rages against the Lord.” So, when any modern leaders, like Governor Jindal, assert that America needs a new spiritual awakening, they are the ones in touch with our nation’s history—not the modern intelligentsia that views the religious right as interlopers to an otherwise blissful secular state.


Jerry Newcombe is cohost/senior TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles on Jefferson), and (w/ D. James Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? & (w/ Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire. @newcombejerry

Is Islam at a Turning Point?

The massacre of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France by Islamic militants has galvanized the world in ways not seen since the 9/11 terrorist attacks here in the United States. In fact, it is arguable that public opinion has shifted more after these attacks than when the United States lost nearly 4000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. One of the most visible shifts has been in global Muslim opinion. We are painfully familiar with the list of terrorist attacks — and attempts — perpetrated by Islamic extremists, including the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, the U.S.S. Cole attack, 9/11, the Fort Hood massacre, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the “underwear bomber”), the London and Madrid subway bombings, the attack in Benghazi and the Boston Marathon bombing. After each incident, western governments went to great lengths to distinguish ordinary Muslims from those engaging in these atrocities. Within the Muslim community, however, a relative few voices would speak up to condemn the acts, and they often seemed muted and isolated. Activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Canada’s Raheel Raza would endeavor to raise the ire — and the volume — of other Muslims, largely in vain. Not so now. Indeed, even before the Hebdo murders, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi gave a speech to Muslim clergy at the Al-Azhar religious school on New Year’s Day, in which he made a number of impassioned statements, remarkable for their clarity and bravery: “It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (Islamic world) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! “Is it possible that 1.6 billion people (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible! “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn; it is being destroyed; it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.” This speech also came on the heels of al-Sisi’s attendance at a Christian Christmas Mass — a first for any Egyptian president. (Author George Will has called for al-Sisi to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.) At the peace rally in Paris last Sunday, Israel’s president, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, put aside their differences and marched with dozens of other world leaders, along with more than a million other people. And across Europe, Muslims both public and obscure have rallied to loudly condemn the attacks, and to stake a visible claim for a vision and practice of Islam that exists in harmony with others. Parisian Muslims came out in droves to march with Jews and Christians, pass out roses and hold signs reading “I am Charlie AND Muslim” and “Not in the name of Allah.” Using more colorful language, the Moroccan-born Muslim mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb announced on live television that Muslims who did not like freedom “should pack their bags and leave.” More attention is being paid to Pakistani Muslim Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Taliban gunshot survivor, and youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Scholars of Islam have remarked for years that the debate within Islam has been one of competing ideologies. But recently, some commentators have suggested that the rift is more one between eras , with fundamentalists espousing a worldview that is a thousand years out of date in 2015. Those making these observations draw hopeful comparisons to historical Christianity, and the eventual elimination of violence through education and economic growth. If Christianity could leave behind the bloodshed of the Reformation and the Salem witch trials, it is argued, surely Islam can adapt to the modern world as well. For millions of Muslims across the globe, it already has. It is too soon to know if the voices of these modern Muslims will drown out those whose ideologies are behind the brutalities we are witnessing almost daily. But they are engaged in a battle for the identity of their faith. It is a battle they must win, for their sakes and ours. To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

