In Which I Play the Touchy, Thin-Skinned Author

So far there haven’t been many negative reviews of The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin.

The one that has received the most linkage around the Interwebs was one by a guy named Bill Berkowitz who cleverly  titled his review, “Mansfield’s Mission: Mainstreaming Sarah Palin’s Faith and Values.

Berkowitz spends the first 1300 words outlining some mundane facts about the book and going over our biographies as authors and throwing a few stones at Stephen in the process. Then we get to the final paragraph:

Not having read the book, I am not sure how deep Mansfield/Holland delve . . .

Wait  . . . wha??? Now, after 15 paragraphs, you mention not having bothered to read the book? Hilariously, this “review” has attracted links from all over the lefty blogosphere and Twitterverse.

A much more malicious and dishonest review was posted today by “Kim” from Alabama. It’s on an insignificant little Blogspot blog (as opposed to this insignificant little WordPress blog) and I wouldn’t even bother to mention it except that it serves as a great example of an increasingly common form of smear.

That is, carefully excerpting and rearranging someone’s words to make them seem to be saying precisely the opposite of what he or she actually said. You may recall that happened to a Republican congressional candidate in Florida recently.

In this case, “Kim” begins her review by stating:

“Shame is at the foundation of all religion.” ( p 188)

“…Palin lied about Trig, and this is what people of faith do.” (p. 188)

Okay folks, this is the second book I’ve read about a national figure written primarily by Stephen Mansfield. The first was “The Faith of Barrack Obama” and now the second, “The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin.” The comments that I opened this review with give you a good idea of the tone of this book. Mansfield does not understand the meaning of the word faith. AT ALL. If you want to understand Sarah Palin, don’t read Mansfield’s work.

When I read those two quoted snippets, I literally asked myself, “Did we write that? We couldn’t have because that’s not what we believe.”

So I grabbed a copy of the book and turned to the cited page 188.

It turned out to be a section in which we debunk many of the lies and smears that have been thrown at Palin since she became John McCain’s running mate. We take particular aim at the conspiracy theories surrounding her son, Trig. We pretty much obliterate them. Actually, it’s more like we yank their pants down, paddle those theories bottoms, and then parade their theoretical pants around on a long stick.

Indeed on page 188, we wrote:

The lie about Trig Palin being Bristol’s child rather than her mother’s draws strength from a vile assumption about people of faith. It is a lie rooted in the ideas of Sigmund Freud and developed by philosophers like Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach and Karl Marx. It is that shame is at the heart of religion, that religion is a man-made device for ameliorating the guilt that human beings feel when they commit acts for which they feel guilt. This is the belief that has moved so many Trig Palin conspiracy theorists to rush to judgment in the face of overwhelming facts to the contrary.

The theory is simple: Sarah Palin is religious. Shame is at the foundation of all religion. Palin found her daughter to be with child. Rather than acknowledge the truth and face the shame of her daughter’s misdeeds, Palin perpetrated a massive fraud. This is the manner of the religious.

It could not be that a mother was devastated by the news of being pregnant with a child with Down’s syndrome and needed time to adjust. It could not be that this was a private business and the out world could wait. It could not be that Palin needed the news to remain between her and her husband for a while longer before she had to help her wider family adjust. No, Palin lied about Trig, and this is what people of faith do.

Thus the conspiracy theories. Thus the allegations. Thus a portrayal of Palin that American culture could easily believe.

Now my assumption is that “Kim” is not an imbecile, and therefor deliberately clipped those two sentence fragments in order to give unsuspecting readers who might otherwise be interested in the book a very wrong impression of its contents.

Why would “Kim” do that? I suppose Freud had a theory about that, too. I have one of my own.

UPDATE: The reviewer has now removed the misleading quotes from the review and deleted all the comments, including mine. She leaves unchanged her negative assessment of the book, which is her prerogative. At least she is no longer dishonestly distorting what we said in it.

The Sacking of Juan Williams: The Real Reason


As you probably know, NPR fired liberal journalist Juan Williams yesterday supposedly for “insensitive” comments he made during one of his regular appearances on Fox News Channel. (If that’s news to you, click here to get caught up.)

There are a number of interesting aspects to this story. One of the most obvious is that this serves as only the most recent reminder that Muslims are rapidly becoming an off-limits, sacrosanct, cannot-be-criticized-under-any-circumstances group. This has already been the case for some time in Canada. (Ask Mark Steyn and his legal bills.)

I’m confident the comments that got Williams canned were merely a quasi-plausible excuse to fire him. After all, his supposedly offensive remark actually prefaced an argument for greater tolerance and accommodation of Muslims. No, His real sin was refusing to stop appearing on Fox News when ordered to do so.

The fact is, both Williams and his NPR colleague Mara Liasson have been under significant pressure for a couple of years to end their relationship with FNC. Indeed, Liasson, NPR’s long-time White House correspondent was confronted directly last December by the bigwigs at NPR and asked to “reconsider her regular appearances” on FNC.

Why? Because Williams’ and Liasson’s high and extensive profile on Fox was making it much more difficult (and more than a little embarrassing) for the tacticians on the Left to carry out their campaign of marginalizing FNC as nothing more than a PR organ for the Republican Party.


The billionaires like George Soros and friends that are funding what amounts to a vast left-wing conspiracy have two flies in their ointment-dream of complete control of the media–Fox News and AM talk radio. They otherwise control the messaging on all the other news outlets, plus the music industry (except for country music). Hollywood can be counted on to fill the scripts of both dramas and comedies with messages the reinforce liberal sensibilities.

But  history and human nature remind us that when a tyrant controls almost everything, he becomes all the more enraged about the little thing he cannot possess.

Thus the persistent teeth gnashing and clothes rending over Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Is Fox News generally conservative in its editorial approach? Absolutely. It was intentionally launched as a conservative alternative to the uniformly liberally biased new reportage at ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, Headline News, and MSNBC. But it has also kept a remarkable number of left-leaning hosts and participants featured in it’s line up, among them Geraldo Rivera, Greta Van Sustren, Morton Kondracke, and, of course, Williams and Liasson.

Take a look at this clip of Juan Williams launching a pretty ugly attack on Sarah Palin.

Now try to imagine a conservative analyst who routinely offered comparable attacks on a popular liberal figure being regularly invited to appear on MSNBC. Impossible. (A side note: Palin was quick to come to Williams’ defense yesterday, even though he has been a consistent, and frequently harsh, critic of hers.)

The fact is, the token conservatives occasionally trotted on at liberal networks are almost exclusively of either the Pat Buchanan (CNN) or David Brooks (PBS) varieties. That is, the kinds of conservatives that can be counted on to criticize their fellow Republicans much of the time.

On the other hand, FNC has been pretty deliberate about keeping a firewall between their opinion programming (conservatives O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and liberal Rivera) and their news coverage (Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, Major Garrett, et. al.)

For example, Fox didn’t let O’Reilly, Beck or Hannity within a country mile of their official election coverage back in 2008. It was handled, as always, by former ABC White House correspondent, Brit Hume with the assistance of the nation’s recognized authority on electoral politics, Michael Barone–flanked by a diverse panel of conservatives, moderates and liberals.)

Contrast that with MSNBC’s coverage. Who did that network put in the anchor chairs to cover the conventions?

Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.

Or at least did so until the pair’s hyper-partisan cheer leading for the Democrats became so embarrassing, the stockholders and board of directors of NBC’s parent company intervened.

(You may recall that four years earlier MSNBC had liberal Ron Reagan heavily involved in their convention analysis–except for one night. Reagan was off for a portion of one evening because he was the prime time speaker at the Democratic Convention that nominated John Kerry. Breathtaking.)

Embarrassment is also at the heart of Juan Williams’ firing by NPR. The standard liberal talking point is Fox News has no credibility because it is merely a propaganda machine for conservatives and/or Republicans. The presence of Williams, Liasson, Rivera and others makes that tougher to sell to objective independents, especially when those independents have sampled what passes for journalism over at the other cable news outlets.

Ironically, in the wake of NPR’s firing of Williams, Fox News has offered Williams a lucrative deal that will give him an even higher profile on the network, weakening the Fox News-is-monolithically-conservative talking point even further.

Speaking of irony. Here’s a 2002 radio segment by NPR about accusations of liberal bias in the media. The NPR reporter filing this piece? Juan Williams.

I publish really very good informations. My internet is fantastic!

Not too long ago I set up a web page for the new Palin book. An unexpected source of entertainment has been the spammy comments left by the international peddlers of Viagra, pet meds, seamy tapes of pop tartlets, and, bizarrely, dubious Lyme Disease cures.

The clever spammers set up automated web crawlers leaving generic comments with embedded links on blogs in hopes the clueless blogger will approve them, and thereby provide them with some free advertising or at least a higher search ranking on Google.

These internet bottom-feeders have gotten pretty adept at crafting a comment that is complimetary and yet applicable to almost any post on any subject. For example, I got this one the other day:

Exactly how did you figure all this out about this topic? I enjoyed reading this, I’ll have to visit other pages on your site straight away.

Sure you will, buddy. Then there was this one:

This topic has been up for debate quite a lot of times but none of the posts were as detailed as yours. Admin I hope to see such quality posts from you in the future.

Well, I’ll do my best. Sometimes the spammer lays it on just a little too thick. Some guy with a web site that had the words “silver bullion for sale” in the url wrote:

Merely want to say your article is stunning. The clearness in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with succeeding post. Thanks a million and please keep up the admirable work.

