[ThisDay] Both Sides of the Story

I had an intriguing idea today.

“I wonder what I was thinking and writing on this day through the ten plus years I’ve been publishing stuff here? I wonder if it’s the same stuff I’m thinking in January of 2014?”

Seemed like an interesting enough activity to share it here with you. (Hello, you!)

For the remainder of this month, I plan to post here my favorite post from that date in GregsHead history, as well as links to the other posts from that day, should you wish to do more reading than just the one that I select.

It should prove to be an interesting study in the cyclical nature of life—or at least… of my own mind? 🙂

Today’s post is really very interesting, primarily because while it was its own post, its initial/primary purpose was to highlight another previous post! (Wow!) Please read as much as time (or interest) allows.

Without further ado, This Day In (GH) History

Both Sides of the Story

January 20th, 2012

I’ve mentioned here many times that I am learning how crucial it is to see life from multiple angles. Getting not only information from people with opposing viewpoints, but really trying to step into their shoes; see from their perspective. It’s just so crucial to communication, to cooperation, interaction… to society in general.

And so often, we—being human, flawed, self-absorbed—we aren’t even aware that there are other legitimate perspectives!

Our son Ian has been very interested in the World War II time period of history. He’s been learning every bit he can not just about the battles, but the people—the leaders in particular—involved in the story. Winston Churchill and FDR, as well as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. He’s previously read about Woodrow Wilson and WWI… definitely has a serious passion for history and biographies!

So much so that Mom (Jen) has even recently taken up a book about Roosevelt titled, “FDR’s Splendid Deception”, about the fact that President Roosevelt was never seen public in his wheelchair, so as to not appear weak. From all accounts, it’s a fascinating story.

Somehow all of this brought to mind a movie I had seen some time back. I posted a mini-review on that movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, and it’s counterpart, Flags of our Fathers, here on this site in 2007. Please go ahead and click the link and read that story. (That’s actually the main reason for this post: that you’d re-read that older post!)

The fascinating thing was, Flags was released first, and then Iwo Jima. They depicted the exact same story from history, but from opposite sides of the battle.

How much better off we’d be if we could do that with nearly every conflict or disagreement!

For a long time now, Jen and I and I have been reading through a modern translation of the Federalist Papers called The Original Argument. In Federalist #1, Alexander Hamilton addresses this subject (in an atmosphere where there were passionate arguments for and against the proposed Constitution):

Since the motives behind each of the opinions are so strong, it is certain that wise and good people will be found on both sides of the issues. This fact should remind us all to remain modest in our opinion—no matter how right we think we are.

I think that is still my favorite quote from all the papers we’ve examined so far. And again, how different would our political climate be today if that were the way everyone approached every issue, whether controversial or relatively benign?

Forget politics. What if we all treated each other that way? What if we presumed that we were not smarter, better, right-er than everyone else around us.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

That’s where it starts. You can’t really even care about the perpective of your adversary or opponent—or anyone—if you know you are in some way (or all ways) superior.

I’d really encourage you to read that post about Letters from Iwo Jima, and as I recommended now almost five years ago, if you haven’t seen it… do.

The more we can see things from other view points, other perspectives, the more we can live at peace with others around us. (Which is what Paul says we need to do in the verse just before what I quoted above.)

So I encourage you to take a walk in someone else’s shoes today. You might be surprised what you see.

Scripture quote is Philippians 2:3-4, from the New Living Translation


  1. I recommend this as a close second for best post on January 20th. Bonus: It’s shorter. 🙂

D-Day: When Things Mattered

Last night we honored D-Day (June 6th) by watching an episode of Ken Burns’: The War (on Netflix). It follows the lives of four guys who lived through WWII, and specifically that day in Normandy.

It invoked so many thoughts and emotions… I certainly can not describe and share them all here.

The one prevailing thought I had, however, was that there is right and wrong.

These guys—just kids—were willing to give up their lives (literally!) in order to go over and make right what someone (or a large group of someones) made wrong… for somebody else!

That can not be emphasized enough.

The aggressors (Nazi Germany) were bent on eradicating the Jews (and just non-Aryans, right?) and were expanding their territory across sovereign nation after sovereign nation until the brave, heroic, persons of principle among the nations stood up and said, “You shall not pass!”

And they truly were brave. Heroes. Righteous. Courageous.

Not that they were flawless human beings. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Some of them were maybe even “bad” guys… but they stood up for what was right. That made them heroes.

They literally gave up their lives (I contend even the guys who didn’t die on D-Day were never the same again)… and it was for other people. Not the US. Not Americans (directly). It was not to expand our territory or influence or whatever… it was just taking a stand against evil.

Some today think that war is always wrong. They think that generations are not different. In a way that is correct: people are people. But there was something in my grandparents’ generation that was different. I’m not sure if it was a product of the circumstances of their day, or if it was that they had not yet removed God and respect and decency and morality from the general fabric of society. Maybe it was both. But whatever it was, we still owe to them (the world, not just America) an incomprehensible, inestimable debt of gratitude.

We mostly argue about ridiculous things today, things that really don’t matter. (We are free to do so in part because of the courageous choices and actions of these men.) Sometimes I think we argue for the sake of arguing. Political gaming. Blagh.

Things matter. People matter. Someday I think we (our nation, and as individuals) will be faced with a similar crisis. At that point, I wonder what that generation will do? Will their descendants someday label them the “greatest generation”? Or will that moniker forever be inexorably bound to the generation whose men bravely stormed the beaches at Normandy… until they had either given up their life, or succeeded in preserving freedom for the world?

I think we will someday find out, one way or another. Somehow we always get to decide if we’re going to stand, or stand by.

On D-Day… (and in many other battles) they chose to stand.

NASA Crushes 2012 Mayan Apocalypse

Well, leave it to the party poopers at NASA to crush the dreams of all of the big fans of Mayan prophesies and general time keeping skills.

It seems that the head of the Near-Earth Objects Program has quite handily decimated any and all the claims of global apocalypse, mayhem, end-of-the-world predictions as well as any of the happier “new beginning” prognostications based on the Mayan calendar ending with December 21, 2012.

It’s a shame, really. I was glad we knew the date… now we’ll never know!

But, leave it to the smart guys at NASA to clear things up for us. You can always count on them!


If you’re curious … enjoy the video above, or read the article.

But, if you do, your dreams will definitely be crushed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you …

A ‘Monumental’ Documentary

I recently came across this trailer, and it is intriguing to me. There is much in this two minute video that I have also wondered, pondered, questioned. (But I also have to ponder how much can one really learn from Mike Seaver? Sorry, Mr. Cameron…) 🙂

Inevitable barriers to communication aside, this really does look interesting. I’m not certain why the event will be live (rather than multiple showings) but here’s what it says on the movie makers’ website:

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in more than 450 major movie theaters, audiences will come together for a live, one-night only theatrical event called MONUMENTAL: IN SEARCH OF AMERICA’S NATIONAL TREASURE, hosted by Kirk Cameron.

There will always be any number of issues that can be found with the culture around us. You know, we all grow up hearing how much better everything was in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, until we are them and then we start saying it. And we meant it. And it’s likely quite true … but it’s a cycle. It’s the human cycle.

All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.

(Romans 3:12)

That’s for always, not just now.

Does that mean then that we just let things go, since they’ll “always be that way”? I would strongly say a firm No! We’re told what is good and right and noble and excellent, and we’re shown it through the life of Jesus … so we know Whom to come to for our Life and what Way works best (especially dealing with how we see and treat others). There is a best way.

I’m curious to see what this particular documentary will say. I was mostly sold where he said everyone is blaming someone else. Very similar to what I have written here, here, here, and even here, and here. (Obviously, this is something I have been thinking about!)

