Ten Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

1. ToddCast—Todd Starnes

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/toddcast-podcast-with-todd-starnes/id1482510236

Todd Starnes, who used to work at Fox News, has a daily radio show about politics and culture. He mixes comedy with his political commentary for a fun, informative show. Todd is a conservative, and he’s not afraid to stand for conservative principles and Biblical truth. Todd’s podcast offers a great alternative to the mainstream media’s liberal lies.

2. The Rebellion—Dr. Everett Piper

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-rebellion/id1515575741

Dr. Everett Piper served as President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and wrote Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth. In his podcast, he offers conservative commentary on issues in our culture from a Christian perspective. He emphasizes the importance of truth and the impact that ideas have on our society.

3. Sandy Rios in the Morning

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sandy-rios-in-the-morning/id400516424

Sandy Rios hosts a conservative, Christian radio show on American Family Radio every morning in which she discusses political and cultural news. She stays on top of national as well as state races. She is a fighter, and she believes in speaking the truth boldly and clearly.

4. New Discourses—James Lindsay

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/new-discourses/id1499880546

James Lindsay exposes the woke, marxist infiltration of our schools, churches, and society. He does deep dives into works from marxists like Paulo Freire and Herbert Marcuse. This is a very informative podcast that will open your eyes to what is happening, especially in academia.

5. Newt’s World

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/newts-world/id1452065072

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, was co-author of the Contract with America. He was instrumental in the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. Newt talks politics and usually has a guest on each episode. You’ll get insider information and expert analysis in this podcast.

6. Conversations that Matter—Jon Harris

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/conversations-that-matter/id1446645865

Author and speaker Jon Harris talks about how CRT and social justice have infiltrated the Southern Baptist Convention and other denominations. If you are a Christian who is concerned about the state of the church in America, there’s no better podcast than this one. It’s one of my favorites.

7. The Victor Davis Hanson Show

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-victor-davis-hanson-show/id1570380458

Victor Davis Hanson is a classics professor at California State University Fresno and visiting professor at Hillsdale College, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Two different people, Jack Fowler and Sami Winc, alternate hosting episodes to ask him questions, which gives him the opportunity to share his down-to-earth, common sense, conservative commentary on current affairs as well as his deep knowledge of history, especially of Ancient Greece. Highlights of the podcasts include Victor’s assessment of the state of California, his experiences in farming, his appreciation for blue-collar workers, and his disdain of academic and media elites.

8. The Federalist

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/federalist-radio-hour/id983782306

The Federalist is a conservative website and podcast that discusses political and cultural issues from a conservative perspective. Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky interviews guests in an in-depth discussion on a certain topic. Other hosts also appear on the podcast. This podcast reflects the perspective of the younger generation of conservatives.

9. Love Worth Finding with Adrian Rogers

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/love-worth-finding-on-oneplace-com/id288159649

Adrian Rogers was the pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis as well as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was also instrumental in the conservative resurgence in the denomination. He had a television and radio ministry called Love Worth Finding. Each episode in this podcast consists of one of Adrian Rogers’ sermons (or part of one). He was a powerful and dynamic preacher, and his sermons still speak to people today.

10. Through the Psalms—Wesley Provine

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/through-the-psalms/id1497350990

Nothing like a shameless plug. How could I provide a list of recommended podcasts and not include my own? Through the Psalms is exactly what it sounds like—a journey through the Book of Psalms. Each episode covers a different psalm. I introduce the psalm, read it, and then exegete it.

Biden’s Dark and Sinister Speech

On Thursday night in Philadelphia, in front of Independence Hall, President Joe Biden gave what could easily be called the most chilling and sinister speech ever given by a United States president.

Given against a backdrop of red lights, darkness, and two Marines, the atmosphere evoked an eerie, dystopian, Big Brother vibe. Memes popped up online soon afterwards with the hashtag, #TwoMinutesOfHate, a reference to the novel 1984.

Biden railed against Trump supporters, “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic….MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies….MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies — lies told for profit and power.”

Biden didn’t limit the reasons for his attacks on MAGA Republicans just to January 6. He went on to attack MAGA Republicans for their conservative views on abortion and marriage: “[they’re] determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

This kind of rhetoric is dangerous. It further divides the country and pours gasoline on an already volatile situation. I can’t remember a time before where an American president attacked half of the electorate and labeled them as dangerous extremists.