No I will not give you permission to “grab my rss feed.” The last stranger who grabbed my rss earned himself a punch in the nose.

But at least those guys seemed to have learned English as a first language. I liked this valiant attempt:

Appreciate it for publish really very good informations. Your internet is fantastic! I am impressed by the facts that you simply have on this weblog. It exhibits how nicely you recognize this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for additional. You, my pal, I discovered just the information I by now looked everywhere and just couldn’t uncover. What a perfect web page. Such as this websites your ?nternet site is one particular of my new favorites.I such as this information proven and it has provided me some kind of idea to have achievement for some reason, so retain up the decent work!

Well, that’s high praise coming from you, sir. It has been my pleasure to have provided you some kind of idea to have achievement for some reason. And I will endeavor to retain up the decent work. But I make no guarantees.

Keep those comments coming web bots. And I’ll keep not approving them.

Taking En-Courage-Ment

ALSO [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). (Luke 18:1 AMP)

Frankly, it’s been a tough month. Actually the entire year hasn’t exactly been a leisurely float through the “It’s a Small World” exhibit at Disneyland. Come to think of it, the last two years .  .  .

Well, you get the idea.

I recall telling a Bible study group I was leading a year-and-a-half ago that I was convinced the days ahead were going to require one quality above all others. Courage. I wish I had been wrong about that.

Over the last few months I have been drawing vital spiritual courage (in other words “encouragement”) from a 75-year-old book I’ve been reading and re-reading. It is E.W. Kenyon’s “In His Presence.” Obviously, I recommend it.

I got another major infusion of encouragement last week in an audio teaching on CD I received from a friend. It was a recent teaching by my former writing mentor, Gina Lynnes. It was one of those divine appointments in which you get just the right word at just the right moment. The message was titled “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and it is so fresh, I doubt it is available on their web site yet.

Gina and her husband Kelly are both dear friends and they have an amazing ministry based in Denver. They are two of the finest teachers I know and they happen to be married to each other. Gina has a great blog here.

To borrow Dan Rather’s short-lived sign off . . . “Courage!” (Hopefully it seems less ridiculous when I say it.)

Eulogy for My Father


Please permit me one last, long, self-indulgent post about Dad. What follows is a few words about the circumstances of his home-going; The eulogy I delivered at his service yesterday; And the then a short video tribute.

The last week is a blur of activity associated with my Dad’s situation. A week ago, today we were scrambling to get him located in an Alzheimer’s facility as close to Mom as possible. Over the weekend, my brother and sister who live in the Atlanta area flew in to spend some time with him. As they did, none of us would have dreamt that we could have measured his remaining time on this earth in hours, rather than days.

Because of our closer proximity, my other sister and I had gotten a lot more time with Dad over the past few months. But these were priceless minutes for the other two.

As is often the case with those about to pass over into eternity, Dad displayed a brief surge of alertness on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day and my brother and sister wheeled him out onto the porch for some fresh air and sunshine.

In those irreplaceable golden moments, Sis held his hand and poured out the contents of her brimming heart. She reminded him of funny things he used to say to her, and he would smile or laugh at each remembrance. She expressed her love and honor and admiration and gratitude.

And when, overcome with emotion, she could say no more. He slowly, haltingly raised her hand to his lips.

Not long after that, he slipped back into sleep and, the following morning, my brother and sister began their respective journeys back to Atlanta, assuming that Dad would be with us at least a few more months if not years.

That evening I got a call from my other sister, who had just driven four hours back to her new home in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Dad’s condition had worsened dramatically. Hospice care said he would not likely make it to morning. I threw some clothes in a gym back and headed back that way.

My brother had caught an early flight out of DFW back to Atlanta and had just arrived back at his house when I called him. He was stunned. Dad had seemed to be doing better. I suggested he stay put. Dad might rally. My sister, on the other hand, had gotten only  as far as Oklahoma City. She got back in the car and headed back.

The three of us converged on Dad’s room around 10:00 p.m., where Mother was waiting at his bedside. We turned the lights low and played some worship music through my laptop. He was more peaceful and calm than we had seen him in months. Just before 5:00 a.m. my sister, who is a nurse, said, “I think this is it.” And it was.

With his wife of 55 years holding his hand, Dad set aside mortality and put on immortality. He stepped out of time and into eternity. We each, in turn, kissed him, and then just stood around the bed not knowing what to say or do. There was something extraordinarily holy and sweet about the moment. Then my sister said, “Brother, why don’t you pray.”

I made a feeble effort to give voice to what all of us were feeling.

I thanked God for Dad’s life. For the privilege of having known him. For the sacrifices he’d made for each of us over the years. And most of all for the wonderful assurance that this separation was only for a season . . . for the knowledge that Dad was now whole and free.

