Dr. Bob directs “The Taming of the Shrew”

It was my privilege to direct Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at Clearwater Christian College March 13-16, 2013.

We had a hard-working cast and crew, a lot of collaboration, and some very good actors who helped make the production a success.

I thought you might like to see some photos from the production.

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American Presidents and Prayer

February has for many years been my favorite month. And not just because my birthday comes in February. Or two of my good friends who were born on the same day as I. Or my niece who’s birthday is the same day as mine.

I enjoy celebrating the births of the presidents who were born in February–George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, and Ronald Reagan. All right, I don’t remember much about Harrison or Harding. But I like to joke that I’m in good company with the great people born in February.

George Washington, was instrumental in freeing the “colonies” from British rule. Lincoln had the Emancipation Proclamation, and won the war between the States which led to abolishing slavery in our country. Reagan encouraged the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall,” freeing eastern Europe from a generation of Soviet domination.

Each of these presidents recognized the need for prayer, urging U.S. citizens to pray for their country.

Though critics have denied it’s authenticity, George Washington was reported to have prayed at Valley Forge. Arnold Friberg created the original painting of “The Prayer at Valley Forge” in 1976 to honor our country’s bicentennial year.

Copy of painting by Friberg for sale at mountvernon.org
Copy of painting by Friberg at mountvernon.org

George Washington prayed on another occasion, in a letter circulated in 1783: “I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.” (Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of all the States on the Disbanding of the Army, June 14, 1783)

Abraham Lincoln prayed for peace:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continues… until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid another drawn with the sword… so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Lincoln prays. Image from http://abelincoln.com/ostendorf_positives/images/sc-06.jpg
Lincoln prays. Image from http://abelincoln.com/ostendorf_positives/images/sc-06.jpg

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (Second Inaugural address, March 4, 1865)

Ronald Reagan prayed for citizens to look to God for divine guidance: 

To preserve our blessed land we must look to God… It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us… We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that “If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

President Ronald Reagan prays. From armystrongstories.com

President Ronald Reagan prays. From armystrongstories.com

Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always.

The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America… Our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth.

If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we’re so familiar with: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace….” And God bless you all. (Address, February 6, 1986)

May we follow in the footsteps of Washington, Lincoln, Reagan–and many of our fore-fathers and fore-mothers, who were men and women of prayer.

Profoundities

Americanflag

Happy New Year! Dr. Bob here,

My friend Ted sent the following via email today. I thought it would be a perfect to share with you for the upcoming few months, as we think about tax season.

GREAT TRUTHS

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.     — John Adams

2. If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. — Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. — Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. —Winston Churchill

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. — George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. — G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. —James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. — Douglas Case, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University.

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.  — P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. — Frederic Bastiat, French economist(1801-1850)

11. Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. —Ronald Reagan (1986)

12. I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. — Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!  — P. J. O’Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. —Voltaire (1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!  — Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. — Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it. — Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.  — Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. — Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. — Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. — Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress. — Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians —Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.  — Thomas Jefferson

25. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. — Aesop

FIVE BEST SENTENCES

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the  wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!

The Battle of Point Pleasant

Hi! Dr. Bob here.

Street sign at Point Pleasant
Street sign at Point Pleasant
Point Pleasant monument
Point Pleasant monument

On October 10, 1774, my great, great, great, great grandfather died.

O.K., that’s a lot of “greats,” but there’s a “great” story behind his death on that day in October.

For American history buffs, October 10, 1774 was the date of the Battle of Point Pleasant, which occurred in present-day West Virginia, along the east bank of the Ohio River. My ancestor, Ensign Jonathan Cundiff, was a Colonial rifleman from Bedford, Virginia: he was killed in action during the battle with the Shawnee and Mingo Indians. Cundiff’s name is on the plaque at the base of the obelisk.

My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the battle site, and see the obelisk raised in honor of the fallen. My ancestor’s name is among the soldiers who died in battle.

According to the State Park’s website, “Here at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, the bloody, day-long Battle of Point Pleasant was fought. On October 10, 1774, Colonel Andrew Lewis’ 1,100 Virginia militiamen decisively defeated a like number of Indians lead by the Shawnee Chieftain Cornstalk.” Their website is http://www.tu-endie-weistatepark.com/battle.html.

Under the leadership of Captain Thomas Buford, a contingent of soldiers from Bedford County, Virginia came to join Lewis’ militia. My ancestor was with that group from Bedford County. According to historical records the Bedford officers were the following: Thomas Buford, Captain; Thomas Dooley, Lieutenant; Jonathan Cundiff, Ensign; Nicholas Mead, Sergeant; John Fields, Sergeant; Thomas Fliping, Sergeant; William Kenedy, Sergeant. Under their leadership, 47 other Virginia militiamen followed. The names of all these brave soldiers from Bedford, Virginia are on another monument in their honor outside the Bedford Courthouse.

A summary of the battle can also be found on Wikipedia, at  http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Point_Pleasant.

There has been discussion for more than a century about this battle being part of the Revolutionary War. The U.S. Senate once honored the battle as such, with a bill. The House of Representatives did not follow the Senate’s lead in commemorating the battle as a Revolutionary War incident.

It’s interesting to note that both Ohio and Virginia Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) have honored the battle site. Two websites I found are http://ohssardispatch.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/battle-days-point-pleasant-wv-3/ and http://www.fairfaxresolvessar.org/ffx_observance_pointpleasant.html.

Jonathan Cundiff’s son, Isaac, was not at the battle, but subsequently joined the Revolutionary War effort as a soldier. Isaac’s enlistment records allowed me to become a SAR member.

September 11: If I knew

September 11, Patriot’s Day

Hi, Dr. Bob here.

On September 11, 2001, I went to chapel at Clearwater Christian College, where I have taught since 1996. Like every other Tuesday and Thursday morning that semester, I was prepared for the debate class after chapel.

Little did any of us know what was happening while we were in chapel. As chapel ended, we heard the announcement of the planes flying into the trade towers, and the death and destruction which followed.

I thought of an old friend who worked across the street from the towers years ago, whom I visited before the towers were built. I wzs glad he had moved to another state years before the attack.

I was concerned about friends and family who worked in NYC, and was happy when I learned they had not been harmed.

But thousands of people died; thousands of families have grieved for the last eleven years. I thought of the national grief that was beginning that day, that hour.

Close to tears, I went to class–a small group of communication students studying debate. We didn’t study debate that day; instead we talked, wept and prayed. Quite similar to my September 11 activities every year since, though the initial pain and grief has moderated, but will never go away.

The attack on the USA on 9/11 was our generation’s Pearl Harbor. Our lives and country have never and will never be the same.  As my parents lived through Pearl Harbor, we have lived through 9/11. And life has not been the same.

So today I’m celebrating Patriot’s Day. I’m wearing my stars and stripes flag tie and my Sons of the American Revolution pin. I went to chapel. Wept and prayed. And got ready for my next class. And I pray that there will never be another day like 9/11 that America has to go through again.

There’s not a lot that any of us can do. Comfort and encourage those who still mourn. Love and thank God for our country and try to improve it. We can make sure we never forget, and communicate to those who were too young to know what happened to our country on September 11, 2001.

We can let others know the true values that make the United States a great county. That we must fight to keep it free, to defend freedom of speech, freedom of worship–even freedom of the press.

God bless the USA.

Copied from my old friend Dr. Bob Griffin’s website, grif.net.

[Written by a widow of the 9.11 Islamic sneak attack on the US in New York and Washington DC, I thought this fitting to share today.  Not humor, nor meant to be.  9.11 will never just be “another” September day.]

IF I KNEW

If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for just one more.

If I knew it would be the last time I’d hear your voice lift up in praise, I would video tape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I could spare an extra minute to stop and say “I love you,” Instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day, When I was sure you’d have so many, I wouldn’t have just let this one slip away.

Conversations

Hi, Dr. Bob here.

Conversations, in the field of communication, fit nicely into a category called interpersonal communication. Different than public speaking, communicating in groups, or interpretive speech,   interpersonal communication starts with face-to-face communication with a small number of people, maybe two or three. But effective interpersonal communication is much more than just two or three people having a conversation.

There’s an interesting discussion, from a business point of view, at the following link: http://www.cba.uni.edu/Buscomm/Interpersonal/InterpersonalCommunication.htm

This article quotes another author who says that “interpersonal communication occurs not when you simply interact with someone, but when you treat the other person as a unique human being” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2002).

The University of Northern Iowa article says that building trust is at the core of effective interpersonal communication, giving four specific areas to build trust:

  • Consistency, meaning that we should be “steady,” or “predictable”
  • Communication, when, for example, we tell others ahead of time about problems before they are surprised by them
  • Commonality, where we focus on things that we have in common
  • Cooperation, which is having a spirit of “good-natured” interdependence

It’s so easy in conversations with others, to focus on problems, negative thoughts, complaints about government, or work. Of course we’ve never focused on these things ourselves, but we’ve heard others focus on the negative.

The Bible says, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us . . . .” (Isaiah 63:7)

Whatever our walk of life, whether teaching, being a student, a parent, a brother or sister, or a friend, we will improve our conversation skills when we focus on the “kindnesses of the LORD.” It’s hard to complain when we have a thankful heart.

What Red Skelton told me about being nervous

It’s hard to believe that forty years have passed since I started teaching students how to improve their speaking skills. I’ve seen many students work on their speeches and, with nervous anticipation, get up and speak.

One of the biggest problems they have is nervousness—how to get over it.  You could try a few drops of Newton’s Homeopathics #32 Stage Fright. But I have a better idea.

I tell my students, don’t work at trying to get over your nervousness; use that excitement, that anticipation, to try to communicate with energy to your audience.

The biggest remedy for nervousness is to practice ahead of time, at least a half-dozen times or more. That way you’ll know the ideas you want to get across to your audience.

Years ago, I heard the actor and comedian Red Skelton in a radio interview, saying how anxious he was when he first started on live television, after a long career in film. He was so nervous, he said, that he had a bucket on both sides of the set; he would go off-stage and throw up between scenes. A few years later, I had the chance to meet Red Skelton, in a Minneapolis hotel lobby. He was going to perform at the University of Minnesota the next day.

I asked him how he got over his nervousness. He said, simply, know your material. The more he knew what was in the scene, the more he practiced it, the less nervous he was.

Now, I’m not talking about memorizing your speech—that’s way too hard, and completely unnecessary. Once you’ve gotten the main points down in an outline, reduce the outline to speaking notes—key words, short phrases. No manuscript, no complete sentences. Then practice as many times as you can, a dozen times is not too many, using the key word/phrases speaking notes. Don’t worry about saying it the same way each time. Use different words each time you practice—just concentrating on the ideas. Then have a conversation with your audience, talking about those ideas.

I think it works.

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