Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Progressive When We Want To Be

Last month my son and I spent a week traveling across Central and Eastern Europe on a bus. It was a remarkable experience and helped us learn a lot about history and also a lot about the European perspective on life.

One thing that we learned was that Europeans are only progressive when they want to be. They can also embrace many regressive ideas regardless of how liberal of a reputation they have. For example, when it comes to income taxes, several countries have a “flat tax” where everyone, regardless of income level, pays the same percentage of their income in taxes. And those taxes are quite high. For example, France has the highest income tax in Europe, at 57%. Austria’s rate is 54%. Most other European countries are at 50% or more. The “low tax” nations are mostly in the high 40% range. In most of those nations, everyone pays the same rate. In America we have different rates for different income levels, with the concept that those who make more money can afford to pay more, a much more progressive system. Another example is how liberal Europeans have made very few allowances for people with disabilities. There are very few handicapped accessible areas, especially in historical buildings. For them, the historical nature of the building trumps the importance of all people being able to enjoy the building. As a result, for most handicapped people, many of the buildings are Europe are simply impossible to navigate.


But the point of my post is not to debate the fairness of flat tax versus varied tax rates or to extoll the virtues of the American Disabilities Act which requires equal access for all in public places. The point of my post is to demonstrate that we all tend to be “progressive” when we want to be, and ONLY when we want to be. We tend to think we are enlightened in our viewpoints about things that are important to us but have huge blind spots that we fail to see on issues that we may think has no direct impact on us. We tend to not like it when others point out those blind spots to us. We defend our enlightened views while in reality we are glaringly unenlightened about so many other things. Perhaps we would be healthier people, and a healthier society if we were more willing to hear other people’s perspectives on how our decisions impact their lives. We may not always agree with each other. And honestly, we may not be able to make everyone happy. Someone might even “lose” some benefit or right that they would like to have. But at least if we all learned to listen to each other instead of ignoring, or worse, yelling, at each other, we might at least understand how a decision on some issue actually impacts the lives of the people around us. And that would be enlightened indeed!

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Blinded By Our Own Racism

My son and I spent a week on a bus tour of Central and Eastern Europe last month. It was truly a remarkable experience and helped us learn a lot about history and also a lot about the European perspective on life.

One thing we learned was that liberal Europeans tend to think of America as still being a racist nation while thinking of themselves as more enlightened and accepting of various races. Europeans like to point out their acceptance of immigrants during the Syrian crisis as one proof of their enlightened views. Sounds cut and dry, and easy to understand. That is, until you bring up Gypsies. Gypsies, or more properly called “Roma,” are spread across Europe. They are especially common in Eastern Europe. Though Europeans pride themselves on having outgrown racism, we heard over and over again on our trip how we need to be cautious around the Gypsies. They were described to us as “lazy and dishonest” and also frequently called “pickpockets and thieves.” Europeans do not consider this to be a racist statement, they just consider it to be factual because “everyone knows Gypsies are bad.” WOW! All my American emotional triggers were going off! And rightly so. To condemn an entire category of people just because a handful might be pickpockets is the very definition of racism.

But the point of my post is not to argue about crime statistics for Gypsies in Europe. The point of my post is to illustrate how cultural blind spots exist in every culture.  For many Europeans, being racist toward gypsies is an “acceptable” viewpoint even though Europeans work hard not to be racist. Though it is clearly a racist opinion, they cannot see their own hypocrisy on the issue. They condemn Americans for our racist views (and perhaps rightly so!) but miss seeing their own.

I think this is a great teaching moment for anyone who will take time to reflect on it. I think all of us, Americans and Europeans, regardless of our race, have certain cultural blind spots in how we view others. We tend to lump large groups together and make broad negative statements about them. This is always a bad idea. Yet most of us do it. We may think we have moved beyond it, but others see our inconsistency far more than we can see it in ourselves. This is something we must continue to work on as individuals and as a nation. But it is worth the effort and worth the struggle. Imagine how it must be for a Gypsy child walking down the street watching everyone grab their pocket books in fear that the child will steal their money. That is no way for a child to grow up. Replace the word “gypsy” for any other group, and we begin to see how dangerous this viewpoint is.

We may not be nearly as enlightened as we think we are. But thankfully, we can reflect on this reality and grow in our worldview concerning those who are different from us. This is something we can, and must, do.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Will The Church Be There When We Need It?


Last month I spent a week traveling across Europe. This was a trip I had wanted to take for many years but for a variety of reasons had never been able to do it. Finally, several doors opened at once and the trip became possible. One of my sons and I spent a week on a bus with a group touring the historical sites of a number of cities in Central and Eastern Europe. It was truly a remarkable experience and helped me learn a lot about history and also a lot about the European perspective on life.

We visited a lot of cathedrals. The architecture of those cathedrals left us in awe. One German city we visited had 109 such glorious buildings. When we asked how many people in that city attend church on a regular basis, we found out it was less than 20%. The tour guide said that “though liberal Europeans don't go to church often; they want the church to be there when they need it.” She went on to explain that because of this desire to have the church there when one needs it, most Germans are willing to designate 10% of their income tax to maintain Catholic and Lutheran churches. She pointed out that no other denomination gets that tax benefit, just those two. 

That is a truth we American would find hard to accept. We are so accustomed to hearing about the separation of church and state that the idea that individuals could designate a portion of their income tax to maintain church buildings and that only certain denominations would quality for that designation would cause an uproar across America. But in liberal Europe, it is a common and widely accepted practice.

But the point of my blog is not to debate the differences in how Europeans and Americans view the separation of church and state. The point I want to make is the commonality of how in both Europe and America, fewer people go to church than in previous generations but people still tend to want the church to be there when they need it. At least in Europe, they have figured out a practical way to make that possible, even if only for the two largest denominations. Since that system will not work in America, it is up to each of us as individuals to decide how much we value the church. If we want the church to be there when we need it, we might need to show up a little more often, donate a little more to the church’s offering, and volunteer more frequently to help in the ministries and programs of the church. No government agency is going to pay the bill for us, we have to do it ourselves. Are we willing?

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What Do We Love?

What do we love? Certain types of food? Certain sports teams? Some political cause? Money? Sexual gratification? Power? Fame? The list could go on and on, and the list would be different for some people and maybe longer for others. But we all have certain things that we love. Our love for those things causes us to change our schedules, our budgets, and even our friendships so that we can make more room for the things we love.

Love is powerful. But sometimes love is also misguided. Consider the amount of money spent in America on professional sports while homeless people sleep in the shadow of those massive sports arenas. Consider the amount of time spent accumulating power and prestige in some club or social group while the actual mission or purpose of that club or group goes unfulfilled because there are not enough volunteers to get the work done. When we love the wrong things, it makes life less satisfying and society weaker than if we loved the right things.

So what should we love?

Here is a powerful Word from God about what we should love:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever"   1 John 2:15-17

If we all took those verses and applied them to our personal lives, how would it change what we love?

Lord, help us to love You and to love the things You love. Amen.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: