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Monday, March 29, 2021

Yellow Journalism

Among my first college classes (apart from my Bible college days) was a course in journalism. The definition hasn’t changed: the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites, or preparing news to be broadcast. Notice that the descriptor here relates to news.

Taking it a step further, I was taught that true news reporting involves objectivity. The site spells it out right: “News is the factual report of an event. What the reporter sees is supposed to be reported. Objectivity means to report the facts exactly the same way as they occurred. It goes against objectivity if the reporter adds something from his own imagination. Comment, suggestion, or proposal is not the task of a news reporter…It will not be an objective reporting if the reporter wants to angle, slant, or shade the news.”

To be sure, many stories are reported every day that attempt to follow this definition. Yet there are a several ways in which those reporters or writers can find a way to “angle, slant, or shade the news.” The media world is increasingly misrepresenting the profession of news reporting with bias. Tragically.

Thus, a whole new genre of supposed journalism has fallen under the title of “fake news.” Blame Trump for hyping the term. But don’t deny it happens. A 2019 article in The Guardian stated, “We live in a time of political fury and hardening cultural divides. But if there is one thing on which virtually everyone is agreed, it is that the news and information we receive is biased.”

Social media hardly constitutes any form of true journalism. But it can seem like it to many. Instead, it moves to a more classic definition of yellow journalism: “journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.” Truth be damned.

Adding to this are the media personalities (including late night talk hosts and others) who preach rather than entertain. A recent example of this is Bill Maher. On February 7th of this year, The Daily Wire reported that the atheist Maher made a claim that the January attack in Washington DC, at the Capitol, was a “faith-based initiative.” He laid blame on Christians who supported Donald Trump.

He wasn’t finished. “It’s fun to laugh at QAnon, with the baby-eating lizard people and the pedophile pizza parlors, but have you ever read the Book of [Revelation]? That’s the Bible,” said Maher. “That’s your holy book, Christians.”

The QAnon group deserves no space to espouse their views on media. Yet HBO and others have no problem with hosts like Maher making outrageous claims “based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.”

Maher obviously takes great delight in mocking those in the Christian faith. It’s one thing to disagree. It’s quite another to seek to align American opinion in bitterly opposing those of a beautiful faith who contribute greatly to the Republic.

Another gimmick of the brazen efforts to block the truth recently showed up in the mighty god of the marketplace, Amazon. In the past few weeks, the behemoth blocked anyone from purchasing the book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. The author, Ryan Anderson, is a highly credible researcher and was recently named president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Anderson made his case saying, “The best biology, psychology, and philosophy all support an understanding of sex as a bodily reality, and an understanding of gender as a social manifestation of bodily sex.”

In a Breakpoint commentary on this, John Stonestreet wrote, “The case is so clear, in fact, that supporters of transgender ideology have to rely on coercion, power (think the Equality Act), and name-calling to end the debate and advance their cause. Enlisting corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter has proven particularly effective.”

David, writing in the Psalms, writes of these types. His plea is, “Let ruin come on him unexpectedly, and let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his ruin.” Psalm 35:8 (CSB)

It’s time to stand up to yellow journalists and their marketing partners. 

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, March 22, 2021

Wake Up, Woke!

Many who have been around since the 1960s can remember the classic television commercial for Ken-L-Ration dog food, “My Dog’s Better Than Your Dog.” For those whose long term memory might miss a beat, here are the lyrics:

My dog's faster than your dog,
My dog's bigger than yours.
My dog's better 'cause he gets Ken-L Ration,
My dog's better than yours.

Three children happily sang this cute tune modified from original lyrics written by Tom Paxton. It made sense. Ken-L-Ration sponsored a television program in the Big Apple wherein a pooch was featured as a contest prize. Viewers would write in to explain why they should win the dog. Best response won the dog. (My letter is better than yours!)

We like being better than others. Moreover, we like believing we are better than other people – even when we aren’t. The “woke” culture breeds this.

