Praying Grace Reviews

I was blessed and encouraged to see the following review of Praying Grace from “Gail,” a verified buyer, on it’s Amazon page:

I am at the 6th devotion and the knowledge and understanding I have gleaned from just these 6 readings and declarations have changed my life.
This book is erasing the years of misconception and wrong thinking that have been planted in my mind through misguided teachings and sermons I have heard over the years.
By devotion number 4, I had to purchase 2 of these books as gifts for my children. The simplicity with which David Holland unravels the mystery of the way we ought to pray, to decree, and to declare makes this book a ’must-read ’ for everyone.

So grateful to those who have been recommending and sharing Praying Grace on social media. It means the world.

One Additional Point About the Bill Gates Conspiracy Theories

Sorry. That last post ran on for more than 3,000 words and I ultimately needed to put it, and my poor readers, out of their misery. But there is one additional point I think it’s important to make about the many accusations and innuedoes being directed at Mr. Gates. But first . . .

Would you like to guess what country currently has the fastest growing population in the world?

Poor, civil-war-ravaged Syria.

In second place? Angola. Which, not coincidentally, also has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world year after year. Third, fourth and fifth fastest growing populations belong to Malawi, Burundi, and Chad.

In fact, every one of the top 35 countries with the highest rates of populaton growth are all poor, war-torn, drought-stricken, or all three, and have appallingly high rates of death of children under five.

That’s a little counter-intuitive isn’t it? That the places where children die the most are the places producing the most children?

On the other end of that spectrum are most of the developed countries of the world, where population growth rates have been flattening out for decades now. In fact quite a few rich, Western nations are now experiencing negative population growth. In other words, people aren’t having enough babies to replace the people who are dying.

There is a single dynamic driving the results on both ends of this continuum.

Over the last hundred years it has become evident that in places where mothers are unsure that their babies are going to survive into adulthood, they tend to have a lot more babies. It’s a form of insurance that at least a couple of them will live to take care of them when they are elderly.

Conversely, when mothers live in a culture that makes them confident their kids aren’t going to die from starvation, disease, war, or natural calamity, they have fewer children. A LOT fewer.

As standards of living have risen all over the world, birth rates have plummeted. Those two things are tightly linked. This is well understood.

The replacement rate in most modern, Western nations is an average of 2.3 children per family. Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere have already fallen below that replacement level. Thus, their populations are shrinking.

Here’s what all the above has to do with what people are carelessly sharing about Bill Gates.

Many of the terrible and terrifying conspiracy theories being circulated contain the implication (and often the explicit assertion) that Gates advocates reducing earth’s population by arranging for lots of people to die.

If you haven’t seen these, good on you. I won’t link to that garbage, but they’re out there.

These videos and articles invariably contain a short quote, clip, or exerpt in which Gates points to high birth rates in poor countries as a problem that needs to be addressed.

Well, the Internet has given me trust issues.

I’ve learned not to believe anyone’s characterization of what someone else says or thinks. I now make it a practice to go to the full, un-edited sources of what is being excerpted and characterized . . . especially if the excerpter or characterizer is being critical. And SUPER especially so if the characterizer is accusing someone of plotting mass murder or a world dictatorship takeover.

So I went to the originals of Gates’ comments in his speeches, and the source documents on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation web site. And guess what I discovered . . .

In every single case I researched, Gates was speaking about population in the context of that phenomenon I described above. The one about how women have fewer children when fewer of their babies routinely die of preventable diseases, starvation, or nasty water.

Specifically, Gates is saying we need to take measures to reduce infant and child mortality, and raise the standards of living of the poor in these countries, and that doing so will result in their population growth leveling off.

So just let the full reality of this sink in for a moment . . .

A person who is funding efforts to find ways to see fewer mothers bury their infants, is having his words about those efforts surgically edited to validate speculation that he wants lots of currently living people, to die.

Welcome to Internet 2020.

Look, I have no interest in defending Gates’ politics. We clearly disagree. Nor do I care to defend his plans. I can’t speak to whether they’re wise or a waste of his money. A lot of them are based on questionable left-of center presuppositions.

I know that some of the initiatives he funds promote birth control, which is a non-starter for all my Roman Catholic friends. And some orgs he’s funding almost certainly want to provide abortion, which is, of course, appalling to me. I’ve spent my entire adult life in the Pro-Life cause.

What I am interested in is justice, mercy, humility, and truth. And not just for “my side.” And that means it’s not okay to traffic in sensationalistic lies and distortions that are not only inaccurate, but in some cases the opposite of the truth. Distortions that are frequently embraced and spread willy-nilly by good people in my own tribe.

It hurts our credibility. It hurts our cause. It’s just . . . wrong.

And “The other side does it,” isn’t a valid plea. So, please, please, please keep two things in mind at all times when you’re online.

  1. The internet is filled with content cleverly designed to manipulate you. Most is designed to make money doing so. Clicks + Page Views + Shares = $$$$.
  2. The rest is designed to advance an agenda. To get you to hate what they hate. To fear what they fear. To oppose what they oppose. To make their enemy, your enemy too.

Countless “alternative news” web sites have emerged with that one goal in mind. Shun them. And when you can’t, don’t believe a word you’ve read without remembering the two points above.

It goes without saying that you can’t trust anything the mainstream “legitimate” news sources say either. It’s unfortunate. Both of the above warnings equally apply to CNN, Reuters, and The Washington Post, as well.

Most of the information on the “alternative news” sites is positioned as being provided with the noble goal of “opening our eyes” to what’s really going on. That should sound familiar to believers . . .

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4

This is not fun to write. Believe me, I’d much rather encourage and entertain than reprove and rebuke, but we’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be manuipulated. But I’m mindful that Paul told the believers in Corinth that they have thousands of “teachers” but not many fathers. (1 Cor. 4:15)

So, please just consider this some loving fatherly advice.

Thoughts on the Pandemic, Part 2

… or is that just what they WANT you to think?

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts about the psychology of this pandemic. Specifically how a person’s political philosphy profoundly influences the way he or she thinks the government should be handling this situation.

Toward the end, I promised you a take on the numerous conspiracy theories and rumors circulating about all this.

So here goes, fasten your seatbelt. This is going to be a long and winding journey. And I’m almost certainly going to offend two-thirds to three-quarters of everyone who reads this.

Feathers will be ruffled. Oxes will be gored! Sacred cows will be tipped over!!!

High-impact events like this pandemic invariably generate wave after wave of wild rumors and speculation.

You may recall that within hours of the 9/11 attacks—long before the advent of social media, mind you— the internet was lousy with bizarre rumors and malicious reports about groups of celebrating Jews; 4,000 “Israelis” who were warned not to show up for work that morning; and a missile rather than a jet hitting the Pentagon. 