Interestingly, Biden walked back the comments the next day, saying, “I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country.” Perhaps someone reminded him of what he said in his Inauguration speech on January 20, 2021:

“Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause….That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

President Biden, Inauguration Speech, Jan. 20, 2021

Biden has failed to live up to his promise of uniting the country. In fact, he has been one of the most divisive presidents we’ve ever had. And his speech on Thursday night was disturbing to say the least. The dangerous extremist that Americans should be worried about is not Donald Trump or his supporters. It’s the man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

My Experience of Running for Office

In the Spring of 2018, I filed papers at the Oklahoma state capitol to run as a Republican in the race for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, District 53. It would be a three person primary in June, one of whom was the incumbent. There were a record number of candidates who filed across the state that year, mainly due to the teacher strike.

I had always enjoyed politics and history. I loved Ronald Reagan growing up, and he, along with my parents and grandparents, and my Christian faith, influenced me in my conservative values. I remember listening to Rush Limbaugh in the car with my Grandpa, and my dad and stepmom also loved listening to him and introduced me to his briefly-aired television show. My mom was a teacher, and education would play a huge role in this particular race.

I was nervous but excited as I filed the papers. I gave a brief on-camera interview to the local news media in the capitol about why I chose to run. I looked for it on the news, but I never saw it. I announced on my personal Facebook page my decision to run and received a lot of supportive comments from friends and family.

After filing, one of the first things I did was attend a mandatory training at the capitol by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission and how to use their web site to report my donations and expenditures. I also went to the bank and opened a special account for my campaign.

I called a friend in Arkansas who had run for office, and he gave me some good advice. He told me to call the state Republican party and get a list of the Republican voters in my district, which I did. They sent me a spreadsheet with names and addresses on it as well as an indication of how often the person voted. I was a little overwhelmed with how many doors I had to knock, and I sought help from family and friends. My parents both went with me on more than one occasion to visit with people. As someone who is reserved and quiet, that was probably the most challenging part of running for office, but it was also the most rewarding and essential. I enjoyed getting out and talking to voters to hear their concerns and where they stood on the issues. I felt like I was more in touch with what people were feeling and thinking after I had gone out each time. I didn’t really run into any rude people. Most were very friendly and willing to talk. One guy gave me a laugh when he asked me if I would post helpful information about bills on social media or just pictures of myself winning awards.

Another essential element of the campaign was ordering signs and door hangers and placing them around town. I actually found placing the signs a fun activity. I was on a limited budget, so I found a good deal on a website called Victory Store. The only problem was that the company was based out of state so it took a while for the signs to get in. Their website allowed you to design your own signs. I ordered mostly medium-sized signs because they seemed to be most economical for me, but I wished I had more small signs. The challenging part of placing the signs was finding spaces not already taken by the competition. I lost a few of the signs. I don’t know if they were stolen or if they just got blown away. One time I found my sign surrounded by my opponent’s signs so that his hid mine. I also heard from someone whom I had gone to elementary school with and hadn’t talked to in years. He had seen my sign when leaving the movie theater.

I didn’t send out any mailers, which probably hurt me. It was a matter of not having enough money as well as not being sure about who to use to do that. I did order a couple of car magnets for my car, and I designed and ordered campaign t-shirts for my family and myself.

Another element of the campaign was answering questionnaires from various groups such as the National Rifle Association or the League of Women Voters. Some of them came through the mail, and others were online. I found this aspect of the campign enjoyable and interesting.

Of course, raising money is a major part of a campaign. I was determined not to take any special interest money, and I advertised that on my social media. Voters seemed to appreciate that. I self-funded most of my campaign, while my family and friends also helped me out with generous donations. This had a positive and negative aspect. The positive part was that I had freedom to take stances on issues which I thought were right. I was not beholden to anybody. The drawback, of course, was that I had a limited amount of funds so I was outspent by the incumbent. Fundraising was probably my least favorite part of the campaign. As I mentioned before, I had to record every donation and expenditure on a special website run by the state. At the end of the campaign, I had a choice of what to do with any unused funds. I could return it to donors or donate it to charity, along with a few other options.

