Tuesday, January 27 5-7 p.m.
The Life Care Center of Tullahoma
1715 North Jackson Street
Tullahoma, TN 37388
A public book signing event for The Jäger Journal will be hosted by Life Care Center of Tullahoma Tuesday January 27 from 5-7 pm at the Center. In addition to hearing prepared comments from the author, cover artist Will Kelly will display artwork, and upcoming Jäger Journal sequel editor, Matt Clemens, will also be in attendance. Light refreshments accompanied by live music is planned.
Tuesday, January 27 5-7 p.m.
The Life Care Center of Tullahoma
1715 North Jackson Street
Tullahoma, TN 37388
The Jäger Journal print edition hits bookshelves 25 November, 2014. Months in the making, this exciting print edition is available for immediate ordering at Amazon.com. A perfect gift for all those hard to shop for individuals on your list. I look forward to sharing this exciting novel with readers everywhere.
Order now at Amazon.com by clicking here!!!
I dreamed a dream two nights ago (or was it
two weeks ago? I cannot say. One does not often remember what they dreamed or
when they dreamed it beyond the first cup of coffee in the morning.) It seems
almost too bold to say “I dreamed.”
The dreamer is actually not the active subject but, instead, the passive
object of the dream. The dreamer neither plans nor directs the dream. He just
goes along for the ride. But in this case, it was rather a nightmare instead of
a dream. (Why a female horse is saddled with the blame for galloping off with a
sleeper where he knows not, is beyond me.)
Nevertheless, in the dream, I came upon a
bard. For it was a medieval dream and a medieval bard. He sang about a glorious
land. But his was a requiem for a lost
age and a lost people.
The land he lamented was golden and wide.
It was blessed with great mountains and furrowed plains and thick forests and a
roaring river. And that golden land was dotted with homes. And each home was a
castle. And each castle had a knight and a maiden, and sons and daughters. The
castles were as varied as the people. Some were of stone, some of wood, and some
of iron. But each was sturdy and
proud. And each knight had steel in his hand and iron in his spine. And each
maiden wove the fabric of their clothes and the fabric of their
The land was happy and fruitful. But a
great red dragon slithered through the forest and came upon that blessed land in
its twilight. And the dragon cast a spell upon the land (it seems curious that
spells are always cast and never
tossed or thrown or lobbed). And the land began to shrink, and shrink, and
shrink; the great mountains became hillocks; and the thick forests became modest
orchards; and the roaring river was humbled to a sighing brook.
The land was so diminished by the dragon’s spell that it seemed to be
smaller even than that green Irish Isle upon the
But the Bard’s sorrow was not so much for
the land, but for its people. For they were not diminished in size, but in
heart. (He did not tell me this. But I felt it. One learns that about dreams.
Some things one just knows.)
The bard was broken over the brokenness of
the land and its people. The knights of the land were mostly gone. Only a
remnant, a septet, remained. There were homes but no more castles in the land.
And a new king came upon the throne in its hour of need. He spoke well. He
certainly dressed well. (Kings and queens always dress well, especially in
dreams.) He sat well. But he was really a knave. And he surrounded himself with
princes, who were really knaves in disguise. And he had a
The king ordered his craftsman (whom the
bard kept calling crafty men) to build larger and more magnificent castles. The
new architecture went up swiftly. And the king decreed that all the younglings
of the land be gathered into his castles. He sent his court jesters throughout
his diminished land to entertain them with stories and juggling balls of red and
blue and silver and gold.
It happened upon a bright morning in that
land, that a black rider upon a black horse rode up to one of the king’s castles
in one of the quieter provinces of that provincial land. He had no shield
because he had nothing to defend. But he did have a blade hanging from his belt.
(At this point in my dream, if a dream has a point, the bard began to weep. I
remember imploring him to go on with his story. How long he wept, I know not.