Have you heard of this? What are your thoughts? Can you not get past the Mike Seaver and Left Behind part? (Hopefully you’re better than me at that…)

If we decide to attend, perhaps I’ll give a report here after March 27th. But, before that, if you are moved to do so, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

Being a fan of documentaries, and, having many thoughts on the nature and condition of the church, I was intrigued enough by the title and description of the movie above to click the play button on a recent visit to Hulu.com.

As the video began, I wasn’t entirely sure which “side” was being presented. I like that! I continued to watch and felt that the issues addressed were handled fairly and with an open mind. That’s pretty rare. Usually you just have to filter out the bias, but they really did a decent job of doing that themselves.

There were many eye-opening scenes depicting the blatant ignorance of Christian men and women, young and old, who were simply unaware of the arguments—no, the people—of the “other side”. There were also some incredible moments of true connection between people who really don’t see the world the same in most ways.

One particularly powerful scene was when the filmmakers set up a “Confession Booth” at a gay pride event in Portland, except, rather than taking confessions, they gave them. They confessed (and asked forgiveness for) the church’s treatment of homosexuals, its stance on AIDS, and other related actions taken by the church. The result was a unanimous (at least, what was shown) open, emotional, welcome response to someone for whom they previously harbored great contempt.

What happened was, they listened to each other. Each found a place where they could meet, and treat the other with loving kindness. It’s amazing how powerful that is: in life, and just to watch it unfold on the screen.

When you have some time—a goodly amount of time—I recommend a thoughtful viewing of this documentary. Particularly Christians, but I think the point the filmmakers are trying to make is that it sure helps when we listen to each other, no matter what our worldview. So there’s a bit of something for everyone, for sure.

Also, the filmmakers’ website: www.LordSaveUsTheMovie.com

SCC25: Steven Curtis Chapman Celebrating 25 Years of Music {video}

Steven Curtis Chapman is definitely one of my favorite song writers/musicians. There is something in his music, and the way he says things that I really connect with. More than any other musician I can think of. I’ve written about this many times, including here.

Well apparently 2012 marks 25 years of making music for him. (Publicly/professionally speaking, I’m sure.) That’s a lot! We’re coming up on 17 years, but I dare say he’s been a tad more prolific in his musical output!

Starting a week ago or so, he’s planning to do a weekly video for 25 of his most-loved songs. (I think “most-loved” by people who like his music, but it could be most-loved by him, too?) The videos are six or seven minutes long and feature the story behind the song and a live, acoustic version of the song. The first video (above) was the song Speechless and it was a beautiful version of the song. Somehow when there’s just a guitar and a voice, there’s more room for the words to work their artistry. (As well as an amazingly rich-sounding guitar, played masterfully!)

A super funny sidebar here is that I recently thought of doing a very similar thing with our music! While driving in the van with the kids recently, we “re-discovered” our old basicmm radio podcast (which, is still online, believe it or not!) and I thought it might be something we should start doing again. The shows we recorded were nice reminders of some truth that God showed us in writing or performing the songs, and since we don’t get out to sing very much these kid-raising days, that might be a way that we could still encourage, inspire, and share the Life in us with others. Stay tuned there…

As for this post, just a short one today. I hope you’ll take some of the time saved and listen to the two videos he has already posted. It looks like he’ll be posting them on Wednesdays, and you may be able to view the latest one using this link. (But, I’m not sure.)

I really enjoyed them, and think you might, too.

SCC Twenty Five

January 11th, 2012 – Speechless
January 18th, 2012 – King of the Jungle

Update: I found the landing page for this series, and it says the updates are published 2 or 3 times a month, on Thursdays.