As I said before, it was a three-way race. The other challenger was a teacher. I got the feeling that she wasn’t quite as conservative as me, and she focused mainly on education issues. Because the campaign occurred around the time of the teacher strikes and protests at the capitol, that was obviously the major issue of the campaign.

My political strategy was to stick to my conservative values and also to support teachers at the same time. In addition, I needed to distinguish myself from the incumbent by presenting myself as an alternative to the establishment. I ran to the right of him ideologically, and he even admitted to me after the race was over that he probably wasn’t as conservative as me. I just tried to be honest and be myself. I have to confess that I found the teacher issue a hard one to navigate. I had a teaching certificate and had done a lot of substitute teaching. I also came from a family of teachers. So I felt like I could relate to teachers and knew what their concerns were. At the same time, though, I didn’t attend the protests, and I got asked if I did. While I supported teachers, I didn’t support the strike because I felt like it was unfair to the kids. I also wasn’t a fan of the unions. So I felt like I was threading a needle most of the time.

As far as social media goes, I posted campaign updates on my personal Facebook page for friends and family. I had an official Twitter page for my campaign where I posted my positions on issues and reminders to vote. I did receive a couple of questions from voters on social media about where I stood on certain issues like vaccines. Other questions I received while out knocking doors were how I felt about the 2nd Amendment, whether or not I supported President Trump, and what I could do about getting tornado shelters in schools.

On Election Day, I stood on the corner of a major intersection with a sign early in the morning as polls opened. My dad and stepmom also did the same. In the evening as people were getting off work, I stood at a different intersection holding a sign. Of course, in between I went to the polls and had the surreal experience of voting for myself.

The result felt a little anti-climatic. I went home and checked for results online. I went to the local news websites as well as to the county election board’s site. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that I wasn’t going to win. The race was over fairly early in the night. It was disappointing, but not entirely surprising.

So why did I lose? I was running against an incumbent who had grown up in the town, so name recognition played a big factor. He was also conservative enough so people were probably hesitant to vote him out for someone they didn’t know as well when he already matched up with their values. With the support of the establishment, like Republican insiders and the Chamber of Commerce, he had a lot more funds than I did. Also, the teacher issue dominated the campaign, and he was supported by the state teachers’ union, OEA. I could not support them because I had a fundamental difference in values and beliefs on social issues. I wanted to focus on these social issues in the campaign, but those weren’t the topics primarily on voters’ minds. Also, I could have knocked on more doors. I regret not being able to get to everyone on the list that had been sent to me.

So why did I run? It was a dream of mine to be involved in politics, and I felt like with all the public’s frustration with state leaders, it might be an opportune time. It was a good experience, but I think I found out that my personality is not really suited for public office.

The evening after the election I drove around town and picked up my signs. I had made a list of where I had placed them so I would remember. I threw most of them out, but I saved a few for sentimental reasons. I talked briefly with a young man who was picking up signs for my opponent. He gave me a nice compliment about how he thought I had run a good campaign. Later, I called his boss, the incumbent who had won the race, and congratulated him. We had a cordial conversation, and I told him I would support him in the general election. I even put one of his signs in my yard. It felt good to unify as Republicans in order to defeat the Democrats on the other side.

What is my advice to anyone thinking about running? I guess I would say five things: 1) Stay true to your principles and who you are. You will be tempted to just tell people what they want to hear, but stand strong for what you believe; 2) Don’t have a win-at-any-cost attitude. Treat people with respect, even your opposition. Attack only on the issues, and don’t engage in personal attacks; 3) Make sure you have plenty of cash. Decide ahead of time whether or not you are going to accept money from special interests. Be honest and above reproach in your campaign finances; 4) Know the issues well and where you stand on them. Know why you are running and what your goals are if you are elected; 5) Be sure you are ready to lose your privacy and anonymity. There is scrutiny and pressure associated with being in the public eye which private citizens do not have to deal with.

A Little More Perspective Needed in Little League

I’m glad my sons are on good baseball teams, where the coaches and parents keep things in perspective. They do a good job in remembering that in Little League, the focus should be on learning the game, having fun, and making friends. But we’ve been on teams in the past, where the coaches and parents had a mindset that winning was all that mattered, even if that meant sacrificing what was best for the kids. This brief article will discuss that hideous underbelly of sports I got to see in past years.

