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Monday, May 30, 2022

Below the Surface

I hate to admit it, but I’m glad this school year is over. After the events unfolded in Uvalde. Texas, I could not help but pray daily that another crazy attempt to leave even greater carnage at a school would not occur.

The unraveling of details on the timeline of Tuesday's ordeal leaves the grieving and stunned parents asking a myriad of whats and whys. The Texas governor is “livid about being misled" on the actions of law enforcement. Police officials continue to duck and cover themselves as to why they did not engage quicker. It was said law enforcement thought they had time on their side. They didn’t.

What turned Salvador Ramos into a killer? Note what Anthony B. Bradley, professor of religious studies and director of the Center for the Study of Human Flourishing at The King's College said:

"Almost every major school shooter since Columbine suffered from dad-deprivation. It predicts criminal deviance. Sadly, this shooter is a textbook case of a dad-deprived, abused, and neglected kid. Hurt boys hurt others…Boys learn empathy from their fathers. Dad-deprivation in boys often develops into violent rage and suicidal ideation. Bad/absent dads are the pre-condition for boys' violence.”

Bradley said Ramos’ mom was “an abusive, neglectful, drug user.” The two often argued. It helped explain why Salvador reportedly left his mother’s home two months ago to live with his grandmother.

In his column, “School Shootings aren't about Gun Laws but the Collapse of the Family,” John Daniel Davidson of The Federalist offers more. He writes, “So why is it that only now, over the past two decades, do we see the kind of mass shootings we saw this week in Texas? (Governor) Abbott… along with most everyone else in America, knows perfectly well the answer to that question. It has nothing to do with gun technology or gun control laws and everything to do with our corrupt culture, and especially with the collapse of the family.”

Davidson summarizes it this way, “A broken home, no father or father figure in his life, no church or community of any kind, no real friends except those he met through social media. Here we have, in brief sketch, not just a profile of a school shooter, but an indictment of our entire culture.”

Dr. Jim Denison adds further insight. Jim has taught the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries and serves as Resident Scholar for Ethics with Baylor Scott & White Health. I’d recommend reading his column, “What We Know about Gunmen Who Carry Out Mass School Shootings.” (Link below)

Jim’s article includes more nuggets about Ramos’ life. His acquaintances said Ramos frequently missed school and struggled to get along with classmates. Some of those classmates reportedly made fun of his clothes and made crude references to his mother and sister.

Denison reported that “Friends and relatives added that he (Ramos) was bullied over a childhood speech impediment and had lashed out violently against peers and strangers recently and over the years. He had fistfights with peers in middle school and junior high.”

Include another important variable in this: social media. People can bully, insult, and spew hate in a number of ways online. Most people can do little to stop it. Instead, perhaps like Ramos, they announce their intentions to retaliate on social media. And in the case of the recent Buffalo shooter, they transmit video while committing the crime.

Sure, make guns harder to purchase. But a black market will rise up. It already exists. Chicagoans know this. There should be reasonable purchase requirements for guns, of course.

This is a hard proverb: “Don’t envy violent people or copy their ways. Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but he offers his friendship to the godly.” Proverbs 3:31-32 (NLT)

We must focus attention on violent tendencies earlier. Learning to catch those signs and reaching out to help before it’s too late may be our only hope. That’s what I’m hearing.

Somewhere out there, more anger is lurking below the surface.

That’s Forward Thinking. 

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, May 23, 2022

Regressive Progressives

In another week, we will recognize another Memorial Day in our land. We honor those Americans who have given their lives defending the cause of freedom. Worthy souls every one.

In Buffalo, New York, perhaps you read of the former police officer turned security guard who attempted to save people from dying at the TOPS supermarket earlier this month. The 18-year-old shooter had already wasted several lives. He now turned his menacing mind and weapon inside the store. The security guard fired at the killer and hit his target. But body armor deflected the bullets. Instead, the gunman fired back at the security guard, killing him.

