Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Purpose of Prayer

The editor of our monthly newsletter has asked me to write articles on prayer. Here is the first installment. I am limited to 300 words. This is tough!


Many Christians see prayer as a chore. It is ritualised. We say words that have no meaning. They seem to go no further then the ceiling. Our minds are stuck. We cry out to God when it’s convenient, or we’re desperate.

Our prayer life does not have to be this way. Prayer is talking to God. What do we talk about? It was hot. I had a hard day. I need money. I’m lonely. All of these. Isaiah reminds us: “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1 NASB)

Let’s get back to the purpose of prayer. There are 2 things to learn. The purpose of prayer is talking and communicating with God. As we begin to be transparent in our prayer life, we discover the same thing about prayer that author C.S. Lewis tell us: “Prayer changes ME!”

How has prayer changed your life? When you pray for someone, a friend perhaps, do you just say: “Lord, please bless so and so.” Prayer requires us to invest a little time in the life of another. Can you pray for someone without using the word bless? You can if you take a moment as our Pastor demonstrates to us in asking: “How can I pray for you today?”

Our focus in prayer is NOT me. It should be on advancing the Kingdom. “Thy will be done.” Not ours. What is your agenda in prayer? Is is to get your needs met, or do we say: “Lord I’m available to you today. Please use me, and grant me your grace and your wisdom, so I can be a reflection of your mercy and compassion to others.”

Remembering May 4, 1970 — Kent State University

Updated May 4, 2015 (45th Anniversary)

The politics of the 1970’s were as politically divisive, as they were polarizing. The protest movements borne of the Vietnam War, would help spark a revolution both on the political and social landscapes. It was part of dinner table discussions. We all sat around the television screen, as the Vietnam war unfolded on TV sets all across the nation. “How could these collage age Americans protest a war, thousands of miles away, while poor kids were being slaughtered?” They were branded by most, as cowards, and decidedly, un-American. “My country right or wrong, is still my country!” was the loud resound of my Father. I was not convinced.

A handful of millennials, grasp the underpinnings that played out in the early years of the 1970’s. We don’t see demonstrations these days, that fundamentally changed the political scenery. I am here to remind a generation of that metamorphosis.

There were always demonstrations regarding the unpopular Vietnam war. In late April, 1970, then President Nixon, desperately searching for an exit strategy, announced the American incursion of the Vietnamese War, into uncharted territory: Cambodia. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) provided to be a formidable opponent. Many thousands of lives were lost in the span of 2 months.

This is my own story.

I would turn 18 in July of 1970. Before my birthday that year, was high school graduation. Many people waited till after graduation in mid-June to apply for a student deferment from the Draft. I did NOT wait. I applied for a student deferment 6 months prior to my birthday, in January. Because I had taken college level courses between my junior and senior year of high school, I demonstrated to the draft board, my intention on seeking higher education. The draft board took note of that, and I was granted a student deferment. That didn’t mean I was a draft dodger. It merely put off my eligibility for the military induction draft, until I had completed my education. It bought me 3 years.

Just after High School graduation in June, a few weeks later, in July, all student deferments were cancelled. I was okay, because I already had a student deferment. iI you didn’t have one, you would have to report for military service. I come from a very proud military family. My father having served 20 years in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Sandwiched in-between the amazing heroism of Apollo 13, and High School Graduation, was an event like no other. May 4, 1970, 12:22 eastern time. Four Students protesting the war’s incursion into Cambodia, were fatally shot. Civil disobedience wasn’t just something you saw on tv. These were kids my age, gunned down, for speaking and expressing an idea that was unpopular with most of America. Civil Disobedience once again had birth pangs. The Gay Rights movement gained a footing here from the unexpected sacrifice, at Kent State University.

Singers and Songwriters became spokesmen for my generation: Woody Gutheie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSN&Y), The Mamas and the Papas. “Four Dead in Ohio” by CSN&Y is a constant reminder of that turbulent moment in history. The sites and sounds of that day, are like last week.

This was close. This was personal. I was forever transformed. Many from the baby boomer generation, can still recall what they were doing that day. I was in my civics class. Being taught by a student teacher. A rabble rouser. Part of the SDS. (Students for a Democratic Society) One who spoke the truth that day, that I did NOT want to hear, but whose voice beckoned me to listen. To watch. To look. To cry. To finally understand, the true cost of civil disobedience: death at the hands of National Guardsmen. Exonerated from any wrong doing, they had fired 67 rounds in just 13 seconds. Their shots echoed far into the conscious mind for those astute enough, to comprehend. It echoed so deeply into my soul, that I knew I could NOT be a part of any war. I have remained a pacifist from that very day.

I can well understand the protests in Baltimore. The tree of liberty is watered with blood. This time, not soldiers. Innocent civilians whose only crime was not locking a goose step to the edicts expounded by the Nixon administration.

The current administration, led by Mr. Obama, is still clinching to an antiquated pattern of behaviour. Searching for an exit strategy, that doesn’t exist.

As a society we must decry the hypocrisy, and forge anew in our hearts, the purpose and cause of peace, that others so valiantly scarified.

“Warriors may be forged in the fires of battle but heroes are discovered in the most unlikely of places.” (The Light Brigade, Outer Limits)



Originally published, May 4, 2008

Kent State, May 4, 1970

May 4, 1970

Nestled between the amazing heroism of Apollo 13, and High School Graduation, is a little known event: May 4, 1970, 12:22 pm (eastern time).

Other then becoming a Christian, this event would have a significant, long lasting effect, and play a very prominent role in my life.

Exercising First Amendment Rights, the students of Kent State University in Ohio, had gathered to protest the Vietnam War’s incursion into Cambodia.

On that fateful day, Students: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Glen Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder (Kent State) were brutally shot to death by Ohio National Guardsmen. In just 13 seconds, they had fired 67 rounds.

The impact of this incident, coming just six weeks before my high school graduation, changed me utterly and profoundly. As I pondered the realities or war, wrestled with the meaning of life, I came to the realisation that wars solve nothing.

On that day, in that hour, I was transformed into a life of pacifism, by the sacrifice made by these individuals.

I finally understood the messengers of passive-resistance: Ghandi, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the 38th Anniversary.

An Interview with Eustacia Cutler

Most anyone who is part of the Autism Community, would recognise the name Dr. Temple Grandin. But would you reckognise the name: Eustacia Cutler?

Some people know immediately. Others have absolutely no clue who this person might be. Eustacia Cutler, is Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother.

What is Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain. As the brain matures, it becomes neurologically (wired) different then what is found in the Neuro-Typical (non-autistic) general population. Approximately 1 percent of the population (1 in 88) are affected by an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I had a few moments with Ms. Cutler at a recent Autism conference held in Tucson. A charming woman, with a distinctive Boston accent.

The Politics of Autism

Autism and Politics. Why isn’t the political system doing anything to help?

There is a great deal that we don’t know. That’s why I am working to develop this fund, the Temple Grandin/Eustacia Cutler fund to support and guide all members of the family. I think basically Autism is a family dis-order.

This is one of the reasons politician’s don’t approach this. They want to be kind. But how do they do this? The part of the problem with the government is they are not always sure what is the most helpful thing to do? I am not sure either. They can’t take care of the situation. In the end, the family is going to take care of the situation. The family is the lynch pin.

This also means, school and therapists. But they [politicians] can’t handle the life problems. They can only guide people and teach them to handle problems themselves.

There are not going to be answers. There are only going to be choices.

Changes to how Autism is diagnosed

Controversy surrounds proposed DSM (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual) changes to remove the diagnosis of Aspergers and roll that into Autism Spectrum Disorder. What is your opinion?

I am not in a position to evaluate it. I will watch it. My role is be an ambassador. To explain and listen to the doctors.

Learning difficulties

Temple is a visual learning. As a child, she was almost a “tape recorder.” What role did hearing playing in her learning process?

We have different ways of connecting neurologically. We are all visual learners in my family. It’s not always information that’s appraised. That’s why I talked about the difference between conceptual thinking and categories. How hard she has to work, for the conceptual thinking, which does NOT come to her neurologically.

Autism Speaks

The organisation Autism Speaks. Do they help? Does they hurt?

Interesting question. People think differently. It’s corporate thinking. Of course they have done good. They have raised huge amounts of money. They have put a great deal of it into research. All help is good.

A followup question. On several websites, there are posts that say: “Autismspeaks does NOT speak for me.” Comments?

I have no way to appraise this. I see the tremendous need each of us has to hang on to our identify. The fear that particularly High functioning Apsergers have is losing themselves. Research will change them.

At a conference that Margaret Bowman did (from Mass. General Hospital) in Bakersfield California, a young Neurologist was talking about medications. A man stood up and said: “I am Asperger. Is the point of your research to do away with me?”

The Future

A final question. If you could leave one thought to the future generation about Autism, what would you tell them?

Choices. We change. The capacity to change, I think is an extraordinary gift. The choices change us. We have some sense in our neurology of some spirit in us, to be the person we would like to be. In the choices, clarify it for your child. You make the choices for your child to be fulfilled. I would say that. No, Temple is not cured of her Autism. But she is fulfilled. She is fulfilled as she would like to be fulfilled.

The film Temple Grandin is an excellent biopic of Eustacia Cuter, and Dr. Temple Grandin.