I witnessed coaches and parents using foul language to berate umpires who were just trying to do their best; six-year olds with walk-up songs; and tournaments nearly every weekend, including Sundays. Three-hundred dollar bats; one-thousand dollars per player fundraisers; two-hour a day workouts in the offseason; and players playing on multiple teams because 79 games in a 6U Spring Season wasn’t enough. This is the sad state of affairs in Little League baseball these days. One has to wonder if the kids are even having fun anymore, or is it all about the adults?

You’d think we were talking about the major leagues here, but sadly we’re not. Parents and coaches have lost all perspective when it comes to sports. Baseball is supposed to be enjoyable. In Little League, kids should be learning how to play the game and having fun. Instead, they are playing so much baseball under such intense pressure, they are often burned out by the time they get to high school.

Who is looking out for the kids? Sadly, it’s not the parents or coaches. We are failing them. What example are we setting when coaches treat the umpires with such disrespect? When music is blasted containing vulgar lyrics? When we can’t go to church because we have to go to the ball field? When we spend hundreds of dollars on a bat for t-ball? What exactly are we teaching our kids?

We should remember that it’s just Little League. It’s just a ball game. It’s not worth humiliating the umpire, missing church, going in debt, or ruining a kid’s love of the game because he didn’t make the team or get to play.

Parents and coaches, you should ask yourself these questions: Is my kid having fun? Are we taking this too seriously? What example are we setting for these kids? Are they going to be burned out by the time they get older? Are we doing all this for us or the kids?

A little perspective is sorely needed. We need to quit trying to keep up with everyone else. Let’s take a step back and think about what really matters. Little league should not take over your life. As much as I love baseball, it shouldn’t get this serious this soon. It should be fun. If it’s not, then let’s go home.

The Badlands Are My Happy Place

I was blessed this summer to visit the Badlands for the second time in five years. I enjoyed it probably even more the second time because my wife and I were able to share the experience with our kids.

I love the Badlands because of the otherworldly feeling it stirs in me. It might be compared to walking on a moonscape. It is one of the most unique places I’ve ever experienced. The Badlands are also quiet and lonely. If you want to be by yourself in near total silence, the Badlands are the place to go. And the optimal time of the day to go in my mind is in the evening at sunset. You will enjoy incredible, panoramic views in a photographer’s dreamscape.

“…I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands….what I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere…” Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935

I’m a fan of the original series of Star Trek from the 1960’s. If you’ve seen it, you probably remember the strange colored skies when the crew beams down to various planets. The Badlands sort of remind me of those sets. You’ll see colors and hues that you’re not used to seeing everyday. It’s an eerie experience, but in a good way.

There is an intangible quality about the Badlands that touch you in a special way. We prayed as a family in the park, thanking God for the beauty of His creation. When we left the park this time, my wife played some Christian hymns in the car over the radio. I felt a peace and perspective that wasn’t there before.

So if you haven’t been to the Badlands, I encourage you to go. The first time we went, we made the mistake of trying to go in from the south, and we ended up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. You probably don’t want to take that route because it’s not where the heart of the park lay. If you’re near Rapid City, you’ll want to take I-90 East and get off at exit 110 at Wall (if you have time, you can visit Wall Drug Store, a pretty unique place as well). Then go South on the 240 Badlands Loop Road until you get to the Pinnacles Entrance. If you’re coming in on I-90 West, then you can take exit 131, and head south for the 240 Badlands Loop Road, using the Northeast Entrance (there is a Minuteman Missile National Historic Site nearby that we didn’t get to visit). There is a fee to get into the Badlands that is based upon how many passengers are in your car. We paid $30 to get in.

You can drive through the park fairly quickly. Along the road, there are scenic overlooks where you can get out of your car and enjoy spectacular views. There are also some walking trails. You should reserve at least two hours for the park. But you’ll probably need more time if you really want to explore the park in depth. You could easily spend a whole day there if you wanted. If you have little kids, be careful at the Pinnacles Overlook. There is steep, sharp terrain, and it is important to watch your step when you get out of the car.

