Real Offense and Not So Much

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Introduction

I write as one who has given a lot of offense in my time, and I think it could be profitable to discuss this for a little bit. Obviously I believe that it is high time for us to address an aspect of this that is too often neglected. We really have to come to grips with how taking offense is a sin, and a pretty destructive one.

I offer, as a case in point, how this introductory paragraph was probably offensive to many.

Can We Talk?

Now we have to begin with the local garden variety of this sin, which is the way it has spread through our entire society, and has become so widespread that it can now be routinely used as a devastating cultural and political weapon. The local variety is how it has spread through families, churches, and various other communities. Someone says x, and someone else takes it as an affront, saying that they are hurt and offended by it, saying so by saying y. What I am pointing to is the near universal fact that everyone assumes that x has to be the wrong, and y is the mere result of the wrong. X is the slashing knife, and y is the bleeding wound.

Now I am talking here about taking offense. Taking offense is a sin. However, I am not saying that when an objective wrong (as defined by the law of God) is committed, that it is a sin to be wronged and to know that you have been. There really are people who do things prohibited by the law of God. That being the case, it naturally has destructive effects, and these destructive effects can be noticed and taken into account without sinning. I am not talking about that scenario. When a woman deserts her husband and family, the results really are destructive.

What I am talking about here is when people take offense over the fact that I used an example of a wife deserting her family, instead of saying, as I ought to have done, “when a man deserts his wife and family . . .” Now I know perfectly well that men and women both commit this sin, and when you use an example you have to pick one. And whenever it occurs to me, I try to pick the one that I know will result in offense.

Of course it would be a sin for me to wrong someone just to get them to sin in response. But it is never a sin to say something perfectly innocent, even if you know that a person is going to take offense from it. The reason for this is that it illustrates the precise nature of our modern captivity to feeeeeellllingsss. Whenever we start modifying our normal behavior in order to avoid giving offense, you can depend upon it, we are being worked, played, manipulated. In fact, I believe it is a sin knowingly to allow yourself to be manipulated in this way. And by the way, please make a point to remember my use of that word normal.

Then There Was That Time . . .

Let me tell you a story. One time a couple decades back the League of Women Voters sponsored a panel discussion over a referendum here in Idaho that denied granting special rights to homosexuals, and I was asked to be on the panel. When we got to the event (about half an hour early), the place was jammed with homosexual activists, all of them with signs, who had been flown in from some other non-Idaho planet. One of the signs read No Hate Here, which figures into the story later. During the course of the evening—which was fairly rambunctious—I was prepared for anything. In fact, I pre-wrote a note to call the cops in case I had to slide it over to the moderator. Not surprisingly, I was heckled with no little enthusiasm when I tried to talk. One time I began an illustration in a fashion something like this. I said, “Look, suppose you were the manager at Arby’s . . .” This was too much for one gent, who burst out, “Arby’s! Why Arby’s, Doug?” And I replied with something like, “Look, I know that we disagree on an awful lot, but it does seem to me that I should be able to say something like ‘Arby’s’ without causing a problem.” The capstone of that evening was when the event concluded. This same gent, who was in possession of one of the No Hate Here signs, stood up in utter disgust, hoiked up his sign with one hand, and gave me the finger with the other. We didn’t have iPhones with cameras in those days, but I still treasure that image in my memory.

He actually took offense (or pretended to) when I said Arby’s. We will come back to this issue of homosexual perversion shortly. This is a process—we began by normalizing homosexual practice, and we will end by outlawing the very category of normal. And we will do it by taking constant, unremitting offense at every expression of the “normal.”

Ungodly But Nice

But the reason we have gotten into this sorry state of affairs is because of our ungodly niceness. Let me return to our near universal assumption that “x has to be in the wrong.” He is the one who gave offense, and it is (in our calculation) a sin to give offense, and so he should apologize.

We are in this basketball game where there are no refs and so we are all calling our own fouls. The Christian team has an ironclad conviction that it is a sin to foul anyone, and we are playing a pack of lying pagans, who know how to flop like they were Belgian soccer players. Charging! They also know how to writhe in pain on the court. Whenever this happens, every five minutes or so, your Christian teammates take you aside and say that you should apologize.