One of the more recent examples of this sentiment is the number educational groups across America making the choice to rename schools that honor many of America’s founding fathers. These men did not ask for this tribute. It was bestowed on them.

In Illinois, we are known as the Land of Lincoln. Or at least we have been. According to the New York Times, Lincoln has been “criticized for his response to the so-called Minnesota Uprising, in which more than 300 Native Americans were sentenced to death by a military court after being accused of attacking white settlers in 1862.”

With contrary evidence, Lincoln reduced the number of condemned to 38. Those were then hanged. It was thought to be the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Today’s “better than Abe” enlightened ones readily overlook any great achievements by the former president, choosing these executions as the disparaging disqualifier. The group targeted some 43 other historical figures as well. All these men were viewed as inferior souls to the “woke” minds of our new age.

In Chicago, one of our tallest skyscapers long bore the name of John Hancock. Despite the name change on February 12, 2018, to 875 North Michigan Avenue, people continue to make reference to “the Hancock building.” Just as they continue to call our tallest building, “the Sears Tower.”

But another Hancock-named building recently made the news. The Chicago Tribune shared a photo of some students outside of what has been known as John Hancock College Prep. This bold new cadre of students are attempting to cleanse our past with the righteous indignation of today. They want the school name changed!

Hancock’s sin was that he probably had two or three slaves. This was revealed in a 1980 biography, The Baron of Beacon Hill. I’m sure Sir Hancock had other sins as well.

This may come as quite a shock to you and most of America, but these students are no more righteous than Hancock. They think they are. But they are wrong. Oh, yes, the idea of keeping slaves is a nasty one. Around the world, however, it’s more prevalent than we like to think. 

The self-righteous of our times fail to understand a deep spiritual truth. Not only are ALL of us sinners, but we have quite a depraved heritage! The truly enlightened appreciate a church doctrine known as “total depravity.” It says “that all persons, as a consequence of the Fall (in Genesis), are born morally corrupt, enslaved to sin, at enmity with God, and unable to please Him or even of themselves to turn to Christ for salvation.”

Without God’s Divine and perfect intervention by the sacrifice of His only Son–Jesus the Messiah—we’re stuck in that depraved condition. Look deep enough and you’ll see the sin virus in your own life. Most of us refuse such self-examination or admission.

Sadly, 21st century Americans conclude that our seasoned wisdom has made us “better people.” We may not hold slaves. But we are instead enslaved to the moral depravity of our age. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.” (Romans 3:10, NLT)

The woke…should wake up!

 That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Rush to Judgment

The “most dangerous man in America” is dead. Rush Limbaugh.

A lot of people absolutely loved the incredibly popular broadcaster. A lot of people hated him. So what was he…a good guy? A bad guy? We all make our own judgments.

Given a choice between the highest paid radio personality (Howard Stern) or the second highest paid (Rush Limbaugh) I’d take Rush. Both have been patently offensive on many an occasion.

Stern made his mark by making anything and everything sexual his morning banter. One of his more significant controversies brought up again recently was a blackface routine of his and, on a separate occasion, a hugely insulting comment about Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. I refuse to share details of either—but they’re out there. Stern now says he “regrets” his former behavior. Conveniently.

Rush found humor by making political parody his top act. His distaste for aggressive feminism generated his term “feminazis,” and the generalized reference to progressives as “commie libs.” Name calling is a good way to make enemies.

I first started listening to Rush in the summer of 1990. My political views mostly aligned with his. He was boisterous, often irreverent, but witty and clever.

I stopped listening for lengthy periods for several reasons, but not likely the ones that others did. I tired of incessant commercialism. His ad breaks were often followed by a live commercial read as if it were content. Plus, his choice of callers were often given to self adulation. Feeding your own ego is always a challenge for media talent.

He won and lost a number of advertisers over the years. On a few occasions, his satire went too far. Opposition groups would hammer his advertisers until they said “uncle.” (I.e., in 2012, Rush called a law student a “slut” on the air.)