After the dust (literally) settled, we got exotic, hyper-complex theories about some secretive U.S. agency or rogue quasi-governmental group lacing the twin towers with explosives and dynamiting the adjacent 7 World Trade Center. According to these “9/11 was an Inside Job” narratives, George W. Bush, or people within his administration, masterminded the attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq because . . . oil. Or revenge. Or Illuminati secret handshake, or something.

I Make People Crazy

A not-insignificant chunk of America convinced itself that Vice-President Cheney and the Halliburton corporation were part of some sort of vast powerful cabal bent on ushering in {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

I also recall my amusement at discovering that President George W. Bush’s habit of exchanging “hook ’em horns” hand gestures with fellow Texans during his presidency was viewed as incontrovertible proof to some that he was leading an Illuminati conspiracy to take over the world and {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

You think I’m joking?

Whole lakes of digital ink were spilled during the Bush 43 years assuring those who were already predisposed to dislike “W” that he was literally in league with the devil.

I could fill an entire book with reasons why each of these claims are bat-guano crazy. But it’s not necessary because time and history have already rendered them ridiculous. 

But at the time, many people bought in in a big, big way.

Of course, the Kennedy assassination produced its own crop of crackpot theorizing. Various elaborate theories made a case for laying the blame squarely at the feet of: The Mafia, the Soviets, Castro/Cuba, Lyndon Johnson, the Illuminati (hello again!), and whoever “Umbrella Man” was working with.

Who is “Umbrella Man” you ask? So glad you asked!!! Several years ago, on the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I wrote a blog post debunking this particular conspiracy theory, and used it as a springboard to share some thoughts about conspiracy theories in general. You can read, “Kennedy, Umbrella Man, and my Crackpot Theory of Frozen Moment Anomolies” at your liesure.

This tendency to see big, sinister, mysterious forces driving random events isn’t a modern phenomenon, however. We see it throughout history. Why?

Because this is a product of fallen human nature. That “fall” happened because we couldn’t resist eating from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we’re still suckers for the dangled promise of esoteric “knowledge” today.

As with the Kennedy killing and 9/11, there is something deep in our hardwiring that simply refuses to believe that history-making events can result from the actions of one deranged individual, a handful of fanatics, or incompetence.

Or that, because Creation itself was twisted in the fall, that nature sometimes throws us random curveballs like mutating bat viruses or long droughts.

Or that, because water vapor is a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels, that high flying jets in the stratosphere naturally leave trails of frozen water crystals rather than being the result of a global program of spraying mind control or infertility chemicals over whole populations. (If you haven’t encountered a “Chemtrails” true believer, you’ve missed a treat.)

Or that vaccine developers might actually be motivated by a genuine interest in ending preventable diseases. Which brings me to my actual topic.

In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates gave a now-famous (infamous) Ted Talk in which he warned that we as a nation or a world are not anywhere near being prepared for the next pandemic. No one paid much attention at the time, but now that talk is being trotted out as “Exhibit A” in conspiracy theories that have been widely embraced and shared by good people who ought to know better.

Those theories would lead you to assume that Bill Gates was virtually the only one warning about a pandemic back then, and therefore his warning is highly suspicious. 

The fact is, hundreds of disparate voices have been delivering that same warning for a couple of decades now. Especially since the SARS epidemic of 2006.

I routinely read a lot of science magazines and blogs, and over the last 15 years I’ve personally read scores of pieces warning about a coming pandemic that would most likely emerge from a mutating animal virus or a mutation of an existing influenza strain.

Gates is only one of many voices that have been sounding the alarm. For example, President George W. Bush was deeply concerned about our nation’s lack of preparedness for a viral pandemic. Here’s a warning he issued back in 2005!

And here’s a Scientific American article from October of 2011: How an Interconnected Planet Is Fueling the Brewing Viral Storm

I could cite hundreds of other examples. Thousands actually. So, rather than being clear evidence of a plot by shadowy figures, the appearance of the pandemic was actually overdue. We had been fortunate with SARS and H1N1.

My point is that it is wildly irresponsible and deceptive to point to Bill Gates’ past concerns about a viral pandemic as if it was some sort of smoking gun linking him to a sinister plot to depopulate the planet.

But being wildly irresponsible and deceptive is the fastest track to attention in our current culture. And attention is the new gold. It pays.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Gates really has spent billions on various life-saving and life-enhancing initiatives over the last 20 years just to disguise the fact that he’s secretly some sort of real-life Bond villain who paid to have Covid-19 created in a Chinese lab to wreck the global economy and kill millions of poor people because . . . well because that’s what evil-genius-super-villains do.

Gates recently pledged $250 million to help fund research into finding a Covid-19 vaccine. This, too, is supposed to be viewed as highly suspicious behavior according to the conspiracy peddlers.

What they often neglect to mention is that the Gates Foundation passed out roughly two BILLION dollars in grants for fighting malaria over the last few years. And had just pledged another billion to malaria research shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak became news. And threw vast sums of money at a wide range of other health and education initiatives.

That’s a pretty strange thing to do if you’re about to hit the launch button on your world depopulation scheme from your secret underground volcano lair.

Look, I know that Gates is a liberal Democrat. A lot of elites are. But, unlike billionaire George Soros who sinks hundreds of millions each year into trying to sway U.S. elections and funds scores of online liberal propaganda outlets—Gates instead spends his billions on battling diseases and trying to improve the quality of life of the poor in developing countries–particularly women and girls.

The monster.

It feels a little strange to feel bad for a billionaire, but I really do feel for the guy. Gates decides to spend his remaining years and vast fortune trying to improve people’s lives in his own liberal, humanist-y way, and for his trouble, sees himself portrayed as a cartoon cross between Thanos and Emperor Palpatine.

By the way, if you’re a billionaire and really interested in seeing lots of people die in Third World countries, here’s what you do . . .

Nothing. You just sit back and count your money and sail around on a mega-yacht like most billionaires do.

What you don’t do is sink three billion buckazoids into halting the number one killer of humans in history . . . mosquito-borne diseases like malaria.

Still with me? God bless you. Then let’s move on to the other creative theory getting a lot of Facebook traction right now . . .

The “Plandemic”

I’ll be blunt and to the point.

This “presentation” is an opportunistic casserole of deception—a 26-minute bouillabaisse of distortions, errors, innuendos, and dots that can’t legitimately be connected.