Why? Because it is a sin to give offense. The person who claims to have been offended always has the upper hand. He or she is the one who must be mollified, appeased, placated.

A New Thought

But what if taking offense is actually the real sin? There is the lying and manipulation involved obviously, and to the extent that the offendee believes her own act, there are also the hard heart and bitter feelings to reckon with. In such circumstances, it is a sin to be offended.

And it is a sin that has taken deep root in the church. It is very common for “peacemakers” in the church to exhort an innocent man or woman to “just apologize.” “You are the one who ruffled the feathers, you smooth them.” And there is no future in arguing the point. “Actually, I don’t think I ruffled any feathers. I . . .” That is when you hear a sibilant hiss. “Just apologize.” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall tell lots of lies.

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” (Prov. 12:16, ESV).

If this is the case with a real insult, how much more should it be taken to heart when the insult was merely imagined? If it is imprudent to take offense at a real insult, how much more imprudent to take offense at things you are making up in your very own head? But the hypersensitive have been flattered for years, and the blunt brethren have been lectured for the same amount of time.

So the pious wing of the church has been in this kind of “training” for decades. And we are now being given elephant doses of God’s reductio. So if the offended person is always automatically in the right, we have gotten to the point where people can pick up behaviors that are calculated to shock and outrage normal people—say a couple of guys in feather boas humping on a parade float in San Francisco—and when normal people are shocked and outraged, as per the plan, the organizers of the parade profess themselves entirely baffled by the inexplicable hatred . . . and truly offended. Checkmate, nice evangelicals. They were offended more profoundly than you were. Ow, ow, ow.

Why It Matters

It has been a long time coming, this “long march through the institutions.” The Gramscian and Alinskyite practices that have insinuated cultural Marxism into everything have been intended, from the very start, to make “the normal” unspeakably offensive. The very idea of normal has been made to stink.

This is because the abnormal cannot really be defended by argument. It can, however, be successfully defended (against cowards) by pitching a fit.

“For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off, who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right” (Is. 29:20–21, ESV).

The prophet Isaiah tells us that in the new covenant, certain kinds of men will be overthrown, defeated, undone. The tyrant will come to nothing. The scoffer will be done. Those who invent evil will be cut off. And how are those inventors of evil described? This is remarkable, because Isaiah not only lived 700 years before Christ, he lived 2800 years before the invention of watch blogs on the Internet. These people are those who “by a word” make a man into an offender (“I am offended”). If someone takes a position in the gates of the city, honestly reproving sin, they lay a snare for him. And if someone is in the right, they turn on the smoke machine of their empty pleas in order to turn that man aside.

And there is a bad cop/good cop thing going. The bad cop does something outrageous, and you say so in the city gates. Then the good cop, the respectable evangelical activist, sidles up alongside you and tells you that you are hurting the cause. You really should apologize for your language of dismissal, which gave considerable offense. Yes, not only so, if that considerable offense is not enough for you, we can always gin up some more. As long as you are resolved to be obedient to them taking offense at some level, they can certainly arrange to get it up to that level.

Last Thing

What is the solution to all this? The solution is the divine gift of not caring what they think. But of course, not caring at all is apathy, and that is also a sin. Caring is another inescapable concept—not whether, but which. It is not whether your conduct will be approved, but rather which group will approve it. It is not whether you care if your conduct is approved, it is rather which group’s approval you care about.

And fundamentally, this a decision that has to be made in your heart before Jehovah God. We must care what God thinks, and if that is settled, the approval of the world can fall where it may.

“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Cor. 10:18).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44).

The reason we give way before our adversaries is that we care way too much what they think. The reason there are millions of us who are easily dismissed by them is that there are millions of us who don’t dismiss them.

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Moor
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Moor

I needed that today, thanks Doug.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

I call it Cole Oyl Syndrome. Olive Oyl’s dad Cole in the old Popeye comics (and the 1980 Robin Williams movie) was a one-line character – “You owe me an apology”.