But then time seems not to matter in dreams anyway.) The black rider dismounted,
strode up to the castle wall, and cut a hole in it with his giant blade. As it
turns out, this wall, indeed, all of the castle walls, of this castle, and all
the king’s castles, were made simply of paper. It was stiff paper like card
stock, and richly colored and textured paper, but paper none-the-less. As the
black rider burst through the gap in the castle wall, he dropped his disguise,
which was an ingenious disguise, and revealed his black scales and claws
beneath. For, the bard told me, that black rider was really a dragon. (It seems
to me a great author once wrote that nothing is as it seems. He certainly must
have known his dreams, if he knew nothing else.) The black dragon proceeded to
eat the children in the castle in great gulps. And when the king’s champion
finally arrived in the province in answer to the cries of the children, the
dragon promptly ate himself. In the distant sky, sounded crackling, like
thunder, or was it the snickering of a great
The bard then related the deep sorrow in
that shrunken land, like Rachel weeping for her children, who would not be
comforted, because they were not, because they were eaten by Herod that great
The men and maidens of the land now petitioned the king to once again promote knights and allow them to build the former castles of stone, and wood, and iron. But he would not. For you see, the
knave king was more fearful of his own knights whom he could see than he was of
dragons whom he didn’t see. In fact, the final blow that broke the land and
broke the heart of the bard in my dream, was the day that the king and his
princes broke the swords of the last seven
How absurd. A land without castles, and homes without knights. How terribly absurd.
But, then I realized, it was only a dream.
On July 18, 2013, the city of Detroit, Michigan filed for chapter
9 bankruptcy protection. The largest municipal debt filing in U.S. history
captured national media attention and caused concern throughout the country. The
fall of a once flourishing and dominant American city raises numerous questions:
“Will this happen elsewhere? What went wrong? What can be done to prevent
Under the direction of Louis IV’s representative
in the new world Antoine de la Cadillac, French soldiers and trappers
established a trading outpost and fort along the narrow strait connecting Lake
St. Clair and Lake Erie in 1701. They named the settlement with a descriptive
French word meaning strait-Detroit.
Although the outpost prospered, strife sprouted between competing interests
of businessmen, church leaders, and government officials. Cadillac was
eventually transferred by the French crown to Louisiana in 1710, and the
following two decades of poor leadership presaged things to come.
Throughout the 1800’s the city gradually grew due to its strategic geographic importance for shipping and other transportation. Around the turn of the 20th century, manufacturing transformed the city into one of the most powerful economic centers in the country. Hard working innovators and visionary entrepreneurs like Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler led Detroit to become the
automotive manufacturing capital of the world. The assembly lines of Roosevelt’s “Arsenal of Freedom” rolled out tanks and planes destined for the hedgerows of France and the skies over the Pacific. The Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant manufactured one fourth of all U.S. tanks, and Willow Run Bomber Works produced over half of the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber fleet. By 1947, the city ranked third in the United States in the value of all manufactured goods. The 1956 Encyclopedia Americanagushed, “Exceptionally high income has given Detroiters a standard of living
that is probably unexcelled among large cities. High living standards, a pleasant climate that is relatively free from extreme conditions of heat or cold, and freedom from floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes, have done their part to make Detroit one of the healthiest cities in America.”
A markedly different state of affairs now defines Detroit. Single
mothers head a full 30% of homes. “Non-family” households comprise an additional
40%. The demise of the family and a void in leadership, I believe, tell a story
punctuated by Detroit’s recent bankruptcy. Leaders, real leaders, model what
they say they believe. And, those they are privileged to lead generally
Poverty and single motherhood are linked. A weak
tax base, a paucity of once plentiful industrial manufacturing jobs, a poor
educational system, and a decimated housing market strain the city’s ability to
provide public health, sanitation, and crime prevention services.
Rampant crime plagues the city. Could it be the root problem is the
prolonged lack of caring, committed, and competent leadership in the city and
its families? Could the solution be a return to true family values which are
encouraged at all levels of city government? What if the ethic of hard work,
sacrifice, delayed gratification, and integrity were adopted and modeled by the
Detroit city “fathers”? Could we see a revival of the “Motor City” if men were
taught and bought the responsibility of becoming loving husbands, fathers, and
citizens? I believe we could.
May this kind of revival become a reality, and may Detroit one
day become a gleaming example of what a culture built on strong families can
Words have power. Their potential for good or evil is immeasurable. We’ve heard it said, accurately, I believe, the pen is mightier than the sword. Well-crafted phrases have encouraged the fearful, rebuked the wicked, and cheered the sorrowful.
My high school, C.M. Russell in Great Falls, Montana, required four years of English for every student. Why? Because somewhere long ago in a land far, far away, somebody decided that high school students needed at least a rudimentary ability to communicate orally and in writing with other humans. Relationships are built on good communication.
Any consultant worth his salt will tell you that communication is critical to success in business. Bringing to the clanging marketplace a unique product, is a challenge overcome when the inventor and entrepreneur listen and hear the yearnings of the people and meet the need of the hour.
In the often complicated and hurried world of medicine, healing is inextricably linked to good doctor/patient and doctor/nurse communication. The word “doctor” comes from the Latin “docere” which means “to teach”. Good doctors inform and teach and learn from their patients. A doctor who cannot listen carefully, write legibly, and speak clearly does not practice the best medicine. And, I propose, he does not share in the joy of friendship and healing.
Many in our culture have lost or, more probably, never attained basic proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. A disdain for vocabulary, spelling, and grammar reflects ignorance of the importance the “basics”. Admittedly, the basics are not usually fun, but they are important. There’s an analogy here. It’s hard work to learn to ride a bicycle. The scrape-kneed child is tempted to quit and thus never experience the joy and freedom of rolling down sidewalks and streets on spinning wheels. Likewise, the student of language may struggle with the diagrammed sentence, the dangling participle, and the misplaced comma. We must encourage him to endure in the arena and grapple, as Jacob the patriarch did, until the breaking of the day, when he said to the angel, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” The rewards of a nascent mastery of our mother tongue are enormous.
As the vocabulary of the average young American shrinks, so does the capacity for critical thinking. We each have an opportunity to change this. I challenge my readers. I challenge myself. Read good literature. Learn to write better. Expand your vocabulary. Let the joy you find in learning inspire others.
The hallmark of dementia is a short term memory deficit. A second, equally devastating symptom, is a progressive lack of communication.
My family and I attended a public gathering last evening in a neighboring city with an estimated 800 in attendance. The occasion was promoted as an opportunity for dialogue. I was disappointed, but not surprised, at the lack of dialogue. The word “dialogue” comes from the Greek root “dia”, meaning “through”, and “logos”, meaning “word”. A dialogue then is to be a “talking through”. Tragically, the factions last night did anything but “talk through” their differences. The host group talked down to the audience, while many in the audience shouted at the various speakers. The chance for honest give and take had been lost when the organizers’ format resulted in a series of lectures rather than a panel discussion with adequate time for reasoned questions and answers. The resulting frustration of some in the crowd was vented via repeated interruptions. This discouraging event was simply one manifestation of our cultural lack of either the desire or ability to really communicate.
We have more means of “talking to each other” than ever in history. But, I am convinced we see less real communication than ever before. Thus, we have national dementia.
The speed of society has driven some of this relational demise. Years ago I read Richard Swenson‘s book Margin. He nails the dilemma squarely by identifying our penchant for overcommitting. This lack of restraint may be well intentioned but is unhealthy none the less. It leads to underperformance as we never seem to get done the things we “need” and want to do. We are attempting so many things simultaneously that we can’t seem to do anything well. We have self or otherwise imposed deadlines that we just can’t meet. We rise earlier and earlier and go to bed later and later. We’re always fatigued. By the end of the day we are totally exhausted, frustrated, and not infrequently cranky. In this milieu, try having a deep, meaningful conversation with your spouse or child!
As a family doc, I see this behavior causally related to a host of health problems. People are so busy without adequate time for sleep, exercise, intimate conversation, or simple reflection. They major on fast food, power lunches, and quick snacks on the run. We did Sunday School survey years ago and were stunned by the abysmally low number of meals shared each week by the “average family”. I suspect today’s families fare no better.
Alzheimer’s dementia is largely irreversible. But, our national plight is treatable if enough individuals are willing to go against the culture and have the courage to lead us out of the morass. Each of us must choose to limit our activities to what is manageable. We must learn to say, “No,” to good things so we may say “Yes,” to the best things. We must return to a time of sitting at meals together with family and friends and eating slowly with pleasant conversation. We must turn our cell phones off for a time and talk to the person sitting across from us. We must go for walks, or rather strolls, in the park or through the woods or around the block. Texting has its place, but real dialogue includes eye contact and body language and tone of voice.
If we choose to live intentionally and well rather than fast, we may regain a sense of balance and margin in our lives. We can connect to our family and friends. We can know what is really going on in the hearts of our loved ones. We can live healthier and happier lives. We simply have to want it bad enough to make some real changes. May God give us the grace to do so.
I am pleased to announce the 3 June publishing of The Jäger Journal. Now available exclusively through Amazon Kindle store, you can purchase your very own copy by following this link to the Amazon Kindle store.
The Jäger Journal is a tale of mystery and history. Regrettably, many in America today forget or ignore history. We as a culture suffer from a case of “national dementia.”
Dementia is an insidious condition of the brain. Several diseases cause dementia including Alzheimer’s and recurrent strokes. The word “dementia” comes from the two roots “de” meaning “to reduce or degrade” and “mens” meaning “mind.” The hallmark of dementia is a lack of recent memory. In Alzheimer’s dementia, short term and remote memory also eventually decay. As the disease progresses, the patient struggling with dementia may experience poor judgment, disorientation, and changes in mood and personality. Dementia is a shattering disease for the person with the condition and those who love and care for him or her. The disease inexorably ravages the mind and then the body. The arrows in our medicinal quiver are pitifully few. The results of pharmacological treatment are generally disappointing.
My premise for this, my first blog, is that America is suffering from “national dementia.” Specifically, we are losing the collective memory of our national history. We are culturally demented, i.e. we have “lost our mind.” Studying history is critical regaining to our cultural health.
In 2011 Newsweek reported in its March 28 edition that only 62 percent of adult Americans chosen at random passed the basic history test given to immigrants seeking citizenship. A NY Times article from the same year reported American students were woefully inadequate in their understanding of history. In fact, the fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders tested scored lower on American history than any other subject in the assessment known as the Nation’s Report Card. Increasingly, a rigorous study of history is purposely omitted from public education in favor of more “culturally relevant” topics.
Some may ask, “So what? Why bother to study history at all? It’s just boring memorization of dates, presidents, and battles.”
You, the reader, have almost unlimited reading resources, but limited time. You must carefully choose what is worthy of your precious minutes each day. My goal is to give you something entertaining, educational, and thought-provoking. We will review and discuss topics of relevance to our daily lives and challenge each other to think. Most of our attention will be on works often overlooked, neglected, or forgotten.
History is the study and interpretation of the past. It’s the retelling of a story. It’s a collective memory of events and people who have come before. Today, unfortunately, many act as if nothing of importance occurred before their own birth. This is cultural narcissism. But, a cursory examination of any of the major fields of academics, the professions, and the craft trades yields the same conclusion- we owe a tremendous debt to those who came before. The physician, the attorney, the professor, the builder, the architect, the soldier, the farmer, the scientist, the homemaker each builds on the toil and sacrifice of hundreds or thousands before them. May we begin a journey where we discover the rewards of a diligent study of history.