He solved part of that problem by creating his own products and pitching them, again, as “content.” His Rush Revere book series for kids was one example. Another was his “Two if by Tea” six packs. Patriotism was Limbaugh’s unofficial middle name. And then, of course, he had his own store where you could buy Rush in countless ways. Similar to Graceland where stores have everything Elvis.

I had the occasion to meet Rush—very briefly. It was at the private home of one of his early Sacramento radio advertisers before he jumped ship and became a national celebrity. In the back yard of this advertiser’s home, Rush had taken a seat and two or three chairs were left open to one side of him. I went and sat down next to Rush. It was a short chat—and then a devoted fan captured his attention.

Another of his trademark lines was to make fun of a small community north of Sacramento named Rio Linda. Even on his national show he continued to tease this location by implying the residents were in need of mental clarity on the simplest of topics. Should I confess? I actually LIVED in Rio Linda for a few months!

Well, Rush has gone on to his day of judgment. What kind of reception do you suppose he received? Will all of his sins be recounted and held against him for eternity? One headline following his departure read, “Remembering Rush Limbaugh: ‘Heaven’s Gain’ to Some, New ‘Radio Show in Hell’ to Others.”

Within the last year, Rush made an open profession of faith in Jesus Christ publicly on his radio program. His deteriorating health had given him a much deeper appreciation for each day of life that he’d been given. If that was truly the case, then regardless of what the Grand Accuser says about Rush before God, the Limbaugh slate of sin was wiped clean.

The Bible is clear on this: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NIV) That promise is offered to anyone!

For many, that kind of forgiveness is a hard spiritual pill to swallow. Regardless, best avoid making a “rush to judgment.”

Your turn is coming.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, March 8, 2021

Frozen in Time

Almost three years living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex had me on the road quite often. Along with a weekly radio lunch promotion in malls and parks throughout the area, there were a number of remote broadcasts and other business appointments requiring travel. The expressways and I became good friends.

A couple of noteworthy aspects of travel during the winter months in that part of Texas stood out. The first was the famed “Blue Norther” (also referred to as a Texas Norther.) It’s a remarkable phenomenon. Temperatures can reach into the 80s immediately before a sudden cold front drops in. This fast moving weather will plummet temperatures by 20 to 30 degrees or more in a matter of minutes. When sleet and snow are mixed in during those winter months, look out!

The second unusual aspect of Texas highways around the Metroplex was the construction of overpasses—sometimes in layers—that rose quite high above ground. Watching huge semis navigate those at faster than preferred speeds often gave me a chill as I drove under them. Add in those icy Blue Norther conditions and it’s time to pray.

I’m sure there was a lot of praying—Texas size prayers—being uttered on the morning of February 11th of this year. As the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported, “The sun had not yet cracked the horizon early Thursday when in the express lanes of an interstate that twists around downtown Fort Worth, vehicles began to slam into one another.”

In one of those cataclysmic kinds of incidents, the morning commute turned nasty. Ice had formed on a half-mile section of I-35W. Somewhere around 1-30 vehicles lost their way in the dark, pitching cars, pickup trucks, and 18-wheelers into guard rails and into each other.

At the time the news was first printed, it was said that six people had died. Two of those victims were identified as Tiffany Louann Gerred, 34, and Aaron Luke Watson, 45. Both were from the Fort Worth area.

Additionally, some sixty-five were injured, some in critical condition. All were adults. Firefighters had to deal with trapped passengers, cutting away the steel and aluminum that had crushed these poor souls. Thank God for the dedication and bravery of the emergency personnel!

While I’m sure upgrades have been made since the 1980s, I’ve traveled that stretch of road many times. I could recognize certain scenery in the pictures that were released. This debacle has now created an unfortunate memory for many.

Tiffany and Aaron and the other four who died were on their way somewhere. They had plans. Families. Jobs. No doubt they had dreams. Big expectations. One thing they didn’t expect: that February 11th, 2021, would be their final day on earth.

Not long before, a tragic fire in northwest Chicago took the lives of four very young girls and their mother. It appears a space heater and a locked door ended their days. Pity the workers who came upon that scene.

While our hearts go out to these families, there is also a critically important lesson for us all who remain. Eternity awaits us. Only the appointment time is missing. Eternity in the presence of God is promised to those who trust in Jesus Christ.

The time for those decisions is now. “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT) Trust in Christ. Don’t look back.

As I said, Texas-size prayers followed the I-35 pile up. Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes said this: “The scene we saw today is one really unlike one probably any of us have ever seen and one we pray to God we never see again.”

If only that could be true. Are you ready?

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, March 1, 2021

Driving Lessons

Our oldest grandchild turns 16 today. She already has a car. Instead of having to save up to buy one, her Nana and Papa have given her our well-used 2005 Hyundai Sonata. It even has CarPlay, which goes well beyond an AM/FM radio with cassette player. I think the car came with that!

She’s also had driving lessons. Two kinds. First, the “official” driving lessons that come from driving schools, and the unofficial kind that come from your parents on some private roads or empty parking lots. Or maybe a farm tractor. These driving lessons can start as early as, well, no one should probably admit.

Here are driving tips from various sources to help Ashley (and you) be a smart and better driver.

Drive defensively.
I recall my dad telling me this long before I saw an ad campaign for it. It has stayed with me. Always anticipate bad moves by other drivers.

The brake is your friend.
Okay. This one is mine. I helped teach all three of my children to drive. From the very beginning, I wanted them to understand that a car can get away from you in turns, on bad roads, or with any kind of malfunction. Keep the car under control with good brakes.

Speed kills. 
At least a few times a week, I drive past a memorial site where a young man (teenager) flipped his BMW after passing someone at high speed. He never made it home. As for the interstate, I’ve always liked this one: “Angels who guard you when you drive, usually retire at 65.”

Black ice is a close second. 
All weather related issues raise the complexity of driving. Slow down. But the unseen problem of black ice is among the worst. No matter how capable the vehicle or how good the tires, black ice can spill you.

Texting while driving will also do you in.
Enough said. Overhead expressway signs remind drivers of this often.

Multi-tasking of any kind rapidly increases risk.
I admit to eating on trips as I’m driving. Or maybe checking an email at a stop light. I know better. So should you. The price of losing focus can be steep.

Seat belts save lives. As do air bags.
In my lifetime, we once either rode or drove cars that lacked one or both! Statistics prove we are the losers who fail to properly strap in.

Driving under the influence of anything is bad form. 
That includes the influence of your friends. We’re mostly discussing mind altering substances here. Anything that weakens your response time. Distracting friends, conversations, or antics fall into this category.

Pay those insurance bills!
This one can cost you a drivers license! I violated this once as a very young guy. My excuse was not having the money. A minor accident convinced me never to do this again.

Keep up with the fluids. 
Change your oil. Refill the wiper fluid, etc. I was told years ago that NOTHING keeps your car running young more than getting the oil changed regularly (every 3-7 thousand miles, depending on the vehicle.) It’s the cheapest insurance for engine maintenance.

Know how to change a tire. ...Or have roadside assistance.
Actually, even WITH roadside assistance you best know how to change a tire! Not all locations allow for mobile phone service. Plus, others may need your help!

Inexperience is no excuse for an accident.
Drivers training only gets you so far. You need experience behind the wheel. The more ways you can carefully work through challenging situations in practice the better. Never blame inexperience for being unprepared.

The Bible says, “However, be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you don't forget the things which you have seen with your own eyes. Don't let them fade from your memory as long as you live. Teach them to your children and grandchildren.” Deuteronomy 4:9 (GWT)

Whether it’s driving or a myriad of other life lessons, that’s a great reminder.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest: