Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Sheepdog

I have known my husband for half his life, and I think I know him pretty well by now, with our 3rd anniversary coming up. Still, I haven't been able to put into words his "Calling" until I read this article. Now, I know what he is--who he is, as defined by his passions, his standards, his God-given gifts---and boy, does it just bless me beyond words to have this man as my husband! My own beloved Sheepdog.
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Wolves, Sheep, & Sheepdogs
by Willliam J. Bennett
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Some of you will understand this. Some of you won't.  That's life.
 
William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 said: 
 
"Most of the people in our society are sheep.  They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident."  We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare.  This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation.  They are sheep.


Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.  Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without  mercy?  You better believe it.  There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs and I'm a sheepdog.  I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.  If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep.  If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf.  But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow
citizens?  What do you have then?  A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the unchartered path.  Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world.   They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.  But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed  police officer in their kid's school.  Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial.  The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog.  He looks a lot like the wolf.  He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep.  Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.  The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.  Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep.  He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land.  They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic  tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."  Until the wolf shows up. Then the  entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The  students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer.  They were not bad kids;  they just had nothing to say to a cop.  When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.

This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.  Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel?  Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog;  it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter:  He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the  night, and yearning for a righteous battle.  That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently.  The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes."  The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes.  Maybe I could have made a difference."  You want to be able to make a difference.  There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage.  Only one.  And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence:  assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers.  The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language:  slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness.  They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.  Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs.  But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the  attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey.  Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist hijackers.  In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents --  from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of  lives on the ground.

"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke.  Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year.   In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep.  Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves.  They didn't have a choice.

But you are not a critter.  As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be.  It is a conscious, moral decision.  If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a  sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay.  When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.  If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love.  But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy.  It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice.  It is a matter of degrees, a continuum.  On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other.  Most of us live somewhere in between.

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial.  The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously.  It's ok to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheep dog. Indeed, the sheep dog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving from "baa" to "thanks".

We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot.  We just need a small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional tank which is drained  protecting the sheep.  And when our number is called by "The Almighty", and day retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be a sheep.  And be grateful for the thousands - - millions - - of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.
   
 

16 comments:

Herb of Grace said...

Okay. Very touching. And I understand the point of view. But surely there are more options than sheep or sheepdog? Or perhaps I am reading into the term "sheep" a harsher judgment of character than is intended by the author.

Further Up & Further In said...

Yeah, "Sheep" typically are known as people who blindly follow social leaders without thought or judgment of their own. I think in this speech, however, Bennett is using the term to describe a more specific Sheep mindset of "Deep down there is good in everyone, therefore we shouldn't worry about evil people taking over the world. There is no need to equip schools with policemen. Good will prevail on its own without any vigilant intervention"

You can be a successful, smart, independent-thinking sheep, even a politically active sheep, but still be a sheep in the sense that you are non-violent, non-aggressive, and want only the best for your fellow man. You do not have a predisposition or an urge to fight. Most people are this way.....and that makes them "Not" sheepdogs, and makes them....Sheep.

It's not a judgment of character. It's a commentary on a lack of sheepdogginess.

Herb of Grace said...

Well, I still take issue with the idea that there are Sheepdogs (noble heroes) and then there are the dummies who think:

"Deep down there is good in everyone, therefore we shouldn't worry about evil people taking over the world. There is no need to equip schools with policemen. Good will prevail on its own without any vigilant intervention"

What about the servants, the peacemakers, the humble and the poor in spirit? Why does being "non-violent, non-aggressive and wanting the best for your fellow man" earn you the less-noble title of "sheep"?

I'm not saying we don't need policemen (although I certainly don't think they ought to be in our schools), firefighters or soldiers. I am saying that I object to the higher place of honor being given them in this piece. I don't think this echoes a Scriptural view of priorities. And I do think he's making a judgment of character, not merely "a lack of sheepdoginess", otherwise I don't think he'd use the loaded term "sheep".

I'm not objecting to your admiration of certain characteristics that you find noble in your husband. I think they ARE noble characteristics in Ben. I object to the generalizations made in this piece by Bennet and in other places by other men like him.

j said...

Hi, Susi. Lis mentioned this post to me, so I came over to read it. Sorry that my first comment on your blog will be strong disagreement, but I find Bennett's argument completely bogus and even disingenuous.

Of course Bennett's argument suggests that if I disagree, I must be a sheep. If I don't think public schools need armed guards, or U.S. airports need soldiers with assault rifles (and I don't), then I must be a sheep. Bennett postures as a tough-guy, but this is weakness. If you have a good argument, defend it manfully on its merits. To suggest that opponents disagree because they are lesser people is a cheap attempt to stifle dissent by name-calling.

And despite his ridiculous and empty assurance to the contrary, of course there is something "morally superior about being a sheepdog." Courage is a moral virtue and cowardice a moral failing. The metaphor itself is charged with value judgment -- nobody wants to be a sheep. Everybody (even bureaucrats who never served a day in the military, like Mr. Bennett) would want to be thought of as a sheepdog. But buying Mr. Bennett's bullshit does not equate to courage, and calling him on it does not equate to cowardice.

Nor does it equate to naivete or denial. Understanding that there are evil people in the world is not the same as agreeing with Bennett on how they should be dealt with. In fact, I think that there's a kind of hoo-rah cowardice that's gripped America: there are bad guys and they scare me, so support the troops who do whatever it takes to keep me alive. Whatever spirit informed "Live free or die" and "give me liberty or give me death" has largely been replaced by a base willingness to trade in anything for the promise of security.

It's not "ok to be a sheep." Bennett saying this to a room full of naval officers is ridiculous condescension. It's "hey, we tough guys don't look down on the little people." Every man has a responsibility to defend his family and his community. This is not a responsibility that can be outsourced to a professional class of "sheepdogs," and it's not a responsibility that can be bought back by pandering to a roomful of soldiers with macho talk after a career spent as a bureaucrat.

Our nation wasn't founded on any dichotomy between "sheep" and their keepers, and I don't want self-appointed "sheepdogs" imposing their views of national security because they believe no one else has the courage to face what threatens us.

Sandra said...

My goodness! I think too many people are reading too much into what Mr. Bennett said. A person can pick apart almost anything someone else says if they are looking at it from a minutely different angle.

Denise said...

I am pretty upset at "J"'s comments, as they come across as injured self-worth rather than a good explaination of his disagreement with Bennett's speach.

I much prefer Lisi's thoughtful disagreement and ideas.

My opinion? (That's what all these are, even Mr. Bennett's.) This article has some truth in it. BUT not all sheepdogs are military/law enforcement. I think on a personal level, each person can be the valiant/defending sheepdog to their family, to those around them they see being abused/neglected, to the weak and poor and old. HOWEVER, to be fair, when it comes to being a sheepdog for the MASSES, I think that's hard to argue with. It IS the military and law enforcement. They're the ones with the authority and power to do that.

This is not a judgement of character, since I think everyone (specifically men) should be a sheepdog to those around them. However, those that take on the calling of defending the masses ARE different. They are choosing that, maybe it's a calling.

If you speak to someone who's actually served overseas in one of our wars, you might listen to what they have to say, because I think it would echo this article.

Susi, Ben is a hero to me, and to many I know. I think he is TRULY a humble, loving, self-sacrificing sheepdog that I'm grateful has been there fighting so that another 9-11 doesn't happen on our soil. His sacrifice is not overlooked. Nor is yours, dear friend. Thank God for Ben.

(Lisi: I hope you know I don't know Jeremiah well, but I view him as I do my brothers and father: a valiant, humble, man of courage would would stand up for right in the same way men in Denmark did when they took in Jews and hid them, and protected them from that Evil. They fought on a different, but still desperately needed, front.)

Ben said...

I'm thrilled to see so many people posting on one topic. Here are my views, for what they are worth. This topic, by the way, is something that I've recently been talking to Susi about; I'd love some counterarguments/feedback on what you guys think.

First of all –perspective. I do not find the scriptures to laud the soldier. I find them to laud the widow who gives her “fortune”, and the Samaritan who helps someone that cannot repay him, etc. If others find my profession to be worthy of praise, so be it. I would like to think that I have positively influenced history –that I have done “good” over here, but I will let my opinions on this matter be my own, for now. I am honored by those of you that think me a “hero”. Thank you. But see me for what I am –a fallen man who is nothing but the “sword” of the government he promised to protect.

"Sheep" is easily condescending, especially when spoken from the mouth of one who knows the mind of his audience. Its immensely easy to share a snide smile with everyone in the room (of naval officers) when you declare the moral equivalence of those who will defend their "X" (when X = what your values declare worth defending to the point of violence) with those who choose not to. Understood. So Bennett is a bit of an ass... I, too, pop out a swishing tail and pointy ears far too often. And of course a fool might be taken in with his fool's argument: that he is on moral high ground because of his view – a kind of name calling, right J? Let me differentiate between those that choose not to be violent, and those that are willfully ignorant. I have no tolerance for those men that would stick their head in the sand and ignore the possibility of what violence may happen. I have a solid respect (and a firm disagreement with) those men that have faced violence and will not harm another. God bless them!

So, now comes my the part I get all fired up about (that, perhaps, is “my calling”). I'll quote J: "Every man has a responsibility to defend his family and his community. This is not a responsibility that can be outsourced to a professional class of 'sheepdogs'..." Absolutely. Besides physical protection, I'm going to assume (please correct my assumptions if they are wrong) that you mean a more “political” protection, too, like being active in your community and government, remaining informed on current issues, and praying for those in authority over you. But since my job directly relates strongly to the physical aspects of “defend his family and community”, and I am nothing if not a teacher to my solders, I ask the readers of this post what they intend to do, if anything, to physically fulfill that physical responsibility? Do you carry a firearm or other weapon? Do you know your state's laws governing the usage of that firearm or other weapon? Do you patrol the streets, in a literal neighborhood watch, keeping your family (and indirectly, your community) safe? If not, then do you think there should be a profession of people, from your community, that would do this for you? I'm fairly certain that the concept of specialization is an economically/practically viable one. Not everyone can teach, so lets hire teachers to influence our children. Of course, the responsibility of teaching, and ultimately raising the children is that of the parents. They must decided a suitable teacher, or be that suitable teacher. Ditto the law enforcement. I could go on, I think, but at the peril of losing anyone who has already suffered through this much reading (especially for a comment!). I leave you with this question. How will you handle the physical defense?

j said...

Blog discussions are a lot easier with people you don't know.

I take exception to Bennett characterizing those who disagree with his politics as "sheep". They are those who supposedly forget or ignore that "there are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds." They are those who don't agree to "confront the wolf" in the way Bennett thinks we should. Ultimately, they are those who need to stay out of the way and not criticize Bennett and his buddies ("do not kick the sheepdog").

Courage is not ideological. What is admirable in Ben and other soldiers who enlisted out of a sense of duty or a desire to protect is their willingness to risk life and limb for a cause they believe in. It is not their political beliefs about the best way to deal with terrorism, whether the war in Iraq has made our country safer, or whether we need to attack Iran next.

My comments are not motivated by injured self-worth, but by a strong dislike of what I consider a manipulative and dishonest argument.

j said...

Hi, Ben. My comment above was more a response to Denise. I'll get back to you hopefully later tonight.

Sandra said...

This comment is directed towards Lisi's statements.
There surely are more options than sheep and sheepdogs, but those are the examples that Mr. Bennett used.
In your 2nd comment, you "took issue" w/the fact that "Deep down there is good in everyone... Good will prevail on its own w/out any vigilant intervention". I know you know that this statement is contrary to Scripture. Also, no one has said that the people who believe in protection w/ the use of violence, if necessary, do not want the best for their fellow man. If someone wants to give a "less noble" title to a person who lives by their convictions and chooses not to fight, Oh well! Believers in many countries put up with much more.
Bennett's audience WAS a group of people who were convicted to FIGHT for freedom, and what he said encouraged them.
Our country, because of the men and women who have fought and died for this freedom, has given us the right to speak our minds (for the time being).
Thank God we are not required to agree w/everything that has been said (as of yet). The only thing we, as believers, are required to do, is to be dedicated to God's Word and obey the Holy Spirit. He is the one we will ultimately answer to for the choices that we make.

Herb of Grace said...

Sue, would you consider re-posting Ben's comment as a new post as it is a bit difficult for my ADD brain to follow in this weird format? I'd like to respond to it, as would J, if you don't mind re-posting...

Sandra said...

I think a monster has been created! I think I like blogging, but will (in the future) curb my habit.
I don't see how Jeremiah can see Bennett's statements as bogus and disingenuous.
First of all, sheep and sheepdogs are just word pictures. They may not make the best speech in the world, but there is definitely no "argument" going on. Just a belief being stated.
Who cares if Bennett thinks you are a sheep if you don't agree w/his way of thinking (which, nowhere in his speech did I get this Idea).
I agree w/ your thinking that schools or airports don't (or is that shouldn't) need armed guards w/ assault rifles, but I sure am glad when they are behind the scenes, ready to protect us (Which is what God told us they were there for).
Again, I missed the part where he stated that if you disagree w/his view then you are a sheep.
Someone I know very well once told me that the only difference between a coward and a person of courage is whether or not that person rises up to do that difficult thing in his/her life when being led to do it. I must confess that there have been times that I have failed, but by the grace of God, there were also times when I have done what I know to be right! (and forgetting what is behind I press on).
You may be correct about mans' view on courage and cowardice, but what does God say about it? - Judges 7.
I think you are incorrect in your assessment of Bennett's motives (your judgement of him) and I believe he means what he said and is just encouraging people of like minds. Maybe it would be more beneficial for him and you both, if you kept this man (and others you have the same feeling for) in prayer.
It all just puts us one step closer. To quote a song, God's time "is soon and not yet".

j said...

