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Monday, June 28, 2021

Freedom or Minds of Mush?

An article in Teen Vogue magazine posted on their website last year was titled, "What Is Democratic Socialism and Why Is It Growing More Popular in the U.S.?" It should not come as a surprise that informing teens about something trendy should be written. Instead, it is the rise of the quasi-endorsements of the socialist mindset that I find troubling.

Here is how the article began: “Socialism. It’s back. Left for dead after the Cold War, revised by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential bid, and popularized by social media superstars like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the concept has gone mainstream.”

Well it certainly seems to have gone that direction. And why not? From middle school years through our colleges and universities you will find plenty of supporters. Popularizing ideas as failure-driven as true socialism must find advocacy somewhere. Who better to shape young minds than our educators?

Is this “popularity” real?? A 2018 Gallup survey reported that 51% of Americans age 18-29 held a positive opinion of socialism. Among Democrats, the number rises to 57%.

The Pacific Institute sees a definite connection to this embrace of socialism in our education system.They cite a 2015 article in The Washington Post in which they reported on research that exposed the most liberal and conservative jobs in America.

Here were some findings:

First, among actors and actresses there are 90 Democrats for every 10 Republicans. 

As for our schools…
  • Among English teachers, there are 97 Democrats for every three Republicans.
  • Among high school math and science teachers overall, there are 87 Democrats for every 13 Republicans.

Furthermore, Dr. Greg Forster, Friedman Fellow at the school-choice organization EdChoice, explains that university education schools indoctrinate future teachers in left-wing ideology. In his words, “Peruse the course catalog of any major education school, or read the Twitter feeds of the professors,” and you will “find yourself swimming in an ocean of hard-left ideology: ‘critical theory’ that says there is no truth, only power.”

Teen Vogue surmises that the pandemic has “lent new urgency to discussions about creating a more fair and equitable economic system.” But, sadly to the writer, “not everyone’s a fan.” Former President Donald Trump is “among the holdouts.”

The magazine sets up a poster boy for an attack on capitalism: Jeff Bezos—founder and CEO of Amazon.  Teen Vogue tells the teens his billions “gives him real power.” And worries, “Ask yourself: Who controls the American economy? Who calls the economic shots? Ordinary working people, or wealthy capitalists like Bezos?”

Can’t you see the picket signs ready to be printed?? Get the masses ready to march! Hold a Marx-fest at your neighborhood park! Rally the forces and prepare the overthrow….!

Wait! No need for radical action! Instead, just vote the socialists into power! Like in Buffalo, New York! This past week it was announced there was a stunning upstate upset. A Democratic-Socialist insurgent named India Walton was able to defeat a four-term incumbent and former Buffalo Mayor. It was a primary election in which Walton clearly communicated her socialist commitments. She was the favorite of the Buffalo chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Teen Vogue offers teens a vision! “Rather than allowing a tiny elite to call all the economic shots, modern socialism wants to empower ordinary people to make these decisions collectively. Under democratic socialism, major industries and large corporations would be brought under social ownership and control.”

America is soon to celebrate our Fourth of July Independence Day. Freedom is a very biblical concept. Psalm 119:45 reads, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” (NIV)

Our freedoms are being fiercely challenged on many fronts. Free enterprise is being threatened.

Unless we aggressively work to change the education mindset on capitalism, forget dreams of true prosperity. Instead, we will settle for socialism’s “minds of mush.”

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, June 21, 2021

The Game I Left Behind

The year was 1977. Radio Shack was selling tons of CBs. (Citizen Band radios, for those too young to remember.) In this pre-smartphone era, this was a way for people to communicate with friends as they went about in their cars—or homes—just like truckers had been doing for years. CBers had their own language.

Terms like “bear” or “smokey” referred to police officers. Look out for them. An “angry kangaroo” was a truck with one or both of the headlights out. A “pregnant roller skate” was a VW Beetle. And there were numeric communications as well. Like “10-4” meant (and still does) either agreement or you’ve been acknowledged. Truckers use “10-7” to sign off.

That same year—1977—Radio Shack began selling their first video game. It was called “Pong.” About as basic as you can get, you could play by yourself or with someone else, and hit a video “ball” back and forth. Like ping pong. You could speed it up or slow down the game to your choosing. The video ball would bounce around the screen and, if you missed it, your opponent got the point. Game to 21.