Dan Jones
Member

But Douuuuuggg, are you saying it’s actually okay to hurt people’s feeeellllinnnngggs? Are you advocating some kind of Elisha and the prophets of Baal kind of thing? If you continue to berate Herod for having his brother’s wife, you know you’re going to end up with your beloved and gifted noggin on a plate.

JP Stewart
Member
adad0
Member

Amen.

Shawn Paterson
Member

Knox: “Madam, it is true that your Grace and I have often argued in the past, but I had never noticed that I had offended you. Once God hath delivered you from the error of your ways, ye will find nothing offensive in what I have said… Madam, in God’s presence I speak. I never delighted in the weeping of any of God’s creatures, yea I can scarcely well abide the tears of my own boys whom my own hand corrects, much less can I rejoice in Your Majesty’s weeping. I have given you no reason to take offence, and… Read more »

Zachary Skrip
Member

Wow. What a man.

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan
Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

He was indeed, but I think he might have predicted that Elizabeth I would give him the side eye after she read “First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women”!

-BJ-
Guest
-BJ-

Knox is amazing.

Do you have a reference for this?

Shawn Paterson
Member
insanitybytes22
Member

Well, first let me say this is a fabulous post and I am grateful for it. I too have spoken of the modern cult of offense and the cult of niceness that afflicts us. The root of that word “nice” actually stems from, “silly, simple,and foolish.” It does not mean kind. Telling evangelicals to be “nice” is about like telling them to be stupid. However, and you know I’m going to go there, “when a woman deserts her husband and family, the results really are destructive.” The problem being, Old Earl One Tooth always thinks so highly of himself, that… Read more »

adad0
Member

Well………, I guess Arby’s could be pretty offensive! (?). ????

Let’s just reiterate, Memi, that our host, like you, and Our Lord, does understand that there are times when an issue, like a hornet’s nest, desperately needs to be whacked!
????????????????
One time Jesus did it in the temple court, via a stampede!

Boy was He ever good!????
Still is in fact!????

john k
Guest
john k

Words are defined by usage, not origin. For us, a “candidate” is a nominee or an applicant, not a person robed in white. To be “nice” might, at times, be “stupid” as well as “sinful,” but those three words do not have the same meaning.

OK, Earl is a problem. Why would someone leave the kids in his care?

insanitybytes22
Member

“Words are defined by usage, not origin.”

I challenge that, especially in a world where we believe words mean whatever we subjectively want them to mean. That is partially true, but go back to the root origin before we all lost our minds, and you often find great wisdom hiding there.

john k
Guest
john k

Actually, insisting on the obsolete meaning of a word is a good example of subjectively making it mean what you want it to mean. Obscure meanings hinder communication, except for those “in the know.”

insanitybytes22
Member

Then get “in the know.”

john k
Guest
john k

That’s a carking conjuration for most people.

Dave
Guest
Dave

“Words are defined by usage, not origin.” John k

John, do you intend to say that insisting on the meaning of marriage obscures clear communication in regard to it being a man and a woman not a man and a man or a woman and a woman or any combination thereof?

john k
Guest
john k

The change in the American concept of marriage affects the meaning of the term. Even if we personally, or as a subculture reserve the word marriage for a man-woman arrangement, others still won’t be sure if by “married woman” we mean one who has a husband. Explanatory words must now be used to communicate clearly.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Words have meanings and having to explain a word shows just how far from Christ American Christians have moved. The fact that American Christians didn’t keep the meaning of marriage in our culture shows how weak our preaching and teaching is and how cowardly our fellow Christians are..

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That is true, but sometimes learning an old definition can give you fresh insights. I remember always being puzzled by the Holy Spirit being described as a comforter. I tend to think of comforters as people who put an arm around my shoulders and tell me it will all be okay. But the old sense meant “strengthener” and I think that is a valuable definition.

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Words have nooks & crannies big enough to hold ancient echoes.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You are poetical. I like it.

Oscar
Member

“I too have spoken of the modern cult of offense and the cult of niceness that afflicts us.”

Says one of its priestesses.

insanitybytes22
Member

Well,at least “priestess” is an upgrade from some of the names you’ve called me. We must be making progress.

Oscar
Member

Up until now, I’ve called you exactly zero names. Thanks for proving my point.

adad0
Member

Oscar, please take a look at Memi’s blog, and her post “I am my father’s daughter”. Memi does understand both sides of the common gender disputes covered on this blog and her own. Like our host, she runs close to the center of these issues, and thus, like our host, frequently gets crapped on by the extremes on either side of these common issues. Memi might even say that she was “raised in the enemy camp”, but by the Grace of God, came away redeemed. If you invested a bit more time in understanding Memi, you might be surprised and… Read more »

CHer
Guest
CHer

Been there, done that, seen the deception and lies. The only thing she runs close to the center of is her own universe.

Stop white knighting, act like a man and use your brain, dude.

insanitybytes22
Member

Well now, Adad is already quite the man and he uses his brain very well. You should pour some respect and honor over the guy, he’s already earned it,no kindness towards me required at all.

CHer
Guest
CHer

Any grown man who defends your shenanigans/agenda and uses emoticons like a junior high kid has some work to do. If that offends, so be it.

insanitybytes22
Member

Any man who stands up as a husband,father,and church leader under some incredibly challenging circumstances deserves your respect. The fact that he can do it while still maintaining his sense of humor is an extra bonus.

You don’t offend me. If you can’t see Adad’s value, you’ll never be able to see your own. Think about how many men you tear down and ask yourself why.

adad0
Member

Wow C’, it’s almost like you are offended or something!
Maybe someone should write a post about that.
Oh wait. ????

Also, blog comments do tend to lack the vocal inflections and the visual cues that come with face to face conversations. Hence the emoticons.????
Besides, if you comment to someone who might have a junior high mentality , or more limited, the emoticons help!????
Those sorts of mentalities might be more prevalent than you would think!????
????

mys
Guest
mys

Meh, maybe Adad. Everything I have seen from Memi seeks to explain, and by explain, I mean, minimize, obligations women have, such as submission in marriage. Then, on the flip side, say that everything bad is because the manosphere is endorsed by the modern church. This is not a centerist approach, nor is it true. The majority of men in my church have not heard of the manosphere, and such as what they have has likely been through other media outlets.

mys
Guest
mys

Then again, Memi is hardly unique. Check DW’s blog posting in January of this year, with Wonder Woman in the picture. He was talking about potentially lazy housewives. Comments aplenty, and it was many females, not just Memi, disputing, making excuses, etc. Even some of the conservative ones. That’s better advertising for the manosphere than anything else.

adad0
Member

Well MYS, thanks for your consideration. Over the years, I see that Memi and our host have warmed to each other, and a high level of unity does not require agreement on everything. One of Memi’s things is the red pill dudes. I don’t know much about them, and I tend to ignore them. I expect that in her personal life, Memi holds her husband in high esteem and respects him highly. Submission and respect are easy to give, when the husband receiving the submission and respect deserves it. A high level of Submission and respect can be lost by… Read more »

mys
Guest
mys

A high level of submission can be lost by a husband, if he gets in deep sin…and also, if he is not in deep sin, because rebellious wives are going to be rebels. Your next statement proves it re: Christ. The church is in rebellion, often, toward the One who knew no sin.

adad0
Member

So MYS, you, myself and Memi are quite likely in essential agreement.
Wives are to submit to their own husbands, as they do to the Lord. When wives do not submit to a godly husband there are problems. When husbands expect submission from their wives to ungodly things, there are problems.

Solution?

Husbands and wives need to be more godly. Husbands can always lead in this regard, even if they are not followed.
Jesus has the same problem, even with me sometimes.

Oscar
Member

adad0,

You seem like a nice guy and a peace maker, but your refusal to recognize her deceptions and bile are exactly the kind of counterproductive niceness that this article references.

adad0
Member

Oscar, thanks for your consideration, re: Memi, Romans 14 is my guide. I am not even saying Memi’s position is weaker, but many of her positions and mine, are debatable. It is OK for us to admonish one another, if we are so led, but if Memi, you and I claim Christ as our Lord, we do owe each other a fair amount of respect, even if we disagree. Our host is pretty good at that sort of respect, that is one of the reasons I read his blog. Engage Memi on the merits of your position and she will… Read more »

Oscar
Member

Romans 14 instructs us to “Accept the one whose faith is weak”. It does NOT instruct us to accept one who slanders our siblings in the faith, then feigns victimhood when others point out her lies.

Like I said, your niceness is counterproductive.

psychodave
Guest
psychodave

What an excellent suggestion that turned out to be. Thanks!

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Having been that Earl, I take no offence at what you’re selling.
I’ve come to the point of thinking that it would be an anomaly to find a woman who’d leave a man who was at least self-consciously trying to a good man, even if he often failed.
I think it happens, though.
But even then, I don’t fault her as much as I first did — given I could have been way more attentive in checking the pulse along the way.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

“Nice” also used to mean being overly fastidious and finicky, like a cat. In that sense, there are a lot of people who should be told not to be “too nice” about their food!

insanitybytes22
Member

“And it is a sin that has taken deep root in the church. It is very common for “peacemakers” in the church to exhort an innocent man or woman to “just apologize.”

Somewhat funny, I often write about the difference between “peacekeepers” and “peacemakers.” Indeed, we have gotten that all confused within the church.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/peacekeepers-and-peacemakers/

ron
Guest
ron

We wonder why men flee churches…when everything they say and do brings great offense to someone’s mother/grandmother/sister, etc…they’re then browbeaten into apologizing just as DW states…

They use our compassion/kindness/desire for peace against us. Decades on now, we can see the rot we’ve wrought by capitulating to the offended masses. We encourage/ reward victim-hood and wonder why our boys don’t grow to be strong men.

Jerrod
Guest
Jerrod

Hey Doug,

Do you think this is what happened to Driscoll? Did he and the people around him care too much about what the offended thought? Not trying to open up an old can of worms, but that situation seemed to be one you might apply the principles you laid down here.

Ginny Yeager
Guest
Ginny Yeager

Isn’t it curious that the habitually offended are also incurable gossips, critics and backbiters?

Clayvessel
Guest
Clayvessel

The sin is when people don’t keep God’s commandment to not bear false witness. As M Luther says in the explanation of that commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (What does this mean?) We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him and PUT THE BEST CONSTRUCTION ON EVERYTHING.” If everyone did that, put the best construction on everything, that is- assume the best interpretation of said words- there would be no offense taken. But though someone takes offense when… Read more »

adad0
Member

Titus 1:12-16????????

Luke 17:3????

In general, it has been my experience that the Church in general, does not teach, and does not know, the Word grounded way to give or receive rebuke. Hence the Church is generally inept on both sides of the rebuke issue.

John F. Martin
Guest
John F. Martin

Greetings Clay and adad! I had a boss who always said; “Feedback is a gift!” Oddly, he was the same guy who would often say; “I’m rarely surprised, frequently disappointed.” I’m trying to string tangled thoughts together, but I think that a lot of people’s offences are based on false expectations. In recovery, it is said that expectations are resentments under construction. I see false expectations created in my children when their early sports teams chose not to keep score. When early childhood educators don’t give meaningful grades with requirements for improvement. When my own parental discipline slips because it… Read more »

adad0
Member

John, worry, but don’t worry too much. The performance based portion of the work world, and the sports world still deal in legitimate criticism and merit based advancement.
Strangely enough, while I don’t play them myself, I see that video games still retain the structure of merit, as in, one can’t beat or master the game, if does not actually beat or master the game. (However trivial the game may be.)

John F. Martin
Guest
John F. Martin

Thanks adad, I try not to worry. I do know that I care too much about what people think in certain situations (i.e. discipline in public vs. in private, attention seeking at work or even church), but I’ve never had much of an ear for behind-my-back gossip. Related to offense and work, I have promoted people who have used their own initiative to learn extra skills. All the sudden, someone else will complain, “You never gave me that training!” To which my response is; “You’re right, I didn’t train them either – I wonder how they learned to do that?”… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think we live in a time when we are encouraged to take ourselves far too seriously. I am grateful to my childhood family for many things, but especially for teasing me so constantly that I learned, first not to mind, and secondly to respond in kind. I think people used to be genuinely funnier and less self-conscious than they are today. I noticed when my own Snowflake was growing up that when the activity really matters to young people, they can absorb vast amounts of even savage criticism. My Snowflake who would burst into tears if I mildly announced… Read more »

John F. Martin
Guest
John F. Martin

Excellent example Jill! I remember in boot camp my cadre saying that I was letting down the whole platoon by not having my shirt tucked in correctly. I rolled my eyes just enough not to require push-ups. But only a few months before, my high school baseball coach told me I was letting down the team by not hustling during after practice sprints. I almost cried, and never lost another foul-line to fence-line sprint that season.

Rob Steele
Member

I added “More offended than thou” to my social media bios. No one cares but it’s my little protest against the scam.

gabe
Guest
gabe

I agree, but to play devil’s advocate and I hate to say that when it is simply Bible, but what about 1 Corinthians 13? I pretty much stopped reading Matt Walsh for this, he does say truth, I mostly agree with him but he often is scathing with very little of a grounding in an idea that his enemies are redeemable. It is hard to see that love is anywhere on the playing field. So my question stands. It is far too easy to become a noisy gong these days, and I know that personal offense doesn’t make it so,… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Absolutely worth considering. There are two things I think of in relation to the comment that it is “easy to become a noisy gong these days.” The first is that many people have a twisted concept of love and often don’t know it when they see it. The second is that with so much evil in our culture it is easy to be overwhelmed by it. With those who have a blind spot concerning the fact that love often demands reproof, I simply can not accept their judgment on whether I’m being unloving. They might be right, but they’re an… Read more »

gabe
Guest
gabe

I agree that the world isn’t necessarily a great barometer, but that is the point the Word of God is.
1 Corinthians 13 isn’t about the world’s perception but it is about our own presentations and hearts. So with all the cultural battling it is to easy to step out of 1 Corinthians 13 and into the category of fighting and come across unloving like you mentioned “they might be right” so it is on us to represent Christ well.

Just want to bring a balance to calling everyone snowflakes, that is also too easy.

Nathan James
Member

And I just want to point out that “coming across as unloving” isn’t the same as being unloving. I’m commanded to love, and that takes precedence over being perceived as loving.

Matt
Guest
Matt

It’s unfortunate that even the idea of taking offense is culture war fodder. Pretty soon you aren’t going to be able to do anything without becoming a them to someone’s us. It is true that it is often prudent to not take offense at a slight. I wouldn’t make it an absolute rule or anything, but it is usually wise nonetheless. Consider Barack Obama’s response to Joe Biden saying “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Obama could have taken it badly, but instead said “I didn’t take… Read more »

soylentg
Member

You are right, Donald Trump does come across as having more class than any of the people mentioned in your 2nd paragraph!

JP Stewart
Member

I stopped reading at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Lying, race-baiting hustlers who are every bit as bad as David Duke (actually worse, considering Duke has never been a part of hoaxes like Duke lacrosse or the Tawana Bradley case).

Larry Geiger
Guest
Larry Geiger

In the PCUSA I started noticing it when the great “peace” thing started. Everything was about peace. Supposedly. Of course everyone is for peace but there seemed to be something about it that didn’t sit right. I wasn’t bright enough to figure it out at the time. It was all about not offending even in the face of obvious heresy and untruth. Lots of churches changed their names to include “Peace” in them. It was all very odd. Since then they’ve completely gone off the rails.

Katharine Savage
Guest
Katharine Savage

Perfect.

Brad Schmehl
Guest

Douglas Wilson, you are a spring of pure water in an arid wasteland. God bless you, sir.