I love definitions because they help focus the mind. For decades, we are said to have been in a culture war. As in any war, it helps to know one’s enemy.

One online dictionary defines culture this way: “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.”

One secondary definition is under the subheading anthropology: “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.” I especially like that second definition.

So culture is a sum total. It is also about ways of living by more than a few humans, with all of that being willed to succeeding generations.

Those of a certain age remember what their parents or grandparents transmitted to them following the Great Depression and World War II. It was the sum total of values and beliefs they shared, the values held by those Tom Brokaw correctly labeled the greatest generation.

Yes, they were imperfect, just as we are, sinners incapable of saving themselves apart from God’s mercy and grace. But they saved a nation — several nations — because they embodied the things that mattered most in life: duty, honor and country. They not only wanted to restore such things to Europe and preserve them for America, but also sought to pass these down to their children and grandchildren. They had learned them from their parents. It is why they went to war, and although thousands did not come back, their values remained, at least until the self-indulgent 1960s and the generation that followed (as critiqued in my 1994 book, “The Things That Matter Most”).

Today that clash of their culture with ours is stark. My grandmother once admonished me for using words she said nice young men don’t say in public. The words that offended her were toilet paper. Imagine what this woman, born in 1888, would think of the words heard on TV, in movies and on the streets today.

Return to the definition given earlier and particularly notice the words built up. This suggests to me that the way to change a culture is not from the top down but from the bottom up, not through Washington but through the human heart and individual choices.

It might be too late for that, but it is not too late to make choices for ourselves and for our families, especially where we send our young children to school. It amazes me that so many parents — conservative and Christian parents — see no problem in sending their children to state schools, where they learn they evolved from slime and the reason they like bananas on their cereal is that their nearest relative is at the zoo.

OK, I exaggerate, but not by much. If your child is a soldier, would you be OK if he or she were trained in a country that was the enemy of the United States? Doesn’t the question answer itself? Why, then, would you knowingly and willingly send your child to a school — and then a university — that undermines the values, beliefs and faith you have tried to teach them?

Don’t answer that you want them to be ambassadors for God. I have met many ambassadors, and none are 8-year-olds. Children, like soldiers, must be trained and indoctrinated with the knowledge and principles of the nation (or kingdom) they are expected to serve. Look up two words in a concordance. They are teach and learn. The verses in Scripture that include these words instruct godly parents in what God expects when it comes to children on loan to us for a brief time.

Legions of young men and women taught such things will build up a culture and ultimately a nation. It is the only way to win a culture war.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

(47) comments

public-redux

Cal is promoting the “Benedict Option” popularized by Rod Dreher. I agree with Thomas and Dreher that they should not use government to impose their values on everyone. Public institutions should be welcoming to all. The best way to do that is by remaining secular.

Because Thomas appears to have a particular concern about a subset of Christianity and its influence on US culture, it is worth noting that the fraction of Americans who self-identify as any sort of Christian is smaller than it has ever been in our history. Fewer than two-thirds now. And if you count only True Christians (TM) (using any of the readily available definitions), then the fraction is almost certainly well below 50%.

So keep fighting your culture war, Cal. Onward, (True) Christian soldiers! Thoughts and earnest wishes! Thanks for honoring the separation of church and state.

Obadiah Plainsmen

How many readily available definitions of True Christians are there. And if I dare ask, what is your definition of a True Christian?

public-redux

How many? No idea. Tons of them. Some of the more common ones are that Catholics aren’t TCs; Protestants aren’t TCs; only confessional Christians are TCs. Getting Christianity “right” is probably the most important explanation for the existence of more than 40,000 Christian sects. One frequent commenter on this site once opined that people who do bad things aren’t really Christian. Almost as if Christians don’t sin.

Roger E. Olsen is a Christian theologian of the Arminian persuasion who dismisses the beliefs of many Christians as “folk religion”. See here:

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2020/01/i-interrupt-this-series-with-a-sidebar-about-folk-religion/

My definition: Christians are people who believe that Jesus is divine and that such belief is necessary for salvation from sin.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it no matter how many Christians attack me for it.