The first time we went we ran out of daylight near the end of the Badlands Loop Road, but there was a cafe in the park that we ate at. I remember the food being pretty tasty, and there was also a nice gift shop where you can get some souvenirs and t-shirts. There is also a Visitor Center nearby.

Don’t miss the Notch, Door, and Window Trails near the Northeast Entrance. This is one of the best views in the park, especially at sunset. If you enter at the Pinnacles Entrance, this will be near the end of the loop before you exit. We actually missed it the first time we went because it was dark when we drove by it. We almost missed it this time as well, but my wife mentioned it as we drove by, and we got out to look at it. I’m so glad we did. The picture above is from the Notch overlook.

The Badlands are probably one of the most underrated National Parks. Many people haven’t even heard of it. But it is definitely worth a trip to South Dakota to check it out. And there are plenty of other things to see in southwest South Dakota as well–like a place you may have heard of, Mount Rushmore.

Historic Win for the Unborn at Supreme Court in Dobbs Case

Praise the Lord! This is a day that we’ve prayed for, fought for, voted for, and hoped for—for many years. The Lord has answered our prayers.

The Supreme Court released its decision this morning in the Dobbs v. Jackson case concerning a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks. The Court upheld the Mississippi law in a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the conservative justices. In a 5-4 vote (with Roberts joining the three liberal justices), the Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, and return the issue to the states. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been wobbly on a lot of cases in the past, thought overturning Roe and Casey went too far.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

—Excerpt from Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the Dobbs case

The decision was not much of a surprise, considering the fact that Alito’s opinion had been leaked on May 2. The question was whether the conservative justices would stand their ground under immense pressure from the Left. Much drama unfolded in the intervening weeks, including protests at the justices’ houses and an assassination attempt of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It is quite instructive to look at how all of this unfolded in the past few years. President Trump was able to place three of the five justices (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett) on the Court who voted to overturn Roe in the Dobbs case. Trump followed through on his campaign promise to appoint pro-life justices to the Court. This ruling helps cement President Trump’s legacy as one of the most pro-life presidents in history. Even Ronald Reagan, adored by conservatives, wasn’t able to perform this feat. Conservatives were often disappointed by Reagan’s and both Bushes’ picks to the Court.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

The only disappointing thing about the day was the silence and tepid reaction by some Big Eva types. They seemed to want to tamp down the enthusiasm of pro-life Christians out of fear of upsetting those who may be on the other side of the issue. But we shouldn’t let these evangelical elites diminish our enthusiasm. This is a day to rejoice!

We praise the Lord again for this wonderful victory. This is the result of years of prayer and hard work by pro-life activists. We should learn from this to never give up! Let us give thanks to the Lord, and we give all glory to God!

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” 1 Chron 16:34

SBC: The Game is Rigged

Newly elected SBC President Bart Barber

I watched some of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in Anaheim online, and my suspicion that the SBC game is rigged was confirmed. The elites on the platform, like Ed Litton, were in full control, and the average messenger had little to no say in what transpired. The disdain that the Ed Litton’s have for the average messenger is disgusting. If messengers are treated this disrespectfully and not allowed to make their voices heard, what is the point of the annual meeting except to promote the agenda of the powerful elites in charge of the entities?

Predictably, the moderate candidate, Brett Barber, defeated the conservative one, Tom Ascol, for the SBC Presidency. This was a major blow to conservatives. Furthermore, Litton rudely interrupted Jennifer Buck as she was speaking at the microphone and basically shut her down. Apparently, the SBC Credentials Committee couldn’t find the courage to disfellowship from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, which is ordaining women pastors. They decided to revisit the issue in the future sometime. I also watched as the elites rallied to defeat a motion to replace an ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) trustee, who had already served his term, with a humble pastor. The elites seem to always defend their own.

One messenger stood up and made a motion that the contact information of the trustees of the various SBC entities would be made readily available. He explained that he could not reach the trustees by voicemail or email, and he could not find a valid address for them. It is hard to effect change when the trustees won’t make themselves available to people.

