Feel Like A Civil War Is Coming? You’re Supposed To.

antietam-140324_1280Do you feel like the world is going crazy? You’re supposed to feel that way.

News corporations make gazillions exploiting our fears and making us angry. They make their videos dramatic and attractive so we will keep watching and scrolling and clicking. The “news” about a coming civil war is a tragic example.

The media is specially designed to manipulate our emotions by people who profit from our division and discontent. And it’s having real world consequences. It’s leading us to make decisions that many of us regret, losing the freedom and purpose and peace that we all could otherwise experience.

Neil Postman knew all this in the 1980’s. His prophetic book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business should be required reading for anyone who wants to avoid being manipulated by media.

Postman found the News to be among the most insidious forms of media manipulation, primarily because it is presented through a medium (television) that does not encourage rational thought, but is all about stirring up our emotions. He wrote before social media, where we perpetuate irrational, emotional arguments by the petabyte.

Continue reading “Feel Like A Civil War Is Coming? You’re Supposed To.”

YouTube Kids Isn’t The Babysitter You’re Looking For

Boy Staring At A Phone
CC0 Creative Commons Attribution / by Andi Graf

Parents: If there was a cute, colorful, friendly robot that would babysit your kids for free, would you use it?

What if the robot was programmable by people around the world, so that anyone could teach it new games to play with your kids?

What if a company like Google offered this amazing robot, promising that an algorithm would make sure the user-submitted games were “family friendly?”

Then, what if you heard that some user-submitted games were sneaking through their filters, teaching the robot to play games that would scare your kids, encourage sexual practices or self-harm, or even put their lives at risk?

Well, if you’d still like use such a robot, you don’t need to wait. YouTube Kids is on your phone, ready to babysit your kids with Google-powered algorithms designed to protect your kids.

Don’t worry. Only a small fraction of kids might see their PAW Patrol friends become hypnotized by a demon-possessed doll and commit suicide by walking off a roof. Or see Mickey Mouse laying in a pool of blood after being hit by a car. Or Spider-Man peeing on Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Or Nickelodeon characters visiting a strip club. Or a live-action “family playing roughly with a young girl, including a scene in which her forehead is shaved, causing her to wail and appear to bleed.”

Those are just a few of the videos that have slipped through Google’s algorithmic babysitter documented in a recent New York Times article.

Continue reading “YouTube Kids Isn’t The Babysitter You’re Looking For”

Don’t Be Fooled By Facebook Propaganda

by Schwerdhoefer, CC0 Creative Commons

Facebook is on the hot seat these days. With claims of being a “living, breathing crime scene,” former leaders who say it is “ripping apart” society, and calls to kill a new product because of its danger to children, all is not well at the world’s most powerful social media empire.

In response to recent criticism, Facebook’s Minister of Propaganda Director of Global Safety Antigone Davis appeared on CBS This Morning to promote the company’s messaging. You can watch the 5 minute CBS segment here.

Davis’ every answer is filled with carefully crafted propaganda. Yes, propaganda. Many people will be taken in by it because it is so compelling and emotionally powerful. I hope you’ll keep reading so you and your family won’t be deceived by it.

Continue reading “Don’t Be Fooled By Facebook Propaganda”

If You Fall for a Scam, Here’s Why You’ll Do It


Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.

Unfortunately, Sam, a young American man on a dream trip to Bangkok, forgot this familiar Latin phrase. While walking towards a planned tour of the famous Grand Palace, a short, thin, local man with a toothless grin stopped him, saying the Palace was closed for renovations today. However, Sam’s new friend knew of another must-see temple: The Lucky Buddha. Patting Sam on the back, the local waved to a nearby tuk-tuk driver and negotiated a bargain ride of 20 baht (about $0.60). For no extra charge, he was told, the driver would be happy to show Sam the Shiny Miner, the place to find the best deals on precious Thai gemstones.

As Sam admired the remote shrine, another 20-something American man approached. It was refreshing to see a similar fellow traveler, so Sam relaxed into a conversation. He asked if the other man had heard of the Shiny Miner. Yes, he learned, you can get great deals on quality gems there. In fact, this young man pays for his adventures by selling gems back home for over twice what he pays for them here.

Continue reading “If You Fall for a Scam, Here’s Why You’ll Do It”

It’s Not Too Late To NOT Give Your Child A Screen For Christmas

Photo: Creative Commons, source

The most powerful corporations of our time have made it cheap and easy for us to give them direct access to the hearts and minds of our kids.

They have intentionally designed their devices to be addictive. That’s why they’re cheap; they know once we’re hooked, we’ll habitually return for everything else their advertisers want us to want.

Here’s the ultimate hypocrisy: the creators of the devices don’t give them to their kids, while spending billions on advertising to insist that you should.

Here’s why your child doesn’t need more screen time for Christmas: screens generally promote everything a parent doesn’t want their kids to become.

  • We want our kids to grow up caring about others. Screens tell them it’s all about them.
  • Instead of fostering creativity, screens foster consumption.
  • Instead of inspiring deep thoughts and unique ideas, screens are a constant distraction, the arch-enemy of deep thought.
  • Instead of improving relationships, screens isolate people, and merely online relationships are one-dimensional and fleeting.

The fact that your child— along with every other child—wants the latest device doesn’t mean you should buy it. Kids need parents who love them enough to not give them what they want, but what is best.

You wouldn’t get your kids the ingredients to make meth would you? Even if they wanted it? Even if everyone else was doing it? Why not? Screens are every bit as addictive.

If you’ve already bought your child a screen for Christmas, it’s not too late to take it back or return it to Amazon. You can get them something that helps them become the creative, loving, truly connected, socially confident, and spiritually healthy adults you long for them to be.

(PS: Want to know a secret? This post applies to adults as well.)

Need more convincing? Watch Simon Sinek’s talk about technology’s impact on millennials.

Remembering A Hero Of The Faith

What other-worldly level of strength, character, and faithfulness would it take for your spouse to write this about you after fifty (50!) years of marriage?

A brilliant thinker who could engage any scholar on that level, a consummate professional writer who could pack more into three paragraphs than anyone I ever knew, a tender-hearted lover of poetry who regaled us all with Thanatopsis and Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (all stanzas!), and a man with a sweet grin and sense of humor which sometimes veered into intricate puns and corny jokes which he delighted in telling and re-telling to any willing listener. He was nonjudgmental, humble in spirit, kind in manner and as Jesus described Nathanael, “a man in whom there is no guile.” He cherished me for over 50 years, since our first Florida College days, delighted in our two wonderful children, and loved his six precious grandchildren who gave him great joy and hope for the future.

— Sara Faye Fudge

Edward Fudge and Doug Smith
Edward Fudge with Doug  (2014)

This is the fruit of a life well lived—all-in—focused on what is most important in this world. This is what all men should aspire to become. Not necessarily a brilliant scholar, but one whom those closest to him could say “a man in whom there is no guile.” And every husband should live so that his wife could say of him “he cherished me for over 50 years.”

Continue reading “Remembering A Hero Of The Faith”

What Do You Want, And Why?

Which Way Do You Want To Go?

“Sweetheart, what do you want for dinner?”

“I don’t know, what do you feel like?”

“I don’t care, whatever sounds good to you.”

“Well, I don’t care either, and I asked you first.”

We have conversations like this all the time, don’t we? We often don’t really know what we want to do next.

But there are powerful media leaders who know exactly what they want you to do next, and next, and next, for the rest of your life. In fact, they have a plan for every minute of every day of your life, from before you were born, to after you are buried. They know what you should eat, drink, and wear. They know what you should think about, believe, and worry about. They know how you should spend your time. They know what your priorities should be, and how obsessed you should be with current fashions and trends. They know what kind of car you should drive and that you should borrow money to get it. In fact, they know that you should borrow money for just about everything, so you can have it all quicker.

They know that you should be focused on short-term pleasure more than long-term happiness. They know that you should focus on feeling good right now instead of sacrificing to make a positive difference in the world.

They know that you should accept their definition of “freedom”—which is the ability to do whatever feels good at any moment without consequences. And they help you learn that by feeding you a constant stream of increasingly sexualized and violent content, 24×7.

They want to save you the trouble of thinking about hard problems for yourself, so they boil things down for you into soundbites that help you agree more quickly with their agendas. Economics, government structures, morality, even faith systems, are really hard to work out—and they ultimately get in the way of how much fun you should be having or what is next on Netflix, so don’t worry about those things. At least, not in detail. They will provide you with the headlines that keep you feeling educated and the celebrities who eloquently espouse their values in ways that you can’t help but agree with, especially as you partake of whatever substance they know you should be free to imbibe.

All the while they’ll tell you that they want you to be happy, to live in a fair and just world and that they want to keep you safe and free and give you the chance to find a “meaningful” purpose. While they’re telling you that, they’ll be selling you something to quickly feed your short-term desires, or amplify what you’re worried about right now.

You see, if you don’t know what you want to do, you will be led to the most profitable end—profitable for those who do have a plan for your life, that is.

So, what do you want? Are you willing to take the time to seek a life purpose that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and good, which ultimately leads to the highest good for God and everyone you impact? It’s hard work, and will push you to delve into your deepest motives. But the result will be much more valuable that drifting along—unintentionally—led by powerful media leaders who would shape your desires into what is most profitable for them, at your expense.

Social Media Is Free, But …

Then we freely give back:

  • Our time
  • Our attention
  • Our ideas
  • Our photos, videos
  • Everything we like
  • A diary of our whole lives
  • Unlimited permission to data mine everything we share
  • Our relationships
  • Our future

And, because we’re all doing this, they play us against each other. We distract each other, while they keep cashing ginormous checks. While billions of us share our lives together on social media, we are the largest free workforce in history.

Of course, the irony is: I have to share this on social media because we’re all there.

Free may not be such a great deal for us after all.

You Are Not Your Feelings


Everyone’s heard this cultural mantra: our feelings define our identity. According to pop-culture wisdom, truth itself is created and validated by our feelings. We must listen to and act upon our emotions, as they are the most authentic part of who we are. Just think back to the most popular psalm of the cultural doctrine-defining movie, Frozen.

Elsa couldn’t hold back her feelings because they were the truest part of her identity. The story shows her parents reacting to her powers with the untenable command: “conceal, don’t feel.” When Elsa finally “can’t hold it back anymore,” she releases the “real her,” full of power and glamor and no limits. What an attractive message!

The problem? It’s just not true.
Continue reading “You Are Not Your Feelings”

A Call For Noble Men

Man in Wheat Field
Photo Credit: Pexels

It means something to be a Smith.

I come from a long line of Oregon wheat farmers. I tasted my heritage when Dad sent my teenage self away from my comfortable middle-class city life to hoe weeds around hundreds of acres of hot, arid, Eastern Oregon fields with my uncles and cousins. I’m grateful now, though I wasn’t then, for the front-line exposure to my family’s history. It cultivated (nice pun!) some of the honor of being a Smith within me.

I realize now that Dad taught me nobility. I learned that Smith men are hard workers. We keep our word. We are responsible. We make plans and follow through. He especially taught me that Smith men treat women, all women, with respect and honor.
Continue reading “A Call For Noble Men”