What Matters Most: The Story of Jayden

Every day we have stuff to do. Things that are “on our plate”. At the time, they weigh on us, at the end of the day (or during the day) exhaust our energy, and they may or may not also leave us feeling fulfilled.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s work, it’s the kids, it’s bills, it’s errands, it’s house cleaning, home repair, auto repair, insurance squabbles, kids’ daily and weekly activities, your family’s social calendar, community and neighborhood events and/or responsibilities. Then there are all your relationships: family, close friends, neighbors, friends who need support, good friends who are far away, and so on. And don’t forget all the books you want to read, the shows you like to watch, the hobbies you don’t have time for, and plans for the next holiday’s activities and gatherings.

These things fill our days, and our weeks, and our years. And mostly they are good. They are the stuff of life.

But for the most part, they all completely fall away when death or serious illness makes its macabre appearance.

Last year seemed to be full of serious illness and death all around us. (And you can throw in divorce and other of life’s hardships, if you’d like.) And somehow, when the reality of the most certain thing in life came front and center, the rest seemed so silly. So trivial. So superfluous.

What did it matter if I was having trouble getting a certain plugin to work with a complex shopping cart installation? So what if I can’t really figure out how to get our family out of this current financial pinch? Who cares if the van has fourteen different things wrong with it at once? Why does my kids’ incessant refusal to keep their living space neat and tidy bother me so much?

None of it matters when someone we know and love is either already gone, or soon will be.

We have some friends who just recently lost their four-month-old baby boy. I wish I could tell you the full story here, but not only would it be long enough to fill a week’s worth of posts, I’m not sure I could do it justice. I do hope that someday they will be able to write it out for more people to hear and see God’s every great gift to them.

The video above is their story. Hopefully you already watched it. If not, please do. What was most inspiring and encouraging to me is that through a difficult pregnancy where they were told early on that their baby would probably have some severe problems when—if—he was born, they trusted God, and asked him for a healing miracle… and they watched him DO it! Baby Jayden was born perfectly healthy, with no sign of the expected difficulties. (And, they even got to watch them be removed through the long months of the pregnancy.)

But then, things again took a turn for the worse.

Instead of being angry with God, though, who had given them hope and then (it would seem) had taken it away again, they loved their little boy (their gift from God) and they moved forward completely trusting Father to take care of him and them, however that turned out.

Their complete trust in God’s goodness through all of the physically and emotionally tiring, exhausting, draining experiences of Jayden’s four months was what gave them a deep peace that was palpable when you were with them, and it has buoyed them still, in the few weeks after his absence from their family.

And during the time he was sick—gravely sick—other things faded away. Family became important, work less important. Daily “things” were pushed to the background, and life and relationships took their place. I know because I saw it, watched it, and I have lived it.

We have experienced loss, too. Far too many times, actually. We did not get to experience both the joy of knowing our babies for four short months, nor the pain of losing someone we knew outside the womb. But we’ve also known loss.

And every time, what the reality of that brings to the front is that nothing matters more than how you love, and being/living loved. Knowing that your Father loves you, adores you. And then loving other people because you know he adores them, too. Cherishing the other Image-Bearers that he has put in your life, and you in theirs.

That’s really it.


Thank you, Jayden, for the reminder. Thank you Jesus for giving us some time to be around him, to know him, and to be reminded of what you really made us for. What really matters.

Programming of Life

Wow! We just finished watching this video (which is available in its entirety at their website, where you can also order the DVD).

It was produced by some friends of ours, and man, they did a fantastic job. It’s the incredible story of the cell, DNA and all the “building blocks” of life. Just so incredible. We had seen this video from some other friends of ours who have a website full of Health and Wellness Facts. The kids think it is so cool looking, and we all think it’s AMAZING what happens inside each cell, let alone the whole bodies of living things! (And even more amazing are the bodies of we people!)

When you have the time, please watch this 45 minute video and enjoy!

(And if you can, let them know what you think of it, either at YouTube, their video website, or their business website. From what I know this is the first in a series of at least three more. Already looking forward to them!)

Incredible People: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I know that because my in-laws are visiting (since they don’t have to drive their school busses today). I am not a very good observer of holidays in general. My thinking is that we should honor whomever we are honoring more than just one day per year. (And anything can become meaningless when you just do it out of habit…)

But today I was reminded of a post that I started last September. (Yes, I have really neglected writing over the past six months or so…)

I began writing about MLK’s “Dream” speech. The famous one… you’ve heard it. What happened was… well, read on below…

Last summer, Glenn Beck hosted a gigantic rally in Washington, DC on August 28th at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—the day and location of the historic Martin Luther King Jr. speech, “I Have A Dream

There was a “backlash” in the news, and even a “counter rally”. Accusations were tossed around of trying to co-opt the day… hogwash. The notion that Martin Luther King Jr. belongs to any one group of people is nearly flat-out denying the substance of all that he said.

As I was listening to all this talk about MLK—who he was, what he thought, what he said, what he stood for—I decided that I really didn’t know a lot about him first hand, so, I began investigating. I began, of course, with his most famous speech, “I Have A Dream”. It’s famous for a reason.

I found his speech online and we read it together as a family back in early September last year. It was shorter than I imagined, actually … but very to the point. The dream he spoke of was that one day there would be no colors, no division. One day, all of us would live together as equals. I think his courageous efforts to stand against injustice—leading other people to do the same—went a long way toward improving that in our country, but there are still so many “us” vs. “them” divisions (not necessarily, or at all, based on skin color) that sadly, I’d say we have a long way to go still. Perhaps we’ll never fully realize his dream this side of heaven, but it doesn’t hurt to keep trying, keep encouraging each other toward it.

The text this speech can be found here, and I will quote most of it below, highlighting some of the spots we thought were the most interesting/thought-provoking/great.

The speech begins with historical context. They were gathered at the feet of the Lincoln memorial. At the symbolic feet of the man who ended slavery. But the segregation had not ended. King said, “[the Negro] finds himself an exile in his own land.”

Then he said:

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

All men. I believe that the people who founded our country believed that. There are many stories and evidences to show that, though for hundreds of years there had been a culture of slavery that was more than abhorrent, many (perhaps most) did not support it, or even opposed it. But that’s not what I want to highlight here… I think it’s great that MLK was an American. Not an African-American, but an American… this was his “land”. And he took the words of our founders literally: That all men would be guaranteed—equally—these inalienable rights.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

I don’t think most of us today realize how important these two things are. We all live in relative freedom, purchased by many who have come before us. Perhaps many of us have known injustice. But in general, we think of riches more as material things rather than these more basic, more fundamental rights.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

This was an amazing paragraph. How strong is the dark power of bitterness and hatred. It clouds our judgment, fills our heart with darkness. It is definitely powerful, and in a bad way. King was right to acknowledge it, but emphasize that those who were perhaps justified in feeling it must not remain in it, or allow it to remain in them.

In another speech King said, “So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, ‘I love you. I would rather die than hate you.’ And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed.” He was right.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

King saw the true American dream. Self-evident truth: all men are created equal. The founders knew it. They may not have fully lived it out, but they knew it. MLK knew that those rights were given to each person by God. It didn’t matter what your skin color was or what country you were from or how much money you had… those are all external things. If we could all get past those things then we would be an oasis of freedom and justice. We would be a nation who judges “not by the color of [our] skin but by the content of [our] character.”

Incredible people are definitely uniquely gifted by God in some ways, but more often, they are just regular people who believe in something, and whose convictions (and usually their deeply rooted faith in God) allow them—perhaps require them—to stand up for what is right. To do what is right. Martin Luther King, Jr. was another incredible person, and definitely worthy of a place of honor in our nation and around the world.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

(note: Today, 1/17/11, the server was overloaded on that I Have a Dream link above! You can find the text of the speech (and that page) via the archive.org Way Back Machine here.)