That was the first and only video game I’ve ever mastered. I make no apologies. Video gaming has grown into a multi billion dollar business. Real numbers look like this. Global video game revenues in 2020 topped $179.7 billion! That means this industry is a bigger moneymaker than the global movie and North American sports industries combined. It’s left me in the dust.

I’ve been mostly able to ignore all this hyper-video activity as I’ve aged. Our own children were getting into the games to play on computers or with units that hooked up to the television. Now, my grandkids all have plenty of video games on their smartphones.

I mindlessly have been going about my own business. Until this past week. Our grandson from California came for a week. He was loaded up with his portable video game player and multiple very small chip-based games. Plus those on his smartphone. Like many kids—and adults—it becomes not just a time filler, but an addiction.

His week with us culminated with a trip to GameStop. Heaven for “gamers.” I was lost. They did have a video screen to watch. Streams of something like vlogs reviewing the latest and greatest video games. In language that belongs somewhere on another planet. The stars of the gaming universe also have PLENTY of podcasts as well. It’s like listening to a conversation in a Star Wars bar!

I’ve certainly not turned a blind eye of realization to know that there are very dark games in this foreign world. Things no one need to “play” as a game. I do not need to expand on this. Simply do a web search for “video game ratings for parents.” Start there.

The gamers have more than just the games and the language. They have special goggles (or whatever they call them) to wear. And there are special gaming chairs to sit in while watching your life fade away.

What? Me—a cynic? Yeah…I guess. What starts as a bit of entertainment becomes a mesmerizing addiction to many of our kids. And—yes—adults.

Ephesians 5:16-17 reads, “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (ESV)

Those are haunting words to me. The world offers so many distractions. I’m tempted by many. Becoming a “gamer” is not one of them. Despite my fling with pong.

Wow. I’ve been left well behind.

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, June 14, 2021

What Rightfully Belongs to God

Decades ago, our small group in California used a book study from Chuck Colson. Loving God was a Gold Medallion award winner for Colson. It proved to be true spiritual enrichment.

In the preface of that book, Colson explained how his reading of The Holiness of God by Dr. R.C. Sproul brought Chuck to his knees. I was then determined to read the work by Sproul. I did – and over subsequent years interviewed R.C. on several occasions.

Here’s a brief overview of his book: “The Holiness of God examines the meaning of holiness and why people are both fascinated and terrified by a holy God. It explores God’s character, leading to new insights on sin, justice, and grace. The result is a new awareness of our dependence upon God’s mercy and a discovery of the awesomeness of His majestic holiness. Dr. R.C. Sproul says, ‘The holiness of God affects every aspect of our lives—economics, politics, athletics, romance—everything with which we are involved.’” (You can order a copy on

No other descriptor of the God of the universe carries the same importance as “holy.” The word is used three times to describe the Lord in Isaiah 6:1-3. The same triple use of “holy” is found in Revelation 4:8. That emphasis is significant.

What exactly does being holy mean? The holiness of God reveals that God is distinct from all creation. He is truly "set apart." That word “holy” appears more than 600 times in the Bible, describing something or someone set apart from all else. Regarding the Almighty, this means He is completely without sin and void of any imperfection.

Mankind has NOT been kind in the use of this word. In fact, it’s abusive to the very idea of holiness. Common phrases like holy cow, holy moly, holy mackerel, holy smokes, holy crap (and the more polite holy crow and the less polite holy sh__) reduce holiness to a mere element of surprise. We have taken this attribute of God and treated it carelessly. Rudely.

As a child, I somehow found there was a pecking order of offensive words, or what are commonly termed “swear words.” My family did not tolerate them. At the top of that list was the phrase “G-D.” It was truly a way for someone to “curse” whatever stood in their way.

I recently heard a song on a SiriusXM music channel that repeated that offensive phrase several times. It’s by the group Panic at the Disco titled, I Write Sins Not Tragedies. My soul burned a bit with anger in hearing it – mainly because of the insensitivity of SiriusXM to play this trash. I then did a web search on the term “G-D” and found there were several even more offensive songs spewing it out– taking God’s name seriously in vain.

Another example of misrepresentation of God involves the Bible story about Noah and the Great Flood. This is God’s rescue of a fallen world by saving a bit of humanity to carry on. He symbolized His great grace with a permanent reminder that He would not destroy mankind again in such a way. Grace displayed in a rainbow! Today, rainbows are everywhere—seen prominently as a “pride” symbol for sexual aberration. Apparently, those unfamiliar with the Noah story are unaware of why the Great Flood occurred in the first place!

