Friday, September 24, 2021

Grasp for a handhold, or reach for the strong hand?

When I was young I was bold to climb or descend a steep hillside when hiking in rough country. Perhaps overconfident I would scramble up for a better view of my surroundings, or down to get a close look at a flowering shrub. I often was startled to discover that a stone I grasped to pull myself up came loose and required me to shift quickly to another hoped-for support, or that a ledge I put my foot on crumbled and fell away. I feel that way about the affairs, the culture of our nation today. Things that always seemed firm come loose and leave me scrambling for another handhold or foothold. 

Trust in Jesus Christ, my new-found faith of forty years, keeps me moving with trembling assurance to the high ground where the view is bright and fresh, and the flowering shrubs may be enjoyed in peace and safety. Politics, law, and even reasonable financial security are not leading me to the grand vista and the beautiful life I desire, but gripping the hand of Jesus Christ is bringing the vista and the beauty closer and helping me continue the climb. My prayer is, when my view of the path threatens to be obscured by passions or fears, that Christ will keep my hand in his firm grasp and even squeeze it reassuringly while we move ahead.

Morning, September 24, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

The New Sin of the Day

Our western culture seems increasingly self-righteous. News media, entertainment, and social media seem to have made prosecutors, judges and jurors of us all. 

People regularly invent new “sins.” Others insist we focus on the sins they consider most serious while ignoring others. 

For example, to disagree with a new sexual ideology is a sin some think must be prosecuted aggressively. And one may be excoriated for failing to fight climate change with all consuming devotion.  

In short, by putting ourselves in the place of God we regularly create new causes for conflict and alienation. Not a good way to create a more united America or world. 

Isn’t it worthwhile to pause and try learning whether or not there is a God, and whether he has already spoken on such subjects? Then to seriously consider and act on what he has said?


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stolen Election? The Opinion of an Old Prosecutor

Charges that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from President Trump have inspired reckless anger and violence in America. It is highly improbable that the election was stolen because the President could prove it if proof were available. 

A President has operatives in every federal judicial district of the United States. I mean, he appoints United States Attorneys in every one of the 94 federal judicial districts throughout the United States and territories. They serve at his pleasure. They would have reported any widespread election fraud to him through his Department of Justice. I have not heard of any such reports.

As an Assistant U.S. Attorney many years ago, I learned that among the duties of an assistant was to work late on election nights to receive reports of election misconduct. Reports might come directly to us during the day or night. More often they came to the FBI and the FBI contacted us for the go-ahead to conduct a preliminary inquiry. These resulted in a record being made that was available if a major investigation should be launched. The current Justice Manual of the U.S. Department of Justice reveals that similar procedures remain in place.

In the conflict over the 2020 presidential election results, I have not heard Justice Department records cited in support of widespread election fraud. Every United States Attorney (there are 94 ) would have reported evidence of significant election misconduct to Washington. It's their job. Moreover, all U.S. Attorneys stand to lose their jobs if the incumbent president is defeated. Again, if significant evidence of widespread election fraud existed, the President would know about it and presumably would cite it to bolster his complaint that the election was stolen. 

Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press on December 1, 2020 that the Department of Justice had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election outcome.

I have heard of no United States Attorney reports cited in support of the President's claim so I conclude his claim of a stolen election is unsupported. What about malicious computer software?  I have heard the dramatic allegations that subversive computer software may have altered votes but I have not heard that any authority has substantiated them.

So, what should disappointed Americans do? If one’s candidate lost the election, he or she should focus on putting together a winning slate for next time. 

Douglas Smith, 2-13-2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel

Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge (Nashville, W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2019)


Nerves of Steel is a story about a smart, persistent woman penetrating a man’s world and becoming a Navy fighter pilot and later an airline captain who saved over 140 lives in a catastrophic in-flight explosion. What makes the story interesting is seeing how her upbringing in a happy family led Tammie Jo Bonnelle (later Captain Tammie Jo Shults) to acquire the discipline that shaped important decisions in her eventful life. The story begins in childhood on her family’s ranch and concludes dramatically with her piloting a barely controllable airliner to a safe landing after the explosion of an engine breached the side of her Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet. She shows how challenges and obstacles in her career also blessed her, training her to think and act wisely where prospects for a good outcome looked dim. Key to dealing with seemingly hopeless situations was the Christian faith she acquired as a girl in summer camp. This faith led her to trust God for the outcome and not rely solely on her (considerable) personal and professional skills. 


Note: Military and Aviation Terminology. Having served in the Air Force, I felt comfortable with the author’s occasional use of military and aviation terminology and acronyms. She was thoughtful to provide a “Quick Reference Guide for Military Terminology” in an appendix.  Like any reader, the military terminology guide “put me in the picture” when my military and aviation memory was faded or incomplete. When using specific aviation terms, she typically added a parenthetical explanation in the main text.