One of the voices I’ve come to trust the most since all this virus-y stuff started is that of Chris Von Csefalvay (I have no idea how to prounounce that name. But I think it’s kr-ih-s.) Csefalvay is “an epidemiologist with a specialisation in the virology of bat-borne illnesses, including filoviruses and bat related coronaviruses.” He’s also spent time on the ground in West Africa a few years ago doing battle with Ebola.

He’s non-political, rational, reasonable, and knows what he’s talking about. If you’re interested in real, objective science about the Covid-19 outbreak, I recommend that you follow him on Twitter: @chrisvcsefalvay.

As a public service, he viewed the Plandemic documentary and closed a very long thread in which he refuted and rebutted each the program’s assertions one by one, with this:

It’s not a documentary, it’s a scientific trainwreck of a screed by a disgraced researcher who wanted another go at fifteen minutes of fame. Consume in small doses with whiskey and your blood pressure medication of choice.

You can read the whole thread here:

Back to the Garden

Look, the easiest lie to fall for is the one that confirms or validates what you already think. The easiest scam to be suckered into is the one you need to be real. The one that validates your preferred narrative. These are facts of human nature that have kept con men in business since the dawn of history.

In fact, the very first con man, a Serpent, exploited this very principle. He whispered, “The authorities are holding out on you, Eve. The elites are keeping secrets from you. Why? Because THEY know that if you eat of this tree, you’ll become like them!”

All these millennia later, we still keep falling for the line.

Get a Razor-Sharp Mind

So in the age of the internet—when anyone with a Macbook, an iphone, and an ax to grind against a perceived enemy can build a YouTube video and see it shared and viewed millions of times on Facebook and Twitter—how can you separate fact from fiction? How can you keep from being duped by the slick propagandists?

Well, I’ve found two logic tools quite useful on this front. They are known as Occam’s Razor and Hanlon’s Razor.

In philosophy, a “razor” is a logical tool that cuts away clutter and distractions so the thinker can identify the truth, or at least the most likely candidate for the truth.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor takes it’s name from a 13th century Franciscan monk and philosopher named William of Ockham. His razor can be paraphrased like this: “When presented with multiple, competing explanations for an event or phenomenon, the simplest explanation is likely to be the correct one.”

Let’s apply Occam’s Razor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Confession: I’ve spent more hours than I’m comfortable admitting watching YouTube videos that breathlessly unwind exotic labyrinthine explanations of what really happened on 9/ll.)

There are dozens of crazy-hiney 9/11 conspiracy theories out there but let’s pick the one that got the most traction.

Option 1: “9/11 was an Inside Job.” George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had only been in the White House for eight months AND had gotten a very late start on building their governing team because the “Florida Hanging Chads” election outcome vs. Al Gore paralyzed the transition process for weeks following the election in November of 2000.

Nevertheless, Bush-Cheney Evil Inc. quickly set about secretly lacing the internal steel skeletal structure of the twin towers of the World Trade Center with the explosive Thermite, and did so without any of the thousands of people who worked in the buildings taking notice.

At the same time, they set about recruiting (or tricking) 19 Middle Easterners who had overstayed their visas during the Clinton administration and who were affiliated with an organization (Al Qaeda) –the same organization that had already tried once to blow up one of the towers back in 1993.

Then, instead, of just blowing up the twin towers and pointing the finger at Al Qaeda, they got the 19 Arabs to hijack four commercial airliners, fly them into the towers, the Pentagon (unless that one was a missile), and either the White House or the Capitol building, in order to create a pretense for invading Afghanistan (which has no oil) and later Iraq, which has oil but because there is a global market in oil, getting control of the Iraqi oil fields actually made no financial sense for anyone.

This “false flag” attack would humiliate the U.S., embolden and encourage terrorist organizations all over the world, and cripple the U.S. economy. But, we’re told, Bush, a seemingly decent human being, signed off on all of this for murky, New World Order reasons.

Option 2: Al Qaeda Did It. After trying and failing to bring down one of the towers in 1993, Al Qaeda—led by Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—set about formulating a plan to hijack commercial airliners and fly them into highly symbolic targets. After several years of planning and preparation, the plan was executed and was 3/4 successful. Three of four hijacked aircraft reached their targets.

For reasons that are now well-understood by engineers, the unique structural architecture of the Twin Towers made them susceptible to a pancaking collapse in the presence of an intensely hot fire.

Occam’s Razor says pick the simplest explanation. (Tha’t’s Door #2!) And indeed, the more the facts of those events were uncovered and analyzed in the years that followed, the more Option 2 has been validated and confirmed. In fact, we learned a few years ago that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after a little waterboarding, sang like a canary and exposed the entire plan in minute detail.

But you would have landed on the correct explanation years earlier simply by applying Occam’s Razor.

Hanlon’s Razor

There is another logic tool in your arsenal for separating crackpot theories from the truth. Hanlon’s Razor. My paraphrase of this axiom goes like this:

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Put another way, don’t infer some shadowy, nefarious plot if what you’re seeing can be reasonably explained by someone being a nincompoop.

My favorite example of a failure to apply Hanlon’s Razor is from the old Seinfeld series. Jerry’s “Uncle Leo” is served a hamburger that is slightly overcooked and he immediately perceives anti-Semitism.

“They don’t just OVERCOOK a hamburger, Jerry.”

A lot of us do the same thing today—individually and collectively. Some local agency or bureau overcharges me for something and I instantly conclude that I’m being targeted and persecuted by faceless liberal bureacrats for my political beliefs.

Ummm no. Someone probably made a mistake.

The same is true on a global scale. Humans are too frail, neurotic, prone to mistakes, gaffes, slip-ups, getting drunk and spilling their guts, and oversights—too forgetful, too susceptible to jealousy, envy, and spite—to pull off one one-thousandth of what we suspect is going on out there in the dark shadows.

Say, hypothetically, that you’re presented two theories about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.

The first one posits that an unusual bat virus was being studied in a Wuhan lab and, through carelessness or stupidity, some overworked and under-rested grad student allowed it to escape the laboratory.

The second one suggests that an international cabal of leftist elites, working in concert with the Chinese government, paid to have the virus custom built and then released (in the heart of China for some reason) all in order to spoil President Trump’s chances of being re-elected. Their determination to get Trump out of the White House was so fierce, they were willing to kill millions and risk a global recession, or even a depression, in order to damage his re-election chances. And this, seemed the best strategy for accomplishing this goal.

If you’re evaluating those two, or a half-dozen other hypotheses, Hanlon’s Razor will serve you well.

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

(By the way, the newest, best analyses have almost completely ruled out the possibility of a lab origin for Covid-19. We’re back to the “wet markets” of Wuhan as the most likely suspect.)

Summing Up (Finally!)

I don’t often make dogmatic statements or issue money-back guarantees, but I’ll offer a few right here. After applying Occam’s Razor, Hanlon’s Razor, a decent knowledge of history, and a biblical understanding of human nature, I am prepared to make the following declarations with complete confidence:

1. The Covid-19 virus is not the product of a plot to take down Trump.

To be sure, opportunists are trying to use it to that end. But those who despise the President were going to use ANYTHING the universe presented to them to that end. An earthquake, a hurricane, an assassination, a sudden increase in the price of taco seasoning . . . anything and everything negative was going to be laid at the feet of Mr. Trump by his enemies. It just so happens what they got was the biggest world crisis since World War II.

Just because someone finds it useful, doesn’t mean that person caused it. What we’re seeing is the old left-wing axiom of, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.

2. The Covid-19 virus is not a plot by Bond Villain billionaire elites to use a vaccine to {fill in whatever you’re against here.}

Most of all. . . I PROMISE you, any vaccine that is developed to protect people from this disease is NOT a secret device to trick you into accepting the mark of the beast.

I could write another 10,000 words explaining why I know that . . . or you can just trust me on this one.

Back away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You’ll find more nourishing fruit elsewhere.

Thoughts on the Pandemic; Part 1

In Africa, they’re dealing with locusts AND Covid-19

Well, since I can’t promote my new book because no one can buy it right now, because “virus,” I might as well weigh in on the biggest news story since 9/11.  (Update: Books are finally available, wherever amazingly awesome books are sold. Like here.)

My weight on this issue is about 1.25 micrograms, because I am completely uncredentialed, unqualified, and unequipped to know much about what’s going on. (Which puts me in the same boat as 99.99% of the other people expressing strong opinions online and on television right now.)

What follows are a few random thoughts and observations as of Sunday morning, April 19, 2020. By April 20, some of these thoughts will almost certainly have been modified. 

1. This virus caught us unprepared. But it shouldn’t have.

We’ve had smart, knowledgeable people warning us for years that we’d dodged bullets with outbreaks like H1N1, H5N1, and other mutations of the flu. I tend to read lots of science blogs and I’ve seen scores of warnings over the last 15 or 20 years—warnings that anticipated the very thing we’re facing right now.  

(Which makes it both hilarious and kind of sad that some people think Bill Gates’ TedTalk warning a few years ago consitutes some sort of smoking gun that he helped create the Covid-19 virus. More on conspiracy theories in my next post.)

Nevertheless, we weren’t remotely ready when this thing popped up in China and started spreading around the planet via airliners and cruise ships. So, we needed to buy some time to hurriedly do what we should have already done. Which leads me to my next point.

2. This quarantine business was always a Band-Aid, not a cure. 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a lot of people think we have to keep sheltering in place with huge chunks the economy frozen until nearly all risk is gone. 

That was never the plan. It can’t be the plan. 

The whole rationale of “flatten the curve” was to buy time for our medical infrastructure to get equipped to handle a lot of sick, infected/infectious people. Ventilators and personal protective equipment needed to be stockpiled. Beds needed to be readied. Virus tests and antibodies tests needed to be developed, mass produced and distributed.

But gradually over the last few weeks, the media, half our politicians, and a whole lot of Americans obviously started thinking that the quarantine HAD to remain in place until it was perfectly safe for everyone to go back to the way things were three months ago. 

Again, no.

This untenable belief quickly emerged for a several reasons. 

First, people trained in planning for and dealing with large-scale events with lots of unknowns and variables (such as planning for wars and natural disasters) are taught to envision and plan for “worst case scenarios.” 

People charged with knowing how to win wars before they start and address earthquakes before they happen must create models and plans of action that anticipate the worst possible set of circumstances. It would be irresponsible not to do so.

Many of the models generated in the early days of the outbreak did just this. (See here for details.) And they did so using variables that weren’t very reliable because the data out of China was so untrustworthy. But the media—which is largely scientifically illiterate—tended to report those “worst-case-scenario models as actual predictions.

Second, in order to justify the lockdown and encourage maximum compliance by the general public, it became necessary to scare the living daylights out of people. (While at the same time falsely telling them that masks weren’t helpful, so people wouldn’t hoard them and make it even harder to equip medical personnel.)

Yes, in the opening days of this event, the President was trying to reassure people and calm panic. But that ended once the disaster planners and epidemiological experts started driving, and the media quickly jumped on board. It worked, sort of.

They’ve been so effective at convincing some significant percentage of the population that going to work or school is flirting with death (and for a small percentage of the population, it is), that many people have now logically concluded that it will not be safe to go into public places until the virus is, somehow, completely eradicated.

There is a third reason so many have quickly begun to think that way.

We have a huge number of citizens who now view the government as their de facto “messiah.” 

They look to their national government to supply everything a savior would provide—provision, protection, assurance, and healing. 

In biblical terms, the Messiah is the one who rolls back all the negative effects of “the curse” that resulted from the fall of mankind. In the deepest part of every person, there is an awareness that we need that messiah. This awareness lies at the root of all false religion and religious activity. 

Today, many have been taught and trained to view the central government in messianic terms. They have religious-style faith that government can and should act to roll back every aspect of the fall and usher us back into the Garden of Eden—just as the ancient prophet Joni Mitchell foretold, and psalmists Crosby, Stills & Nash decreed. 

Still trying to get themselves back to the Garden.

If you reject the biblical narrative of the fall and the curse, then you will view both humanity and creation as essentially good and perfectable. And you will quite logically believe it necessary to invest enightened governing elites with enormous power and control. Liberty and personal freedoms must be curtailed in the utopian quest for collective Eden.

This is why control of the White House, Congress, and the courts is an all-consuming obsession with them. And why they pretty much lose their ever-loving minds if their side isn’t in total political control. 

Now apply this mindset to the current crisis. You end up with: The government must exercise restrictive control over all things in life and business in order to reduce the risk to all people to something close to zero.

Here’s the thing: That’s impossible. And the costs of attempting this fool’s errand are devastatingly high. 

In the U.S. alone, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims in the last few weeks. (UPDATE 4/23: Claims are now up to 26 million, or 16% of the U.S. workforce). But they’re actually the fortunate ones. Millions and millions of self-employed people and entrepreneurs whose businesses have been shut down can’t file for those benefits.

Yes, it can seem cold-hearted to point it out, but living life on fallen planet earth is a risky enterprise. And there is only one true Messiah who can effectively mitigate those risks. 

They’re out there: Drunk drivers; lightning strikes; meteors; banana peels on floors; crazy people with knives and guns; and forces of nature. And trillions and trillions of germs. Hostile bacteria and viruses—airborne, water-borne, food-borne, tick-borne, and mosquito-borne. 

Anyone who thinks that government can make living life on planet earth a risk-free proposition is delusional.

So again, the quarantine was never about—and could never be about—eliminating the risk for individuals. That’s not the planet we’re on. It could only be about preparing the capacity of our health care system to treat and restore as many sickened people as possible. 

And yet the utopians are already trying to shame and shout down anyone who makes this case.

By the way, I have several “at risk” people in my life who I love desperately. One lives under my roof. I’ll do my best to protect them. But we cannot impoverish millions to simply maintain an illusion of safety for them. Nor do my loved ones want us to.

This is not to say that our leaders don’t have some brutally difficult choices to make over the weeks and months ahead. It will require the wisdom of Solomon at the peak of his powers to strike the right balance between minimizing health impacts and minimizing economic impacts.

And those decisions will have to be made in the middle of a toxic, hyper-politicized, election-year environment. Lord Jesus help us.

In Part II of this post, I’ll address the numerous, spectacular conspiracy theories and rumors this event has generated. 

Here’s Your Roadmap for Navigating the Current Crisis

Here’s an icebreaker question for you. If you could only have one chapter of the Bible to read and study for the rest of your life, which chapter would you choose, and why?

For me, it’s the eighth chapter of Romans. No doubt. Virtually everything you need to know about the good news of the New Covenant and living the Christian life is there. In 39 verses, Paul manages to pack an entire life’s worth of spiritual truth and practical instruction.

And I’ve never seen a more beautiful rendering of those verses than the recently released version called The Passion Translation.

I mention all this because Romans 8 provides believers a perfect roadmap for getting through this current global disruption in peace and victory. You can read it for yourself here. But allow me to summarize the waypoints on this journey:

1. Verses 1-4: The chapter opens with the familiar, treasured declaration that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Passion Translation renders it this way:

So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

v. 1-2

These opening verses remind you that you have been gifted the very righteousness of Jesus Christ, and therefore fully qualify for everything He died to provide.

In the midst of this disruption and negative news storm, it’s vital to be mindful that every promise in God’s Word belongs to you because your qualification is not in yourself, but in Jesus.

2. Verses 5-9: Paul moves next to an exhortation about focus. He points out the temptation to be mindful primarily of earthy, natural things (the flesh) rather than spiritual things. This is always a hazard because natural things are readily perceived by our five senses, whereas spiritual things are invisible, yet very real. Paul warns:

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace.  In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to his direction,[f] because it cannot!

v.6-7

3. Verses 14-17: Paul then turns your identity in Jesus. Namely, that you are an adopted son or daughter of the Most High God. The implications of that adoption are . . .

And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”

v.15-16

Just as the opening verse of the chapter suggests. This means “you quailify” for every good and perfect gift God has made available in His son:

And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself.

v.17

Paul then reminds of why things around us often seem so messed up. And why virus plagues, droughts, and earthquakes still stalk the earth from time to time. The world is broken. Sin broke it. But the cure is already in the earth. That cure is us:

 For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the empty futility resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children.

v.20

The NASB puts it this way: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”

For here, Paul pivots to pointing out, now that the Spirit of God is living within us, we too are inwardly longing and groaning for a fuller restoration of broken Creation and the broken order of things. He says that we don’t know how to pray to help bring this about. But that same Spirit that creates that longing within us, DOES know how to pray for these things.

We learn that Spirit is ready, willing, and available to pray through us, if only we’ll yield ourselves to Him in this way:

And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

v.26

Everything that has come before leads Paul to a point where he can reveal one of the most important and glorious truths in all of the New (and better) Covenant. He proclaims that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him because they have responded to His wooing call. Or as The Passion renders it:

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

v.28

Most Christians (and non-Christians) have a skewed, cartoonish understanding of God’s sovereignty. I have written about this at length on this blog (see here) so I want re-cover that ground now.

I will simply say that Romans 8:28 does NOT say, “For we know that God causes all things.” There is no period after “things.”

The sheer wonder and majesty of all of this—particularly God’s genius in working it all out in advance—sweeps Paul into a song of worship and praise concering the powerful, infinite love of God.

This is a love strong and relentless enough to carry the objects of that love through the any man-made or natural crisis:

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us? 32 For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all, he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give.

v.31-32

v.33: Because God loves us, no one can condemn or judge us.

v. 34: The only one with a right to condemn us—Jesus—is our powerful heavenly advocate!

v. 35-38 There is no power in the created universe strong enough to break God’s loving, good-doing hold on you. Nothing in heaven or hell can separate you, even for a moment, from God’s kindness and care.

Here is everything you need to sail through the turbulent waters in which we now find ourselves.

  • You are righteous and blameless
  • Just keep your focus on spiritual realities rather than natural realities.
  • Live in awareness that you are God’s beloved Child.
  • Allow the Spirit of God to lead your praying, and allow Him to pray through you.
  • Rest in the confidence that, although God isn’t causing the current suffering and disruption, He IS brilliantly causing all things to work for your good, and for the good of all His people, plans, and purposes in the earth.
  • Soak in an awareness of God’s love for you. Be mindul of it. Speak of it. Give thanks for it.
{Note: I recently wrote a decree or proclamation rooted in the scriptures we've just examined, and posted it over at the Cup & Table Co. blog.  It's written as a corporate declaration, but can easily personlize it. You'll find it here. 

“I was Dead, and behold . . .”

Here’s an unlikely Easter Sunday message for you.

How many Easter sermons have you heard where a passage from the book of Revelation was the text? Most likely, the answer is “zero.” Yet, that is precisely where I plan to direct your attention this Resurrection morning.

John knew Jesus of Nazereth better than any living person (with the possible exception of His mother). He was part of the Savior’s inner circle of three. And among those three, he held a special place. Throughout his gospel, he cryptically refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

At the time of writing down the vision that contitutes the book of Revelation, John was most likely the only one of the 12 original disciples still living.

While exiled on the island of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea, John receives a heavenly visitation—not by an angel—but by Jesus Himself.

Now John had obviously been with Jesus constantly throughout His three year ministry. And he had even seen Jesus on numerous occasions following the resurrection. This risen Jesus could walk through walls yet could also share a meal with him.

The last time John had seen Jesus was on a hillside just outside Jerusalem. After receiving some final instruction, he’d watched his friend ascend into the clouds.

Through other scriptures, we now know what happened immediately after that ascension. Jesus was crowned King of Kings and took His rightful seat of rulership—the throne at the Father’s right hand.