Obadiah Plainsmen

You quoted a lot of material but failed to mention the book (John 3: 3-8) where you find the True definition of a “True Christian or True Believer . The bottom line is that not all who profess to have faith in Jesus Christ possess faith in Jesus Christ. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. Matthew 7 : 13-14

awteam2000

Obadiah stop, you are as much a Christian as my cat is a dog. Please don’t associate yourself with me. I find it offensive. And you don’t understand the scriptures you’re reading.🤦‍♂️

public-redux

OB, So you agree with me and disagree with lots of Christians. [thumbup]

Obadiah Plainsmen

Aw I’m glad I offend and your dog , maybe you will study the Bible more. Obviously it upsets you.

public-redux

aw, What makes you say that Obadiah isn’t Christian? By what standard or definition?

phydeaux994

One that doesn’t think that a hateful, vindictive, racist like DJ Trump isn’t “The Chosen One” and is good for America.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Phy It’s in God’s hands one will never know until death do we part.

phydeaux994

True OP, and a lot of “True Christians” will be in for a Rude Awakening. My opinion. I tried until my late 30’s but couldn’t take any more “True Christians”. I’ll try for Heaven on my own.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Ok but one last question, does who you vote for have any bearing on whether you go to heaven?

DickD

Donald Trump only believes in himself. His religion is the almighty dollar.

phydeaux994

It sure does OP, if the person you vote for is the antithesis of the values your Religion professes.

Obadiah Plainsmen

I guess that makes sense when your religion is your politics. I’m sure we will soon find out the meaning of a divided house will not stand.

public-redux

"does who you vote for have any bearing on whether you go to heaven?"

Of course not.

awteam2000

It was alway better in the “good old days. Really?

A friend once described life in regards to family and workplace as a treadmill. You’re forced, to some degree, to keep up with technology and changing social nuances because life requirements demand it. But as one gets older, closer to or retired it often harder to keep up with the changes. Not in the loop, feeling left behind. So they become frustrated, they pushback, claiming “ back in the good old days life was better”.

“But can this really be right? After all, if we really think that things were better then we should imagine that if we can ‘roll back time’ we should see life as getting steadily better.

"But going back in time would lead us through, among other things, slavery, civil war, women not having the right to vote, segregation, two world wars, increases in infant mortality, shortening life expectancy, and the loss of all the technological inventions and social changes that have made our lives easier - washing machines, ovens, electricity, women’s suffrage, civil rights and so on, and so on.

Public schools have provided reading, writing and arithmetic to the masses, leading advancements in our society and quality of life.

But don’t be discouraged - Trump is just a hiccup. We’ll get beyond this cultural insult.

threecents

Definitely an "OK Boomer" column.

Obadiah Plainsmen

The battle of the generations, The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”

hayduke2

And what generation do you belong to OB

Obadiah Plainsmen

Due to the excellent public education I received I was taught that because of my birth year I belong to the generation that is known as baby boomer. Now the one thing that my excellent public education did not teach me was who is or was the genius/es responsible for the conclusion of determining the exact length of a generation and the name attached to it. Was it Brokaw?

threecents

I am a boomer too OP, but you are an OK Boomer.

hayduke2

Three. [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Obadiah Plainsmen

Leave to Democrats to affix labels to people. You invented the N word and you just keep on inventing.

hayduke2

Sure ob[lol]

Piedmontgardener

The world changes. Whether one can deal with it or not. But this column offers that change is a war. And that's just a dangerous mindset.

hayduke2

"Children, like soldiers, must be trained and indoctrinated with the knowledge and principles of the nation (or kingdom) they are expected to serve. " REALLY, this is what you think education should be?? Who makes the decision of what knowledge and principles are the norm? I prefer individuals who can think for themselves, are not puppets and make decisions based on their own skills and knowledge.

hayduke2

"see no problem in sending their children to state schools, where they learn they evolved from slime and the reason they like bananas on their cereal is that their nearest relative is at the zoo." What a ludicrous and inflamatory statement! It amazes me that any thinking human would believe this is what public education does! The author of this article is ill informed and pushing bunk.

jsklinelga

hayduke2

You left out his next sentence where he admits it is an exaggeration. No doubt this column is somewhat brazen and hyperbolic but that may be intentional. Just this morning, after posting I talked with someone who was quitting the school system. I told them I felt a twinge of remorse for my earlier negative post. We were in a samll group. You should have heard the instantaneous, loud litany of complaints and condemnations of the current system. Cal Thomas is not pushing bunk.

hayduke2

Jsk -Not everyone is cut out to teach! Good for them for realizing it.

public-redux

“We were in a samll group.”