The disturbed mind that killed these ten people at the TOPS store got his ideas from somewhere. Was he just a “right wing nut?” Media coverage took us down that path. But this young man said otherwise.

In his written “manifesto,” he admitted to being “a fascist.” And much more. Note this passage:
Are you “right wing”?
Depending on the definition, sure.
Are you “left wing”?
Depending on the definition, sure.
Are you a socialist?
Depending on the definition. Worker ownership of the means of production? It depends on who those workers are, their intentions, who currently owns the means of production, their intentions and who currently owns the state, and their intentions.

It’s clearly established that he was a racist. His moral code for America did not allow for the number of ethnic minorities in our land.

The left wing of American politics cannot believe he has any of their ideals. Why not? Look at the riotous behavior of the pro-abortion crowds. A highly charged liberal-progressive bunch. The Department of Homeland Security recently released a disturbing report showing of “plans” by radical abortion activists. Their intentions? To burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murder justices and their law clerks once the decision overturning Roe v. Wade is released.

Furthermore, the DHS report claimed the pro-abortion extremists would be targeting churches and other places of worship with violence and vandalism. How is that for “soft hearted compassionate patriotism?”

As for the liberal concern for minorities, it depends on the political party to which you belong. The former great running back Herschel Walker is running for office in Georgia. As a Republican.

One liberal commentator began his barrage of attacks against Mr. Walker by writing this in The Nation: “Herschel Walker’s candidacy is a white insult to Black people." Then some dude went on to say on MSNBC, “I make a hard distinction between Black conservatives and these tokens who are out here right now, shucking and jiving for their white handlers.” It was an obvious reference to Senator Tim Scott and Herschel Walker.

We could also look at the insane border policies that have allowed an incredible number of illegals into the U.S. As a result of this and economic woes, President Biden’s approval poll numbers dropped to their lowest level of his presidency—39%—as reported this past week by the Associated Press.

In their report on this, the AP cited comments from members of both parties. Manuel Morales, a Democrat from Moline, Illinois, believes part of the President’s poll problems are a result of immigration policies. (Only 38% polled back Biden on immigration.) Morales is an immigrant himself but believes the U.S. needs more stringent border controls. As he said, “It’s impossible to bring the whole of Central America and Mexico into this country.”

The mantra of many progressives is more often tolerance and acceptance than common sense. The apostle Paul is known for his Corinthians love chapter in the Bible. A bit later he wrote, “Your every action must be done with love.” Corinthians 16:14 (HCSB)

He also gave instruction to think and act with maturity. I fear “progressive" minds in our age are actually regressing in learning the art of love.

That’s Forward Thinking. 

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, May 16, 2022

Will it Arrive in Time?

A question for you. Since the pandemic more fully impacted our American culture, have you noticed any difference in social behavior? If not, consider yourself either blind or blessed.

I’ve read numerous stories over the last year of people acting out their frustrations and anger over many things. Perhaps the latest event that will send mothers into a frenzy is the shortage of baby formula. Why this problem?

Who knows truth in these matters. One Florida legislator said on social media that “They are sending pallets, pallets of baby formula to the border. Meanwhile, in our own district at home, we cannot find baby formula.” This assessment found agreement with the Governor of Texas. Apparently, it's more complex than that. CNN recently described the shortage as resulting from “the perfect storm.”

Think this could get ugly? Just like a shortage of toilet tissue and paper towels, shelves are emptying as mothers try to gobble up what they can of baby formula. Looking out for your neighbor isn’t on the table.

We see the seemingly natural way people choose to look out for themselves in difficult situations in natural disasters or life threatening situations. There are exceptions, of course. Those who sacrifice for others. But more often, concern over shortages drive people to hoard and seek out their own best interest.

In March of this year the Atlantic shared a story titled, “Why are People Acting so Weird?” Do they really mean weird, or somewhat out-of-control? Maybe it’s both.