So, yes, John had seen Jesus in many settings and times, but until this day, he had never seen Jesus the crowned, ruling King. It was, to say the least, a startling sight:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet . . . Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 1:10-16 (NASB)

Now much of the way King Jesus appears in John’s vision carries symbolic significance. I don’t believe that Jesus always has shining feet or a doubled-edged sword coming out of His mouth. Each of the things mentioned in John’s description carried prophetic significance about Jesus’ present, ongoing, and expanding rule as crowned King.

Nevertheless, there is a clear message here. As wonderful as Jesus was during His earthly ministry, and even after He received His glorified body at His resurrection . . . There is still no comparison to the might, glory, and majesty that Jesus now embodies as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

John is so overwhelmed at a mere glimpse of this King, that he collapses in a heap like a dead man. Suddenly the quaking John feels the warmth of a hand on his shoulder. He knows that hand.

Then he hears the voice of his old friend:

“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last,  and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Revelation 1:17,18 (NASB)

In a single, compound sentence, Jesus manages to pack a lifetime’s worth of comfort and reassurance.

  1. “Do not be afraid.” There is no place for fear in the presence of such love and power.
  2. “I am the First and the Last.” In the Greek, “the Alpha and Omega,” the A-to-Z. He is the author and the finisher. All of creation began with Him and now is being remade through Him.
  3. I am “the Living One.” King Jesus is not only alive, He is Life itself. He is the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Connection to Him imparts blessed immortality.
  4. “I was dead.” He had to die. He had to taste death in order to defeat it. He had to die our death, so we could partake of His life.
  5. “And behold, I am alive forevermore.” And yet here he stands before us, gloriously alive, and will be so forever. And because He will live forever, those of us who have partaken of His life will live eternally as well. It was John who had recorded His words on another day, “. . . that whosover should believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  6. “. . . and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The one who holds the keys can release the prisoners.

He is “the Living One.” He is mightier than we can imagine. He is our King. And today you can feel that reassuring hand on your shoulder, too. Because He is your friend.

A Gentle Word of Caution: Guard Your Hearts, Tend Your Souls

Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
for from there flows the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23b (The Passion Translation)

I’m concerned about something that may be coming at us over the next few weeks.

Yesterday, a stranger I follow on Twitter solely for fantasy football insights reteweeted the following:

Social media is a funny thing. I don’t know Dave Richard. And I don’t know if he actually knows Tommy Tran. Perhaps he does. Or he could just be one of Dave’s 127,000 Twitter followers. Neverthelss, there it was in my feed. News about the death-by-virus of a woman I never knew, accompanied by pictures of her with the loved-ones who are now grieving her premature death.

I’ve seen quite a few of these over the last few days. I’m moved by every one of them. I’m prompted to pray for those left behind. As a naturally empathetic person, each sends my mind and emotions off in grim directions. This one appeared as I was writing the last paragraph:

As I said, these are only a trickle now. But barring some a miraculous turnaround—and I’m certainly contending for that miracle—that trickle is about to surge into a flood.

We’re in the early stages of the first global crisis of the social media age. It’s easy to forget how recent a phenomenon social media actually is. It did not exist on September 11, 2001. And it was in its infancy during the onset of the Great Recession of ’08-’09.

Add to the above facts, the reality that most of us are quarantined and spending more time on social media than ever before. This means there’s a freight train headed our way I am compelled to warn you about it. Let me explain.

Over the last few years, huge sections of our soceity have become habituated to publically posting every aspect of their lives, experiences, and feelings. Indeed, it seems that for many, a thing didn’t really happen unless it’s been shared on Instagram.

At the same time, over the last 10 to 12 years, we’ve cultivated a culture of people who feel more significant if they are the victim of, or at mininum, have proximity to, a victim of a tragedy. And the higher profile the tragedy, the more significant they feel if they are touched by it.

This means that nearly every person falling sick over the next few weeks is going to post about it publically on social media. (This is very different than privately emailing family and friends to request prayer and agreement.) Then most of the followers of that person will share that announcment to their networks. And many of those will pass it along to their networks.

And every person who knows that sick person is going to post about it, too. They call it “viral” for a reason.

The same is even more true for deaths. Every death by Covid-19 is going to be endlessly shared through trees of interlocking networks.

It’s understandable that people want to honor their deceased family and friends by announcing their passing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is natural. But the viral sharing of those tragic deaths is a certainty. It will travel far, far beyond their small circle of acquaintances.

This all adds up to this reality: If we remain glued to social media when, as some experts are predicting, the daily death count soars to 1,000, 2,000, or more per day, (as it very well might when we reach the peak of our [hopefully] flattened curve,) we will rapidly become swept away in a tsunami of terrible, terrible news.

The danger here is succumbing to the false perception that “everyone” is getting sick. And that everyone getting sick is dying.

It will easily feel that way, but it will not be true. Social media is not real life.

Again, I’m with all those who are contending for an Easter miracle. But if we don’t get it, we at the Cup & Table Co. will embrace the miracle of Passover instead. “It shall not come near us.” And we’ll continue to intercede for our neighborhoods, our city, our state, ouir nation, and the world.

Nevertheless, I need you to know that if that Easter miracle does not manifest, a tsunami of bad news and sadness on social media is almost certainly coming. And I do not want you to be swept away by it.

We’re going to be fine. The Church is going to be fine.

In my business, we’re always talking about the need to raise awareness. But the truth is, there is only so much awareness the human heart can bear.

Perhaps only God is emotionally equipped to know about all the suffering in this world. You and I are not God. In the weeks ahead, be wise. Guard your heart diligently. Tend the garden of your soul.

The Night Paul Harvey was Arrested for Espionage

Photo: Argonne National Laboratories

Paul Harvey pulls his long overcoat around him and buttons the top button as his two companions shiver in the cold beside his car. It is nearly 1:00 a.m. on February 6, 1951, and the temperature is below freezing and dropping rapidly.  

The three had rendezvoused in Chicago at midnight as planned, ridden together in Paul’s car about thirty miles southwest of the city on U.S. 66, and then pulled off the main road just before reaching the main turnoff for Lemont, Illinois. Then a series of turns on county and dirt farm roads led them into a grove of trees near a 12-foot-high security fence with three strands of barbed wire at the top. Here, within the cover of the trees Paul had killed the headlights, pulled the car off the road, and shut it off. In the distance, beyond that security fence, the men could see the lights of Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), one of the most important and sensitive installations for top secret atomic research in North America. 

Now, fewer than sixty days after realizing his dream of becoming a national network news commentator, Paul is about to become national news, for within the hour he will be arrested and placed in federal custody on suspicion of espionage.

Declassified FBI document.

America’s respite from war and the threat of war hadn’t lasted very long. In many respects, it never came at all. 