Small self-selected groups are not necessarily indicative of the views of large numbers of people.

phydeaux994

I don’t know who’s kids you know jsk, but I have been around kids from 0 to 18 and young adults, generation after generation, poor to rich, educated in Public Schools, for the last 60 years and counting. Good kids, smart kids, ambitious kids, successful kids that belie your jaded, negative and absolutely false views. You sound like a bitter, lonely, man jsk. I feel bad for you. ☹️

hayduke2

Phy-[ban][thumbup][thumbup]. Whether accurate or not that is sure how the posts come off. Kind of playing the victim too.

public-redux

“Kind of playing the victim too.”

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

hayduke2

Phy- not sure how the “ban” got posted- fat fingers typing😊

gary4books

Hay - pure bunk. [thumbup][thumbup]

Obadiah Plainsmen

Cal, you missed the whole point of today's culture. Nobody is qualified to preach about morals, values, ethics, scripture when they voted for President Trump. Anyway God gave mankind free will. Mankind is free to destroy whatever mankind built. mankind built America and mankind will destroy America. Probably sooner than anyone thought.

gary4books

Again Mr. Thomas has a perspective on events that is different from my views. Today we have people who oppose vaccinations for diseases. The injections expose children to pathogens and their immune systems devise means to protect them. And when I was going to college, I had a choice. I could go to a religious school and they promised I would not have any "communist" or "atheist" as teachers. Instead, I went to a State College (Texas Tech) and was exposed to many different views. I picked my own way through the process. But now I do know the difference between "socialist" and "sociable." Parents and students should make this decision, but exposure o information does not mean all is lost. It may give some defense.

hayduke2

Gary- [thumbup][thumbup]. Isn’t the point of education to make one capable of wading through the available information and then form a decision?

jsklinelga

Wow! What is frightening about this besides the content is the title. We joke but it is hard to imagine America not splintering to the point of expiration

Brazen! Public education and state schools are akin to indoctrination in enemy training camps. What is frightening is that many now, and a growing number, believe in part, that to be true. Personally I would not want my grand kids attending public schools. And couple that with the questionable ethics and power of the BoE to control the politics, public education is truly becoming "the enemy.

And what is truly, truly frightening is that this has transcended political debate and idle chatter but is a stone cold reality. A growing number of people in this country feel alienated. Consider the FNP today. For months we have witnessed a one sided, media propelled assault on an American Presidency resulting in the first ever totally partisan Impeachment process. Then, when the President's position is finally allowed to be presented outside the complete control of the partisan attackers, it has no coverage. People better wake up. Nothing is automatic. It is possible that America may be expiring. Consider the rally in Virginia last week.

olefool

Nothing more than Putin talking points offered by jsk.... I wonder, were you or any of your kids, if you had any, educated in public schools..

matts853

No one is more asleep than JSK. He doesn’t even think “Z” is a reference to Zelensky in all the text message evidence. Ignorance on that high of a level cannot be countered by any measure of facts and common sense. #lost

jsklinelga

matt853

Just for your information:

"House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) likely mistook texts between Lev Parnas and Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma, as messages between the former Rudy Giuliani associate and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to unredacted documents reviewed by Politico.

In a letter from Schiff to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), the California Democrat alleges that Parnas “continued to try to arrange a meeting with President Zelensky” and cites a redacted text exchange between Parnas and Giuliani about “trying to get us mr Z.”

After reviewing an unredacted version of the exchange, Politico found that Parnas again referenced “mr Z” days later during an exchange with Giuliani about his notes from an interview with Zlochevsky. No names are shown in the transcript, but the questions and answers center around Burisma and its business practices."

DickD

Have you ever heard of "brain washing". Jim? Members of the cult are!

jsklinelga

DickD

Not sure of your comment. Certainly Politico is not an ultra right wing publication. Please explain.

awteam2000

Trump is a slimeball.

https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/audio-appears-capture-trump-ukraine-ambassador-fired-68516528

olefool

Here's the entire article, kinda makes your comments look a lot Hippocratic: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/21/schiff-parnas-trump-evidence-101832

Most interesting: The apparent mischaracterization, however, does not undercut Democrats' argument that Trump withheld critical military aid to Ukraine as a way to pressure Zelenksy into opening up investigations into the Bidens, including Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who was once a board member on Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company.

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