Recently, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis made some headlines by basically asserting that there is no American dream. It’s a myth. He crunched the numbers, supposedly disproving it. Hmm. My dad used to always say, “Did you ever hear about the statistician who drowned in a river, the average depth of which was 6 inches?” KOVR-TV interviewed professor Gregory Clark about his findings. He declared: “America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden. … That’s the most difficult part about talking about social mobility is because it is shattering people’s dreams.” Yet America has many “rags to riches” stories. The rest of this article is dedicated to one such case. Leo Raymond was born in a Faribault, Minnesota, farmhouse Sept. 24, 1921. That town is about an hour south of the Twin Cities. He was one of six children — three boys, three girls. The farmhouse didn’t have electricity when he was growing up, nor did it have indoor plumbing. Leo had to walk to his one-room schoolhouse, which was a mile away. One of his sons used to quip, “He had to walk uphill, both ways.” But truly, he had to walk to and from school every day, even when it was really cold. One February, the temperature never got above minus 20. Even though that one-room schoolhouse from first to eighth grade was so rudimentary and simple, he got a first-rate education compared with any modern education. His incredible abilities in math and grammar were made secure in that small room. He was so sharp as a youngster that he skipped second grade, and his mother, a retired schoolteacher, decided to save what paltry money she could to help create a college fund for little Leo. One version of his obituary says that was “a good thing because he hated doing farm chores and couldn’t wait to shake the cow manure off his shoes and see what the big city had to offer.” Leo became the first in his family to go off to college. He attended the University of Minnesota. This was in 1938, when he was 16. He graduated with a degree in economics in 1942. He served in the Navy aboard a transport ship in the Pacific, the USS Ulysses S. Grant. After his service in the Navy, he earned an MBA at the University of Michigan in 1947. Meanwhile, during World War II, he met his wife-to-be, Ann Lombard. She was the daughter of a prominent military surgeon who was transferred a lot during his career. They got married May 1, 1948, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Pittsburgh. She was born in New Orleans, and her marrying a Yankee was an interesting combination. It was a wonderful marriage (no civil war there). They settled in the Chicago area, eventually moving to and staying in Winnetka, Illinois. They had eight children — six boys, two girls. They were devout Catholics. They provided everything needed for their children, including quality education at all levels. Leo became a certified public accountant and worked for Arthur Andersen & Co. He went on to work for Field Enterprises, beginning in 1952. Later, he became the vice president and general manager of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. He worked for three Marshall Fields — III, IV and V. This was an amazing achievement — going from a poor farm without an indoor bathroom to becoming an executive for years at two major papers in one of America’s biggest cities. Tragedy struck Leo in 1977 at the age of 55, in the form of bleeding in the brain. But prayers, organized by his wife, went up all over for him. She oversaw round-the-clock prayer vigils for his recovery, which eventually came. He was never able to drive again, but overall he became his pleasant self again. By God’s grace, his family received the gift of 37 years with him after that. In 1979, he transitioned from his executive position to teaching accounting at DePaul University. He was tough but well-respected. If you deserved an F, he gave you an F, regardless of your self-esteem. If you deserved an A, you got that, too. He retired in 1991. Leo was a generous man, always picking up the tab. A whiz at cards, he was “Lucky Leo.” He was plain-spoken. One time, when he was dining with a high official in the Roman Catholic Church, the cardinal, as I heard the story, had some mayo on his chin. Leo discreetly pointed it out to him. Then the cardinal turned to his underlings and rebuked them for not telling him. Another time, Leo and a son were in a famous restaurant in New York City. While waiting for a table, he sat next to a man with a strange handlebar mustache at the bar. It was Salvador Dali. Leo had no idea who he was. He said to the artist, “Well, you must have quite a lot of self-esteem to sport a mustache like that. How do you do? I’m Leo.” Dali introduced himself, and Leo asked him what he did for a living. Hearing the answer, he told Dali, “A painter? Well, we just settled on a new contract with the painters union, and those guys were tough negotiators.” Dali replied, “Not that kind of painter. I paint on the canvas.” Leo looked surprised and said, “There’s no money in that. How can you afford to eat in a place like Sardi’s?” That’s when Dali roared and insisted on paying for their drinks. The end of Leo’s earthly time came Dec. 10, 2014, at age 93 at an assisted-care facility in the Chicago area. Not bad for a poor Minnesota farm boy. Long live the American dream. P.S. I know this is all true because Leo Raymond’s last name was Newcombe. He was my dad. Jerry Newcombe is co-host/senior TV producer of “Kennedy Classics” and has written/co-written 25 books. For more information, visit To read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

Classic Zig Ziglar–Accepting Responsibility

Today, one of the laments we hear from employers, parents, educators, etc., is that it’s difficult to find someone who will accept responsibility for their performance and/or behavior. Too many people, we moan, are irresponsible. This has been true since the beginning of time, and it started with Adam and Eve. God placed them in a garden replete with all the heart could desire. He told them that everything was for them, except for one tree in the middle of the garden. Most of us know the story. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. That evening, God came walking in the garden and, in this slightly altered version of the Scriptures, called out, “Adam, where are you?” Now God knew where Adam was, but he wanted Adam to speak up. Adam responded, “Over here, Lord.” Then God asked, “Adam, did you eat the forbidden fruit?” Again, God knew that he had, but he wanted Adam to confess. Adam did the manly thing when he responded, “Lord, let me tell you about that woman you gave me.” God then asked Eve, “Eve, did you eat the fruit?” Eve kept the ball rolling by responding, “Lord, let me tell you about that snake.” And obviously, the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on! Yes, I understand that theologically speaking I don’t have a leg to stand on with that story, but the point is this: Most of us do not have a leg to stand on when we blame others for our difficulties. It’s OK to blame them for problems in the past and for causing certain situations of the moment, but we must accept responsibility for our own performance. When we do that, our future immediately gets brighter because we are in position to do something about it. Take that approach to life, and I’ll see you at the top! To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at Subscribe to Zig Ziglar’s free email newsletter through COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