Another word used to describe God is “awesome.” Singer Rich Mullins penned the very popular worship tune Awesome God in the 1980s. It’s still sung in many churches with frequency. Today, we can find people praising even the smallest of activities as “awesome.” It’s lost its meaning.

One more. There are certainly appropriate times to call something “perfect.” But the other day in a restaurant I ordered a soft drink with my burger and the waitress said, “Perfect.” And said it again several other times with other trivial requests.

Note, however, that “perfect” is another aspect of God’s character. As it is written, “He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! Deuteronomy 32:4 (NLT) Perfect is what makes God holy!

As for me? I’m imperfect. And I surely know it. Like most, I carry the weight of knowing how much I rely on His grace and mercy to keep my soul free. Daily.

But He is worthy of our utmost praise and honor. Greater attention should be paid to words that describe the Living God. And not abuse the language of tribute that rightfully belongs to Him.

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, June 7, 2021

Summer (Re-education) Camps

The summer season is here. Well, as far as the meteorologists are concerned. June 1st marked the first “unofficial” day of summer.

Perhaps this season will be different from last year. Covid-19 shut down most summer activities including trips to the beach, sports stadiums, travel, and a host of other popular warm weather fun. Including…camping.

For a couple of years now, our church leadership team has “retreated” in late fall or early spring to a Salvation Army Camp in Wisconsin. It’s been wonderful. But not for the camp. Their busiest season is summer when hundreds upon hundreds of kids spend a week away from home for “fun in the sun.” But not last year. Many campgrounds and resorts felt incredible pain from the loss of revenue in 2020.

I did some camping growing up, including a week-long Boy Scout camp. It was not my finest moment. Later in life, my best friend in Pittsburgh and I launched what we termed, The Manly Campout. It was a weekend at a remote campground in Maryland with our sons. The first one included about 5 families. It became an annual tradition.

But there’s another kind of camp that is memorable—but not in a good way. These are called, “re-education camps.”

Within the last few years, we’ve learned what these consist of among the Chinese people. It isn’t pretty. And nobody signs up willingly for this camp.

Accurate statistics are hard to come by, but it was estimated that as of 2019, Chinese authorities may have detained up to 1.5 million people for “re-education” purposes. A significant number of these detainees are women. The roundup of these re-trainees includes Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other ethnic Turkic Muslims. And, of course, Christians.

Your stomach might well turn in reading an article like, “China’s ‘Re-Education’ Camps Rape, Abuse, and Torture Women from Religious Minorities.” It’s reported that one woman who spent nine months inside the so-called "re-education" camps recounted how women were raped “every night” by masked Chinese men. The woman herself shared how the Chinese tortured her with electric shocks before being gang-raped by two to three men. Bottom line, it’s abuse of the worst kind.

Reeducation of another kind came to light this year in the good ol’ USA. Back in January, a story surfaced about a mid-level attorney for PBS named Michael Beller. Investigative reporting is of value until conservatives unmask some form of improprieties among liberals. And so it was when Project Veritas caught attorney Beller on tape “describing President Donald Trump as ‘close to Hitler.’” Moreover, he appeared to advocate for forcefully placing the children of Republican voters in “re-education camps.” Heavens to Murgatroyd!!

It was, to say the least, embarrassing. PBS was forced to fire Beller. No doubt he considered it an “innocent” mistake.

If you’re at all paying attention to what’s happening in public education, and all the way through our universities, “re-education” is happening daily. It occurs all throughout the “cancel culture.” It occurs as masses of Americans are indoctrinated into accepting the outrageous requirements of the LGBTQ community to influence both children and adults. We’re witnessing this happening within the church as well.

It is that segment of our society that I am most concerned about. Government shutdowns of church activity were occurring as the coronavirus seeped throughout our nation. Government threats were commonly uncovered. In Canada, they actually closed a church. In our country, some home Bible studies and small groups were told they could not meet.

The view of morality today looks vastly different than it did 70 years ago. We have found ourselves reeducated as cultural values decline. People of faith must be on alert.

We must challenge the “re-education” strategies and tactics in place. Step into the future before it happens. Resist where we can.

In 1 Corinthians 16:13, the apostle Paul tells us, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”  (NLT)

That was almost 2000 years ago! It seems biblical reeducation is what we need most!