I've said that Bennett is dismissing those who disagree with his politics as sheep. Here's where I see that in his speech.

Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

This argument -- that we are engaged in an ideological struggle of good versus evil, light versus darkness -- is the last defense of the proponents of war, now that it has been widely accepted (even by the Bush administration) that there were no weapons of mass destruction or al-Qaeda in Iraq when we invaded. The statement means much more than just "you have to admit that people are evil." It is a label for a political portmanteau that holds all kinds of assumptions and ideas. In short, it means "our continued military action in the Middle East is justified because we're beating up bad guys."

And in this "light-versus-darkness" argument, those who think we should not have gone into Iraq and/or should leave as soon as possible are people who "forget or pretend" not to know that "there are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds." Sheep.

In short, if Bennett meant only "never forget that people are capable of great evil," I'd have no issue with that sentiment. But I'm sure he means much more. The officers he's talking to also know he means much more.

Next:

We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

This seems pretty direct to me. If you are not willing to accept armed police officers in schools and soldiers in airports, it is because you are a sheep who's forgotten about the wolves. Bennett does not extend his list of police-state inconveniences we're supposed to thankfully welcome as protection by our sheepdogs, but I will:

* warrantless wiretaps on our phones
* federal databases of our emails and Internet searches
* the president's sole and unsupervised authority to declare anyone an "enemy combatant" and have them shipped to a detention center without trial or charges
* "enhanced interrogation" (torture)

These are all defended by neo-conservatives like Bennett as necessary measures to ensure our safety. Those, like myself, who sympathize with Ben Franklin -- "those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" -- are accused of not understanding or accepting what is necessary to keep us safe.

Instead of individual liberty, we are encouraged to trust the government so that they can keep us alive. They're the sheepdogs, we're the sheep, we should keep our bleats to ourselves and let them do their jobs. Our discontent is not the voices of citizens demanding that our public servants return to the constitutional restrictions on governmental power, but just more evidence of our sheepiness:

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. ... the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

Ben said...

Interesting how I never once assumed that Dr. Bennett was his speech to endorse the removal of civil liberties. Ideologically, I fall strongly on the "Ben Franklin" side of things, but I'm uncertain on how things will work without certain agencies having certain powers. Its a balance, I guess (or perhaps a hard line that must be towed --no loss of civil liberties regardless of the consequences). I'm just not sure.

I had considered Bennett's speech as a commentary on the nature of man (and if it is, I do not wholly agree with his views, either..."good men"), not as a political roadmap. I suppose I applied Bennett's speech to the arming of citizens. My comments, I hope, reflect that. I'd love for an answer on my comment in that light.

Herb of Grace said...

sandy, you misunderstood my use of that quote. I wasn't stating my own beliefs, simply quoting Bennet. I am a good Calvinist at heart ;)

Sandra said...

Hi, again. I don't think Dr. Bennett is dismissing those who disagree with his political views as sheep, he is just not taking into account all, or any, other possibilities.
We are engaged in an ideological struggle of good vs. evil but, what makes America good and Iraq (or any other place) evil? How does this statement justify our being over there? Why does this statement make the U.S. defender of the world with ITS concept of what is good and what is evil? Look at what is done in our own back yards.
In your 4th paragraph, Jeremiah, you/he conclude something that isn't necessarily true. "Those who think we should not have gone to Iraq, or should leave as soon as possible are people who "forget or pretend" not to know that "there are evil men in this world and that they are capable of evil deeds." Another conclusion might be, that if we are not doing anything beneficial for Americans or the security of America then we shouldn't be sacrificing American lives. He did not state this obvious possibility, but then it did not serve the purpose that he intended for his speech.
In your 2nd concern, Bennett states the point that sheep get upset if they see guards because they don't want to know, or think that anything is wrong with their world (denial).
In para. 1 Bennett defines sheep as "basically good people who only hurt one another by accident or extreme provocation. In para. 2, he adds to his definition that you become a sheep when you forget or deny that there are evil men. In #4, he jumps to the conclusion that sheep MUST live in denial. You and I both know that there is AT LEAST one other option of characteristics to define the sheep he is describing.
I think he is coming to encourage these people from the direction of a particular mindset, and living in America, and having the prestige that he has, he has the ability to do this. Just as, if you were going to give this speech, you would do it a totally different way.
I understand and share many of your concerns about our government, but MANY people have neither read about nor understood any other concept of government and are quite content letting Big Daddy take care of them in this, and other ways.
I agree with Ben in his statement that he doesn't think that Dr. Bennett is endorsing the loss of civil liberties. But I do think, that with the loss of God's Word in schools and our denial of Him as a nation (not necessarily word yet, but definitely deed), that we are reaping what we have sown.