America’s Changing Melting Pot


So here’s a thought, but first, consider these statistics:

In 2016, in 26 states, the number of non-Hispanic whites who died was greater than the number of non-Hispanic whites who were born in those states, according to an analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau that was released last week. The 26 states were a diverse group in terms of geography and demographics, from Maine to Alabama to California. Nationwide in 2016, there were 0.98 births for every death among non-Hispanic whites, a rate lower than that of blacks (1.71), Asians (3.87) and Latinos (4.88).

I have seen numbers like these before on a national scale. We are tottering on the edge of population regression. People get married less, marry later, have fewer children, and these factors contribute to our population decline – at least among white Americans. Most European countries are well beyond us in this population regression cycle.

Blacks, Asians, Latinos and others have more children than whites do. If the trend continues, whites will become the minority as compared to non-whites. My children went to a school district in which whites are already the minority.

So what are the implications of this development?

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School Shootings: Seeking the Why

Depositphotos ID: 87889252 Copyright: creatista (editorial use only)

Another school shooting has occurred, this time in Maryland at the Great Mills High School. (See the CNN report: Armed student dead after he shoots 2 others at Maryland high school, sheriff says). Some people will herald this incident as a vindication of gun rights because the shooter was taken down by an armed resource officer in the school. I will leave that debate to others. I want to focus on why school shootings are happening in the first place.

Yes, we can say school shootings are happening because of guns, but guns are not the whole story. Guns are not the root cause. Guns have been ubiquitously part of the fabric of American life going back to the Revolutionary War and before. Guns were accessible in our country throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s, but there was never an indiscriminate, mass school shooting until 1966 when an engineering student holed up in a tower in Austin, TX and began shooting at passersby on the campus below.

Within months a copycat shooting took place in Mesa, AZ by another individual who spoke about inspiration from the Austin shooter and a serial killer. (See A Brief History of Indiscriminate School Shootings in the US) Copycat inspiration is a likely source of motivation for indiscriminate, mass school shootings, but copycat inspiration doesn’t explain why. Why would anyone be inspired to emulate such an example as a school shooting?

Regardless of whatever we decide as a society to do about guns, we need to ask why!

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The Lost Boys with Guns

Depositphotos Image ID: 184293546 Copyright: belchonock

In the wake of another tragic school shooting and re-ignition of the flames of impassioned debate over guns and gun control, some people have dared to suggest we have problems other than guns. They get shot down pretty quickly now, as it seems we just can’t ignore the gun problem we have. Yes, I have been reluctant to say it… we have a gun problem.

But, we have more problems than guns. Mental health may be an issue, but statistics suggest that the United States has no greater incidence of mental health problems than the rest of the world. Maybe the incidence of mental health problems isn’t the problem. Maybe the problem is the way we treat it (or don’t treat it as the case may be).

But that isn’t the only problem either. We assume that anyone who shoots up a school playground is crazy, but that is a dangerous assumption. We think that they are “not like us”, but history suggests we might be fooling ourselves. Given the right factors, circumstances and pressures, any one of us might do things we could never imagine.

The Holocaust wasn’t just the result of a despot few. It took a nation of “regular people” to allow it to happen. If the Holocaust happened in the US today (not suggesting it will), your neighbors would be going off to work this morning to the concentration camps, gas chambers and sterile government offices that allowed genocide to become a national industry. It could very well be us, given the right mix of circumstances and pressures.

The gun problem in the United States isn’t likely the result of a single problem. Reality is more complicated than that. Rather, a confluence of factors and circumstances have come together to create this perfect storm – this phenomenon that is unique in the civilized world.

Among the factors, I speculate, is the history of gun rights that is unparalleled in any other country. Gun ownership is an individual right in the United States. It’s even built into our Constitution. No other country has that history.

But, I don’t think the availability of guns or mental health or or our history, pick your pet theory, are the only issues. School shootings are a recent phenomenon. The first school shooting took place in 1966, and the incidents of indiscriminate school shootings have risen exponentially in the last 20-30 years. Something else is going on.

We tend to let ourselves fall into the trap of false dichotomies: it’s either guns or not guns. Yes it is! Not it’s not!

Like schoolyard banter, nothing gets accomplished because each side is too busy defending their own side of the argument, and too stubborn to concede anything to the “other side”, so we don’t get anywhere. Nothing gets done. We end up with no resolve and no solutions.

I am not anti-gun, but I am here to say I am willing to listen to reasonable measures to limit gun ownership. We have to do that. It’s a numbers game. The more guns that are available for more people to get a hold of, the more likely it is that guns will end up in the hands of people who are dangerous. I am willing to listen to the people who say we have a mental health problem. I am willing to consider other issues and solutions.

But there is problem that few people are talking about it: it’s a problem with our boys. When was the last time a girl was involved in a school shooting? How about a mass shooting of any kind? Girls and women have been involved in school shootings, but school shootings are overwhelmingly committed by boys and men.

It’s past time that we started talking in earnest about what has happened to our boys!

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The Gap between the Death of Jesus and Explosion of the Church

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What happened in the gap between the death of Jesus on the cross and the explosion of the early church? Christians, of course, will say it was the resurrection of Jesus, but skeptics will naturally question that answer.

Most western skeptics doubt (or are convinced) that miracles (like rising from the dead) simply do not happen. Most skeptics dismiss the New Testament accounts out of hand. Fifty years ago, skeptic scholars were convinced that the resurrection idea developed as a legend over time, generations after Jesus died.

Thus, an appropriate question as we approach another Easter is this: what accounts for the rapid spread of the following of a man who, by all legitimate accounts, died a cruel, shameful and certain death?

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Bible as History

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The Bible is an historical document. The Old Testament chronicles the encounters and relationships of the people who descend from a man named Abraham who came from the region of Ur, which is currently southwest Iraq. Many people dismiss the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, as religious myth, but historical and geographical references suggest there is more to the Bible than myth.

The focus of the Old Testament is on the purported relationship of these people to their God, and most of the detail involves the relational aspect of these people to God, themselves and other people. In the course of this chronicle, many historical details are given.

If the Bible were all myth, the historical details would not add up. Indeed, many people, including some eminent archaeologists and historians, discount the historical and archaeological value of the Bible.  Many of the historical details, however, have been borne out by historical and archaeological evidence. One example is King Hezekiah’s tunnel.

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