It’s disheartening to watch conservatives get their hopes up each year, thinking that this year might be different, while knowing that it won’t be. The outcomes are virtually predetermined by those in power, those who love the status quo. Let me also just say that the method of counting votes does not promote confidence in the integrity of the system. How can those on the platform determine whether or not there’s a 2/3 majority in two seconds just by looking at the raised ballots?

And it’s not just this way at the annual meeting. It’s this way at the SBC throughout the year, even down to the local church. I’ve experienced similar frustration myself. I was in a committee meeting at a church, and the pastor at the time said that when he would see someone walk into the church, he saw a dollar sign over his head as he thought about all the money that person was going to tithe. That one statement confirmed my worst suspicions that for some in the SBC, it is simply about bringing in the money and numbers, or as one pastor put it, nickels and noses.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you genuinely want to serve the Lord and you are an outspoken conservative, those in power in the SBC will make it hard for you. They will blacklist you. They want company men who are going to play the game and participate in the good ole boys’ club. SBC leaders don’t care about the truth that much. They just want you to be winsome and nice. Because they care more about what people think than what God thinks.

So I’m about done with the SBC. I can’t follow leaders who are afraid to be authentic and take bold stands for the truth. I can’t take the “nice” fakeness that ignores the problems at hand. The SBC is becoming a toxic environment in which I feel more and more alienated. And I don’t want to play that rigged game anymore.

Top Gun: Maverick— A Great, Non-Woke, Pro-American Movie

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

It was with great anticipation that we went to see the new movie, Top Gun: Maverick, which is the sequel to the original that came out in 1986. Maverick was supposed to be released in 2019, but it was delayed twice—once for technical reasons and again because of the COVID pandemic. Let me just say that it was well worth the wait. It is a very entertaining film. It has the potential to single-handedly revitalize the struggling movie industry. The word of mouth on this movie is off-the-charts.

In this latest film, Tom Cruise’s character, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, again finds himself on the outs with Navy leadership after a disastrous stint as a test pilot . But his old friend, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, played by Val Kilmer, asks him to come to Top Gun to teach a new crop of students and prepare them for a special mission. The catch is that one of the young pilots is Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Goose, Maverick’s former wingman, who was killed in an accident in the first film while flying with Maverick.

One of the great things about this movie is that it works on all levels—story, action, special effects, acting, writing, etc. Not only is the movie extremely entertaining, it is full of great lines and moments that suggest a non-woke and pro-American perspective.

First of all, there is no LGBT or social justice agenda in the film (and that is refreshing)—just an old-fashioned heterosexual love story between Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly’s characters. When Maverick goes sailing with his new love interest (Kelly McGillis wasn’t asked to return for the sequel), there is also a large American flag on the boat.

Tom Cruise’s character by nature is non-woke. His name, Maverick, means an independent, non-conformist person who dissents or rebels against the conventional way of doing things. This is a very non-woke idea since being woke is all about conformity. When Maverick stands before the young pilots on his first day of teaching, the first thing he does is throw out the tech manual to the F/A-18. He knows that the real world is a lot different than the one the intellectuals imagine it to be.

At one point in the movie, Cruise justifies his tough treatment of the young pilots whom he’s training by telling Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson that they have been told their whole lives that they are the best, and he suggests that they need a reality check for this mission. I see this line as an attack on the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality so prevalent in our current culture.

After Maverick is relieved of his duties by the above mentioned vice admiral, Maverick jumps in his F/A-18 and shows them that the mission can be done. This goes along with his “Do, don’t think” advice that he gives to Rooster. This is another example of non-wokism since the woke left is always lecturing people about something they themselves won’t do.

A man versus technology theme also runs throughout the film. The issue of why Americans were having to go up against an enemy with fifth-generation fighters was subtly raised. America has fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning, but in this film the Americans are flying fourth-gens. This could be a commentary on how China is beginning to surpass the USA in military technology, but it could also serve to reinforce another piece of advice from Maverick—that it’s not the plane, but the pilot inside, that makes the difference.

The woke have a disdain for the older generation, but in this film, it’s the younger generation who get shown up by the older Maverick. When the young pilots make a deal with Maverick that whoever gets shot down in training has to do push ups, it’s not the instructor who is out sweating on the tarmac.