As the Atlantic reporter pointed out, “During the pandemic, disorderly, rude, and unhinged conduct seems to have caught on…everything from rudeness and carelessness to physical violence.” Americans are driving more recklessly with more crashes and pedestrian deaths. Health-care workers complain about patients who behave badly—even threateningly! It was told that hospitals in Missouri were going to outfit nurses with panic buttons!

In Chicago, we see regular news reports of carjackings and car thefts. It’s happening elsewhere in cities. Murder rates were up in 2020 and 2021.

Experts tend to blame these violent reactions to Covid-induced stress. People can’t get what they want when they want. Everything about their lives changed as the pandemic impacted employment, prices, and the quality of service everywhere.

And then there were those masks. Constant conflict about where one mask would help. Or two. Or three. Or…NO mask. Try enforcing a mask policy on someone who is convinced it doesn’t help at all.

Add to this all those supply chain issues. Maddening.

Much of this behavior seems to be blamed on the increased isolation bred through the pandemic. We’ve become less social. And we’re meant to be social. Perhaps that makes sense. Psalm 18:1 reads, “One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” HCSB

I see another new problem surfacing. It’s in the attitude of people. It’s just not a few non-conformists. I think we’re seeing a rise of people creating their own rules. And their own forms for punishment or retribution.

As the pressures of life mount, perhaps what we’re really seeing is an unveiling of our true selves. At our core, mankind tends to be a sinful, selfish brood. When instability impacts our world and we can’t get what we want, Americans turn nasty. Sometimes violent. Certainly angry. Have we reached that point?

The sins of the flesh. In Galatians 5:19-21 it is written, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (NIV)

Sounds like a litany of life in America these days. Our broken state comes from our broken moral and spiritual lives. Only spiritual transformation will bring us hope. Will it arrive in time?

That’s Forward Thinking. 

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, May 9, 2022

Poor Little Lambs

No doubt you have likely heard the sweet chorus of what is known as The Whiffenpoof Song. It goes…

    We're poor little lambs who have lost our way
    Baa, baa, baa
    We're little black sheep who have gone astray
    Baa, baa, baa

I say you’ve likely heard the song as it’s been recorded by notables such as Bing Crosby, Elvis, Louis Armstrong, and a host of others. Its origins are traced to a Yale Glee Club trip in 1907. The song was created as a humorous response to the poem “Gentleman Rankers” by Rudyard Kipling. It continues to be sung at the end of every Yale concert.

It might well be the theme song for progressives who can’t find their way to moral truth on such topics as abortion and marriage. I cite as a prime example an April 5th, 2022, article in Vogue magazine titled, “Is Monogamy Over? Inside Love’s Sharing Economy.”

As you might surmise, the article begins with a real-life story. It tells of a woman named Megan, who for 15 years was intimate with only her husband. As it was written, “Both children of divorce, Megan and Marty committed to monogamy, vowing—especially after their children were born—that their marriage would last forever.” Apparently, that commitment began to weaken.

They tried being more creative on dinner dates – even pretending not to know each other. But then they started fantasizing about being “swingers.” The unraveling of their monogamous relationship began. 

Marty explained it this way, “One person can’t be everything for someone else. It was clear that my all was not good enough.”

Baa. Baa. Baa.

This couple is not alone in pursuing “CNM” —consensual non-monogamy. The Vogue article cites a national survey conducted by the firm YouGov in 2020 revealing only 56 percent of respondents claimed complete monogamy as their ideal relationship style. And what’s more, “an estimated 23 percent of respondents said their relationships were already non-monogamous!”

Where do such things lead legally? In June of 2020, Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, passed the country’s first known municipal ordinance recognizing polyamorous relationships. It granted the same legal rights as married monogamous couples to three or more people. Two other neighboring communities chose to follow suit in 2021.