Yesterday their home church was filled to overflowing for Dad’s service. I read his obituary, which I have already posted below, and then a said few additional words on behalf of my siblings. What follows is as close an approximation of my eulogy as I can muster: Continue reading

John F. Holland (1929-2010)


John F. Holland, 81, Wilburton, died Monday October 11, 2010 surrounded by loved ones.

He was born in Okemah, Oklahoma on June 20, 1929, to Floyd and Lottie (Farris) Holland. He was the second-eldest of six children and grew up in and around Prague, Oklahoma. He married Betty Ruth Jackson on August 10, 1955 and together they raised four children, first in Midwest City, Oklahoma and then in Wilburton—spending more than 40 years in two homes they built on a small acreage in the Centerpoint community.

He loved his country and served her in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953 and in the Army Reserves from 1953 to 1956. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Central State College (now University of Central Oklahoma) and a M.S. in Biology from the University of Montana.

He loved imparting knowledge and taught science at Midwest City High School from 1959 to 1965. He joined the faculty of Eastern Oklahoma A&M College (now Eastern Oklahoma State College) in 1965, serving as head of the Biology Department until his retirement in 1984.

He loved God and was an active member of First Baptist Church, Wilburton where, throughout more than 45 years of quiet service to the Lord and His people, he taught Sunday school, sponsored Royal Ambassadors, ushered, served as a deacon, and, in the final decades of his life, traveled to disaster scenes all over America and the world through his work with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team.

He loved his family and is survived by his wife of 55 years, Betty Ruth (Jackson) Holland, and their four children and 10 grandchildren—son, David Holland, his wife Tracy and their children Caitlin, Grayson and Olivia; son, John D. Holland; daughter, Elizabeth (Holland) Ray, her husband Brook, her children Kirsten, Steven, Zachary, and Brook’s son, Dakota; daughter, Laura (Holland) Harwood, her husband Adam, and their children Anna Kate, Nathan, Jonathan, and Rachel.

Surviving siblings include—brothers Elvin “Breezy” Holland, Leo Holland, Bob Holland and sister Ruth (Holland) Suggs. He is also survived by hundreds of dear friends—among them longtime colleagues in Christian service, Dr. J.N. Baker and J.C. Vester.

He is preceded in death by his father Floyd Holland, brother Alvis “Pete” Holland, and mother, Lottie (Farris) Holland.

He is with his Lord but leaves an enduring legacy of impacted lives, helped families, and countless individuals inspired and challenged by his example of selfless service.

Services will be held Wednesday, October 13, at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Wilburton, Rev. Doug Miller officiating. Pallbearers will be the deacons of First Baptist Church and honorary pallbearers are attending members of the Oklahoma Chapter of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

He will be interred at Centerpoint Cemetery with all arrangements handled by Waldrop Funeral Home (1208 Highway 2 N Wilburton, OK 74578-3480 – 918-465-2228)

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief initiative or to the First Baptist Church building fund.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

3800 N. May Avenue

Oklahoma City, OK 73112

First Baptist Church Building Fund

101 W Blair Ave
Wilburton, OK 74578-2420

God. Country. Others.

Death of a Crush

Remember “Obama Girl?” The head cheerleader for America’s “crush on Obama” back during the election of 2008? Seen her lately?

Here’s a well-produced video that does a good job of explaining in two minutes and twenty-two seconds how that crush died and why American voters are about to do a morning-after “walk of shame” to the polls in a few weeks:

Another "Deleted Scene" from "The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin"

Another snippet picked up from the cutting room floor:

To the lover of pure wildness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.

John Muir’s Journal, 1879

On a fog shrouded morning in June of 1879 John Muir, the legendary naturalist and explorer, packed his camera, a few blank notebooks, and some camping gear and boarded the steamship Dakota sailing out of San Francisco Bay. On that day, the man whose rapturous writings about the glories of California’s Yosemite Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains would ultimately inspire the national park movement in America, was northbound. North to the vast, mythic, unmapped expanse of Alaska.

Muir, a “lover of pure wildness” if ever one walked God’s green earth, was drawn by the tales he was hearing from traders, explorers and missionaries returning from the new northern frontier of the expanding American empire. Alaska, the recently purchased territory widely derided as Seward’s Folly was twice the size of Texas. Those who had been there came back with fantastic stories of vast virgin forests swarming with exotic animals, towering mountain ranges, fields of wild flowers stretching horizon to horizon, crystalline streams alive with red-orange salmon, and mammoth rivers of ice which flowed to the sea and crumbled into floating mountains of sapphire blue.

In the remarkable Muir dwelt the survival skills of a mountain man, the expressive soul of a poet, and the crusading mystic fervor of a holy man. And for most of the previous two decades he had focused these gifts on the singular cause of Continue reading