When Maverick tells Cyclone that completing the mission isn’t enough—that he also wants the pilots to come home afterwards, I thought of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Now the film was made before that event. But this line could be seen as a criticism of the callousness of political elites, who no longer show the same concern that they once did for the men and women in uniform making sacrifices for freedom.

One of the most touching scenes is when Maverick goes to see Iceman, who has throat cancer. This plot line reflected reality as the actor Val Kilmer also had cancer. Iceman tells Maverick that he chose him to teach these pilots because the Navy needs people like him. I especially liked this line considering the woke infiltration of our military in recent years. Iceman also encourages Maverick to let go of the past so he can help Rooster and teach him what he needs to learn. It was great to see these two veteran actors together in this emotional scene.

Some interesting trivia about the film: the P-51 Mustang in the film was Tom Cruise’s own plane; also, according to PopSugar.com, the actors had to go through several hours of actual flight training, including experiencing 8 G’s. In addition, there was a Taiwanese flag on the back of Maverick’s leather jacket that was taken out for the trailer but later put back in. When it was put back in, China became upset. A Chinese investor in the film also pulled out when relations between the United States and China soured.

The film does a good job of combining elements from the first movie with new characters and plot lines. Maverick brings nostalgia and excitement at the same time. It touches your heart, but it’s also an adrenaline rush that packs plenty of action into 2 hours and 10 minutes. Who knows? You may even get to see an F-14 Tomcat make an appearance. That was the icing on the cake for me.

Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the first film. This new film will entertain you, but it will also make you proud to be an American. And that is something that is rare these days in Hollywood. The film is rated PG-13 for language.

The Passion to Fight

On Sandy Rios in the Morning the other day, Sandy made the comment that a culture of niceness in the church has destroyed the passion to fight. There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

I don’t think she was saying that we shouldn’t be loving or kind. After all, Ephesians 4:32 tells us:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

And the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 16:14:

“Let all that you do be done with love.”

So clearly we are to be kind and loving towards one another. However, our society has taken these admonitions to the wrong extreme so that people view speaking the truth as hateful or unloving. In fact, speaking the truth is one of the most loving things you can do. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that love:

“…does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”

In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul says that those who do not love the truth will believe lies and delusions in the end times as judgment from God. It is a love for the truth that makes us courageous enough to fight for it. We must love the truth more than other things. We must choose orthodoxy over fraternity.

But many don’t want to do that. They would just like to get along with everyone and not rock the boat. There’s not much love for the truth or fight in them.

There is a direct correlation between our love for the truth and our willingness to fight. If the truth means little to us, then we will think the cost of standing for it (losing friends, popularity, money, etc.) to be too much. But if we value the truth, we will be willing to fight for it.

“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23

A Ship is Safe in the Harbor….

The World History teacher I had in my junior year of high school had quotes posted all over his classroom wall. One in particular caught my attention:

A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. —John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

I can’t tell you the impact that statement had upon me. It stuck with me long after high school. I was a shy kid who found it hard to meet new people and fit in socially. But after thinking upon that maxim, I decided I would have to learn to take risks.

I don’t think you’ve really lived until you know the full range of the human experience. It gives you a perspective that helps you see beyond the immediate situation. It grounds you.

I’ve loved and lost, and loved again. I’ve known rejection, but I’ve also known the thrill of romance. I’ve known triumph as well as defeat. I’ve been on mountaintops, but I’ve also suffered in deep valleys.

You will be rewarded for your risks and failures if you persist in the pursuit of your dreams. Don’t expect to stand on the heights if you aren’t willing to fall down many times. It reminds me of another quote from Teddy Roosevelt that had a big impact upon me as well:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”—Theodore Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

That last line about the cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat resonated with me. I saw myself going down that path. But I decided to step out in faith and take small risks one at a time. Those efforts built upon one another until gradually I felt my courage grow.

Sometimes I still take the safe path and listen to my fear instead of faith. But as I look back I can honestly say I’ve know both victory and defeat. I’ve taken chances. Sometimes I failed, and sometimes I’ve succeeded. I have sweet memories of adventure and romance that I would not have experienced had I stayed in the harbor.

Yes, it’s dangerous and scary out on the high seas. But consider the alternative. Picture a boat sitting there in the harbor day after day failing to fulfill the purpose for which it was built. That’s a sad picture, indeed.