The ink was scarcely dry on the German surrender documents when General George Patton warned U.S. leaders and anyone else who would listen about the threat of Soviet expansionist ambitions. He had requested permission to use his Third Army to push the Russians out of Eastern Europe, where reports of atrocities and oppression by Stalin’s forces were already leaking out. It was clear to everyone that the Soviets had no intention of relinquishing control of any of the blood-soaked territory they had covered on their push to Berlin. And the Soviet forces were in fact weak and vulnerable, having sustained losses of more than 10 million soldiers in the Eastern Front of the war and just as many civilian deaths. 

General Eisenhower and newly installed President Truman believed, probably correctly, that the war-weary American public had no stomach for a fight with a country that had been our ally only weeks earlier. Furthermore, there was still Japan to contend with. 

A dizzying cascade of events seemed to validate Patton’s warning over the next five years. In March of 1946 Winston Churchill stunned a still-celebrating America by declaring the demise of freedom across half an entire continent. In a speech titled “Sinews of Peace” at little Westminster College in Missouri, Churchill had declared, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” That same year a Soviet-backed insurgency in Greece triggered a civil war in an effort to overthrow the pro-Western government in that country and install a communist dictatorship. 

In 1948 the Soviet Union succeeded in installing a puppet government in Czechoslovakia and a few months later triggered a crisis with its blockade of Berlin. To the latter provocation, the West had been forced to respond with the Herculean and costly “Berlin Airlift.” The following year the most populous nation on earth became “Red” China as Mao Se-tung’s communist forces drove pro-Western Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek and his armies off the mainland to the island of Taiwan.

Almost simultaneously, the Soviet Union shocked the West when it successfully tested its first atomic bomb. American military and political leaders had assumed it would take the Soviets years, perhaps decades, to replicate the technological breakthroughs achieved by the U.S. through its super-secret Manhattan Project. The speed with which the Soviets had achieved nuclear parity caused many to suspect that American secrets were being leaked from within. Time would reveal that those suspicions were correct. 

Communist Party of America members Julius and Ethel (Greenglass) Rosenberg, along with Ethel’s brother David Greenglass, were instrumental in passing huge quantities of top secret U.S. military technology data to Soviet agents working inside America’s borders. Not only were key secrets about the creation of atomic weapons passed along, the Rosenbergs had also delivered the complete plans for a “proximity fuse,”—vital for the development of missile detonators— and a complete set of design and production drawings for Lockheed’s P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter.

The Rosenbergs’ betrayal of their country was uncovered in 1950, and they were tried, convicted and executed the following year. They went to the electric chair denying any involvement in espionage activity. Forty years later, however, when the collapse of the Soviet Union gave historians and reporters unprecedented access to Kremlin archives. Records from the time confirm that the Rosenbergs were indeed Soviet agents and had been instrumental in transferring nuclear-bomb-making know how to that country. Those records also reveal a labyrinth of other Soviet spying networks operating in the U.S. before, during and after the two nations became allies during World War II. These networks reached into almost every sphere of American life—corporate, academic, artistic and even the very federal government itself.

Some, like the Rosenberg ring, had been exposed. Most never were.

As if all this weren’t enough, there was one additional element about to be thrown into the stew of anxiety and mistrust simmering in the summer of 1950. In late June, communist North Korea, backed, armed and aided by Red China, invaded South Korea. The invasion presented the United Nations, formed in the aftermath of World War II, with the first real test of its “collective security” doctrine and mandate. Led and prodded by Harry Truman, the United Nations intervened on behalf of South Korea. It was almost unbelievable. Less than four years after the bloody, global war to thwart the expansionist aims of the Nazis, America found itself sending young men into harm’s way once more. 

Though unreservedly anti-communist, Paul wasn’t so sure this was America’s war to fight. He was growing increasingly concerned about the security and strength of his own nation. Throughout 1945 and beyond, he had been among the voices in America urging suspicion of the Soviets and sounding warnings about clandestine Russian efforts to weaken and de-stabilize the world’s only economic, military, and nuclear superpower. Indeed it was his calm, reasoned eloquence in making the case for vigilance that had caught Joseph Kennedy’s ear and led to the broadcaster’s promotion to the network level.

Thus, when the Rosenberg spying case broke in the middle of 1950, it not only alarmed and dismayed Paul, it confirmed some of his most visceral fears and suspicions. Countering these negative emotions was the exciting knowledge that his elevation to the network was scheduled to start in a few months.  He and Angel were already in discussions with the ABC Radio Network’s programming executives in New York about the what, when, and how of this new opportunity. It was an exhilarating time.

Many of the stories dominating the headlines in the opening weeks of 1951 centered around what was coming to be known as “the Cold War”—a term coined by Democratic financier and presidential advisor, Bernard Baruch. Each morning Paul’s newspaper as well as the wire service tickers he pored over would have contained numerous items about Soviet spying, communist subversion in America, and testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), testimony that grew more alarming with each passing week.

For example, on the morning of January 28, Paul would have opened his Chicago Tribune to find the following headline and article:

College Profs Tell Why They Became Reds: Secret Testimony of 2 Released by Probers

Washington—Two college professors outlined the philosophy that led to their enlistment in the communist movement in secret testimony released today by the house un-American activities committee.

Prof. David Hawkins, 37, Texas-born, now professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, who worked during the war on the ultra-secret atom bomb project at Los Alamos, N.M. . . .

Professor Kenneth O. May, 35, Oregon-born, now associate professor of mathematics at Carleton college, Northfield, Minn, who lost his teaching position at the University of Berkeley, in 1940 because of communist activities.[i]

Even before moving his broadcast over to the network, Paul had made lax security measures at many of the nation’s sensitive research facilities a regular focus of his commentaries. There had been too many reports of breaches and compromises at civilian and university-run facilities that were doing important work for the military. When reporting one of these incidents, Paul would ask, “When are we going to start taking seriously the protecting of these secrets which are keys to our competitive advantage in the arms race and perhaps the keys to our very survival?”

One of the most important keepers of such secrets was in Paul’s backyard—Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). ANL refers to itself as “America’s first national laboratory” and with good reason. It was established in 1946 as the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory, boasted some of the top scientific minds in the country, and was a key part of the Manhattan Project team that successfully developed the first atomic bomb.

By 1950, ANL was not only the U.S. Department of Energy’s oldest research and engineering lab, it was the largest. Some of the most important and sensitive research being done there involved the creation of small, manageable nuclear reactors, the kind that will ultimately enable the creation of nuclear submarines. But Argonne did not have a spotless record where security was concerned.  

On February 8, 1949, Argonne made headlines when it was reported that a bottle containing thirty-one grams of enriched uranium was discovered missing from an Argonne vault. An investigation ultimately found that all but about seven grams of the material had been shipped to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The remaining seven grams were found in a trash container in Argonne’s landfill. The congressional investigation that followed resulted in a tightening of Argonne’s record-keeping procedures for sensitive materials.

Sometime in late 1950 or very early 1951, amid this steady stream of reports about spying and subversion around the nation, Paul received a call from U.S. Congressman Fred Busbey (IL), a personal friend of his. Representative Busbey had someone he thought Paul would be interested in talking to. He couldn’t elaborate over the phone. Paul was intrigued and agreed to meet the man.

The mystery man turned out to be Charles Rogal, a part-time security guard and switchboard operator at ANL. He told the broadcaster a story of sloppy security, poorly followed protocols and under-qualified security staff. To Paul, it sounded like another deeply damaging espionage loss to the Soviets just waiting to happen.

Paul formulated a plan. Whether it was a foolhardy plan or not has been debated for more than five decades. Nevertheless, Paul contacted a man he knew who worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence, John Crowley, and persuaded him to join him and Charles Rogal on that trip out to the security fence in those early morning hours of February 6.

* * * * *

As his two companions watched, Paul began to scale the fence. When he reached the top, however, his overcoat snagged on the barbed wire. He struggled for several minutes to pull free, and before he could get clear, a jeep patrolling the perimeter happened by.

When his companions saw the headlights approaching they slipped off behind some bushes and then ran off through the trees. They eventually came to the main road and caught a ride back to town. Unfortunately for them, they left a wallet and some identifying papers behind in the car. 

The following day, puzzled Tribune readers learned of this improbable event:

Paul Harvey Seized Inside Atom Lab Area

Paul H. Aurandt, 3400 Lake Shore Dr., an American Broadcasting Company radio and television newscaster under the name of Paul Harvey, was seized by a guard at the Argonne National Laboratory in Du Page county at 1:10 a.m. yesterday, a few minutes after he had climbed a fence surrounding the laboratory’s restricted area.

News of the arrest was released in a statement by the atomic energy commission only after it was approved “at the highest level” in Washington. Aurandt was turned over to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for questioning and later released.

Later in the day Aurandt said: “I have been working in conjunction and cooperation with the investigating divisions of several departments of the United States government for the last several months. I am not at liberty nor am I authorized by the governmental investigating divisions to release any story or information concerning the matters upon which I have been working.”[ii]

Follow-up stories appeared in papers across the country for several days thereafter, with much speculation about what government agencies, if any, Paul may have been working with to test ANL’s security measures. Few in the general public or the press seemed inclined to believe that Paul Harvey was a Soviet spy. Federal investigators on the other hand weren’t so sure. Records indicate they didn’t know what to make of the incident. 

Everyone had an opinion about it, though. University of Chicago professor and researcher, Dr. Harold Urey, winner of the 1934 Nobel Prize in chemistry, was quoted as saying he was disappointed that guards did not shoot Harvey. When reporters asked accomplice Charles Rogal—who was fired by Argonne after the incident— if there had been any fear of being shot by guards, he said, “Not one of them could shoot and hit the side of a barn.”[iii]

There was much mirth and joking surrounding the whole thing, but it didn’t change the fact that Paul was potentially in serious trouble. The federal government was planning to bring charges that carried a possible 10-year prison term and $10,000 in fines. 

A federal grand jury was called. Presiding was a future Illinois governor, U.S. Attorney Otto Kerner. He heard the charges against Paul: “conspiracy to obtain information on national security and transmit it to the public.” In response, the broadcaster requested permission from Kerner to appear before the grand jury. Kerner agreed on one condition: Paul had to first sign a waiver of the right to later claim immunity from prosecution for anything his testimony might reveal.

The accused happily signed it. The professional talker apparently had a high degree of confidence that if he could get the ear of the grand jury, they would view his act as more of a public service than a crime. His appearance was scheduled for March 21. 

In the interim, the feds view of Paul apparently softened considerably. The Chicago office of the FBI even filed a supplemental report, indicating that, upon further study, the Justice Department had reached the conclusion “that Aurandt had not willfully violated security laws.” Paul also received a good word from an unexpected source. As the Tribune reported, “Merlin W. Griffith, business agent of the Argonne security guards union, yesterday praised Aurandt for exposing what Griffith charged were security ‘flaws’ at Argonne.”[iv]

Paul’s confidence turned out to be well founded and his appearance must have had its desired effect. On April 4, 1951, the grand jury voted not to indict him. Later the foreman of the grand jury told the press the vote was not even close. 

Paul Pre-toupee

Precisely what Paul was thinking when he climbed the fence that night remains a matter of debate. It was something that, in his later years, he declined to talk about. It seems most improbable that he was working officially on behalf of any government agency. If a high-level department wanted to see if Argonne’s perimeter could be breached, they would almost certainly not recruit a radio newsman in a wool overcoat for the task. 

Perhaps a savvy self-marketer who had just gotten himself a national newscast thought it would be a brilliant promotional ploy to breach one of the country’s most sensitive facilities. The headlines would really put him on the map. But this motivation seems deeply out of character with everything else we know about the life and values of Paul Harvey. The most plausible explanation is the most obvious one. 

What he learned from Charles Rogal about the security situation at Argonne must have troubled him profoundly. In the wake of the ongoing Rosenberg affair, he was concerned that secrets and technologies vital to the safety and survival of our nation were at risk. He and others had been publicly calling for greater vigilance for several years but without apparent effect. So he took it upon himself to expose the vulnerability the only way he knew how. 

It would be like a volunteer fireman setting a small blaze to create a fire break, in hopes of keeping an inferno from destroying his town. The fact that this would-be firefighter could easily have gotten himself shot either didn’t occur to him or didn’t matter.What was clear to Paul in early 1951 was that communism was spreading like a prairie fire in a drought all over the world and that, inexplicably . . . maddeningly . . .  a good number of the brightest, most talented and most privileged of his fellow Americans considered this a good thing. Even more bewildering to him was the desire of some of them to bring that fire to our shores. 


[i] Edwards, Willard. “College Profs Tell Why They Became Reds.” Chicago Daily Tribune 28 Jan. 1951: p. 32.

[ii] “Paul Harvey Seized Inside Atom Lab Area.” Chicago Daily Tribune 7 Feb. 1951: 8.

[iii] McGregor, Steve. “Argonne passes a reporter’s security test.” Argonne National Laboratory. p. 6 Feb. 1996. 21 Mar. 2009 <http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/History/news960206.html>.

[iv] “Kerner to Read FBI’s Report on Harvey Seizure.” Chicago Daily Tribune 13 Feb. 1951: p. 8.