7 Resolutions for 2015

Many years ago, my wife and I wrote a book on the subject of the 7 deadly sins. It was called “A Way of Escape.” It was not a bestseller, but we did get many requests from prisoners for the book. Perhaps that had something to do with the title. I remember one time when Bill Maher held the book up when I was a guest on his ABC-TV show. He read the title of the book and its subtitle, which is “Experiencing God’s Victory Over Temptation.” He then said, “Yuck,” as in who would want to experience victory, divine or otherwise, over temptation?

  1. C.S. Lewis once noted, “Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is….We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”

Here are seven resolutions for the new year. They are simple: Keep the 7 deadly sins in check and cultivate their opposites. What are the 7 deadly sins? Pride—as in arrogance, haughtiness—greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth. These are root sins that were catalogued by Medieval saints centuries ago. I call them “root sins” because they lay at the root of many other sins. People who don’t understand history have been condemned to repeat it. Why reinvent the wheel? Although the concept of the seven deadly sins goes back many centuries ago, I daresay if you read today’s news, you will find all sorts of news stories related to people committing one or more of the seven deadly sins. Try it. Pick up your paper today, watch the evening news, or scan the news on the wire services on the Internet and see for yourself. Even Henry David Thoreau, who lacked a Christian worldview, had a great quote on this point: “There are a hundred men hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.” As a list per se, the 7 deadly sins are not found in the Bible. But certainly the principles are there:

  • Pride – “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (a repeated theme in Scripture).
  • Greed – “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
  • Envy – “Let us walk properly…not in strife and envy.”
  • Anger – “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Paul adds, Don’t let the sun go down on your anger—i.e., don’t go to bed with a fight unresolved. I have often given that as advice at weddings.
  • Lust – “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” Sinful desires is often translated as lust.
  • Gluttony – “Do not mix with winebibbers and gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man in rags.”
  • Sloth – “One who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.”

Theses sins come natural to us. Some are stronger urges for some than others. As to gluttony, I’m not much tempted by donuts. But there are certain sweets that truly knock my socks off. It’s important to note our own strengths and weaknesses. As to pride, i.e., arrogance, this thought from Paul helps keep me straight: “What do you have that you did not receive?” There is a great poem whose author is unknown to me: “Two natures beat within my breast. The one is foul, the other blest. The one I love, the other I hate. The one I feed will dominate.” Therefore, feed your soul good and positive things. And starve the negative things. There it is. Feed the soul with positive things. Of course, the first step is coming to know Jesus Christ—repenting of your sins and accepting Him. He gives us a new nature when we do. But that new nature is at odds with the old nature. Paul describes in Romans 7 a situation where he wants to do the right thing, but sin is right there, often getting the better of him. But sin need not get the better of us. It is important to distinguish between being tempted and giving into temptation. Luther said temptation is like a bird flying overhead. Giving into it is like letting that bird build a nest in your hair. Jesus was tempted, but He never sinned. There is also another way of grouping these sins, and that is in relation to love or charity. Pride, envy, and anger reflect a lack of love  All these sins are hateful, and when we commit them, we harm others. The person committing them wishes to gain something, often by stepping on someone else. Greed, gluttony, and lust, which are sins of excess, reflect love of self.

  • We have to have money, but the love of money is wrong.
  • We have to eat, but excessively gorging ourselves is unhealthy.
  • Sex in the context of marriage is beautiful, but lust perverts that which is life-giving and can make it life-destroying. Many think they are in love, but are only in lust. Lust takes. Love gives.

All of these sins generally show a lack of love and respect for our fellow man. Although with today’s material abundance, it is not true that gluttony on the part of one will necessarily cause another person to go hungry. If Laurel looks like he survived a famine, it isn’t Hardy’s fault. So here are my 7 resolutions for the new year. Strive to keep these 7 deadly sins in check and instead cultivate their opposites. A Christian should seek to develop humility instead of pride; contentment instead of greed; love instead of envy; self-control instead of anger; purity instead of lust; moderation instead of gluttony; and hard work instead of sloth. Choose wisely this year, and you will not regret it. ### Jerry Newcombe is cohost/senior TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles on Jefferson), and (w/ D. James Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? & (w/ Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire.  @newcombejerry