There are voices who warned of the consequences. One of them was the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. We have lived to see his portrayal of the soon to follow “slippery slope” as our standards would drop.
Faithful Bible readers would readily know that many men in the Bible had multiple wives. Even concubines. Discerning Bible readers would also see that in Genesis, Adam and Eve are created to be man and wife. One man. One wife. That is God’s marriage plan and confirmed by Jesus’ words in Mark 10:6-9:

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (NIV)

No provision exists for multiple marriage partners (or unmarried partners.)

Perhaps the final verse of the Whiffenpoof Song bears repeating in light of how far we’ve strayed in the right thinking on marriage:

    Gentleman songsters off on a spree
    Doomed from here to eternity
    Lord have mercy on such as we
    Baa, baa, baa

It might have been the Glee Club who came up with this song. But the truth it bears in our day is anything but gleeful. Particularly with consensual non-monogamy.

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, May 2, 2022

Just Hanging Around ...

Thank God it’s….Monday!! Who says that? The real battle cry in the workplace is usually “Thank God it’s Friday!!” And if you’ve got a three- or four-day weekend ahead, I guess this is as close to work heaven as some people get.

Imagine though, if on Friday the “boss” came up and said, “I know how much you look forward to weekends and time off. I have good news for you! You don’t have to come in Monday. Or any future Monday. You’ve been replaced by a robot!” Most people would not reply with, “Thank God it’s Friday!”

In my world growing up, everyone I knew anticipated that they were headed into the workplace to do…something. Figuring out what that was and how to get there were the challenges. And certainly, you hoped the work was meaningful and rewarding.

To advance, we were encouraged to set goals. To put in extra effort. To show we cared. In other words, to work hard.

Perhaps those are bygone days. Vox magazine recently published a series of articles in an issue they called, "The Future of Work." One article I was particularly drawn to was titled, “Gen Z does not dream of labor.”

Who fits in “Gen Z?” The Pew Research Center decided a couple of years ago to use 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials. That meant anyone born between 1981 and 1996 would be considered a Millennial. Anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation. Thus – Gen “Z.”

What characteristics define these folks? McKinsey and Company published their research and wrote, “Our study…reveals four core Gen Z behaviors, all anchored in one element: this generation’s search for truth. Gen Z’ers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. That is why…Gen Z is ‘True Gen.’”

But hold on. It seems that these Z-meisters have other ways of thinking, too. Especially worked related. As shared in the Vox article, “On TikTok and online, the youngest workers are rejecting work as we know it.” As one viral TikTok rant said, “I don’t have goals. I don’t have ambition. I only want to be attractive.” (Well, don’t we all!)

Heere’s another gem from the TikTok crowd: “I don’t want to be a girlboss. I don’t want to hustle…I simply want to live my life slowly and lay down in a bed of moss with my lover and enjoy the rest of my existence reading books, creating art, and loving myself and the people in my life.”

How did I possibly miss the boat on this style of life?? It might have had to do with raising a family!! Hello, real world!

The Vox article has several juicy tidbits that educate us on this new way of thinking. Or not thinking. You’ll find the link below.

Perhaps these TikTokker-GenZ people checked out the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. There you will find ample frustrations by the author – likely Solomon – that a life of vexation is not worth living. “‘Futility of futilities,’ says the Teacher, ‘futility of futilities! Everything is futile!’ What does a man gain from all his labor, at which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (Berean)

A few chapters later we find, "So, I'm all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth."  The Message, referring to Ecclesiastes 8:15.

Of course, the Preacher did not sit around on his duff all day hoping to be attractive. Apparently, he already was. Instead, he worked like a dog—perhaps as hard as anyone (or more) in his day. And accumulated mucho stuff.

The do-nothing, no-ambition lifestyle will leave a huge void if adopted. Like—no food. No cars. No heat or air conditioning, etc. And worst of all, no TikTok!!

Hmmm…let me think about that—while I lie here waiting to become handsome. (No comments, please.)

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: