Archive for April, 2015

Becoming conscious of life choices means start of whole new struggle

by David McElroy


If you drop a leaf into a moving creek, the leaf will be carried from place to place downstream by the water. The leaf has no will of its own and no input about where it goes or what happens to it.

It’s pure chance about which leaves will be crushed or destroyed quickly and which might make it for hundreds of miles before breaking apart.

Life is the same way for most people.

They’re dropped into the stream of life and have no real thoughts of their own about where they’re going or what they’re doing. They simply act as others around them act, waiting for fate to carry them to a destiny and then to death.

It’s a very easy and peaceful way to live, but it’s meaningless and random. Becoming self-aware enough to know that you don’t have to be a passive leaf in the stream of life is a struggle, but even getting to that point makes your life far more difficult, because it’s the beginning of something much harder.

If you become aware that you don’t have to gently float to whatever fate random chance has in store for you, you’re forced to either panic from that realization or else start fighting to change your course.

The simple realization that you have choices doesn’t necessarily give you understanding of what the choices are or what your life means. You’ve just awakened enough to know how desperate your situation is and then you have to start figuring out how the entire ecosystem of the stream works at the same time you also try to teach yourself to think and to act.

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Party of ‘limited government’ fails when given chance to shrink state

by David McElroy

Liquor bottles in store

Republicans are the party of small government. They’re happy to tell you that each time there’s an election. They hate Big Government. If you’ll just vote them into power, they’ll shrink government and lower your taxes.

If you believe that, you’re a sucker.

Most people who dislike the GOP and who oppose it do so because they oppose its rhetoric. They’re either Democrats who have partisan reasons for cheering “their team” or they’re progressive left ideologues who favor a bigger, more activist role for government — for one reason or another.

But even though I’m a former Republican — and spent years trying to elect Republican candidates professionally — I find the GOP terribly hypocritical and unworthy of support. Even if I still believed in the concept of majoritarian rule — and I don’t — Republicans have proven over and over again that they’re not going to deliver on their promises to cut the size of government.

When Republicans took over the state Legislature in Alabama a few years back, they came roaring to power promising to cut government, roll back taxes and generally live up to all those glib promises we wrote for GOP candidates for years.

Guess what? They didn’t really mean all that stuff they said. They just wanted to get elected.

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I don’t know how to fix race issues, but anger at race-baiters won’t help

by David McElroy

Racial attitudes

I just saw a politician engaging in ridiculous race-baiting and my first reaction was to angrily denounce her.

My anger was hot and my self-righteousness ran strong. I wanted to condemn her in strong language and make it clear that she’s the sort of person who continues to make race a serious issue in the country. (I’m not going to mention which extreme she was representing, because it doesn’t matter.)

But in the space of 60 seconds, I went from anger at her to frustration with myself. I’ve now stifled my instinct to angrily point out how wrong she is and how she’s using race in a divisive way — not because that would be inaccurate, but because paying so much attention to such divisive people is what gives them so much power.

Race is one of the ugliest problems we have in this country today, and I understand the frustrations and grievances of certain people on both sides of the black/white divide. (Adding Hispanics and the interests of smaller ethnic groups complicates the question even further.)

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If Christians have to sell church like soap, we’re doing something wrong

by David McElroy

Easter advertising graphic

When I was about 24, I got a contract to produce a marketing campaign for a large church in Tuscaloosa, Ala. I wasn’t really qualified for the work — especially the television and radio portions — but one of the deacons involved in the selection process was the father of a friend of mine. He asked if I was interested and then set up a meeting with the pastor. I somehow talked my way into the contract.

At the time, I was convinced that churches needed to be using clever and impressive modern advertising to grab the attention of people who didn’t normally attend church. That’s what every modern organization did, so it seemed to make sense to me. I wanted churches to dump their staid old images and be creative in their graphics and copywriting. That approach sold Coke, Tide, Rolaids, Pepto Bismol, Dial soap and Chevrolets. Surely we ought to be doing the same thing.

My advertising campaign was a failure. The TV commercials were generic and boring. (I still have them on old U-matic tapes somewhere.) The radio spots were adequate but forgettable. The flyers for posting on college campuses were actually pretty decent, but I’m not sure anything was ever done with them. And the half page ad in the newspaper was a disaster because the local newspaper flipped my sunrise picture — what a cliche — and the picture and the copy didn’t match.

At the time, I blamed the relative lack of success of the campaign on my inexperience and poor execution. But as I’ve observed church marketing over the years — and thought a lot about why churches do the things they do and what they’re supposed to become — I’ve completely changed what I believe. I’ve decided that all of my beliefs about church “marketing” were wrong.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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