Archive for category Columns

Living on Purpose: The passion of Christ is our eternal hope

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

This is the time of year when Christians remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a season when His followers are focused on how He suffered and died on the cross and after 3 days He arose from the grave. To be honest, holy week is not really a jolly time of celebration but rather calls for serious meditation and being grateful for the gift of salvation. It is bittersweet because it’s never pleasant to imagine a person being brutally tortured (especially when they are innocent), but the fact that Jesus miraculously came back to life, is a demonstration of His infinite power and authority and why we are so filled with humility and encouragement. Jesus Christ did not just talk about love, He demonstrated His passion by suffering and surrendering His life so that we could live.

I admit I am an emotional person. I remember going to see the Passion movie a few years ago and I was disturbed to say the least. It is not uncommon for me to cry when I witness something that moves my soul and this was no exception. Recently, I was watching a story about the “Make-a-wish foundation” and how they provide a way for very sick children to experience a happy but most likely a last request and it seems I cried through the entire program. As the scenes of what Christ went through was presented before me, I kept thinking how could someone watch something like this and not be deeply stirred? I am not ashamed to wear my feelings on my sleeve, as I have no desire to hide behind a mask to pretend I am strong and not emotionally influenced. Actually, I believe if we are not careful, we can become hardened by the harshness of life and lose our spiritual sensitivity.

I think about His life and the reason why He came to earth which is explained so clearly in the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of John. I think about how He was betrayed by those He trusted and was denied by His closest friends. The religious community rejected His message and the legal system along with the demands from the general population, overwhelmingly agreed to publicly execute Him without a reason other than they hated Him. Sadly, things have not really changed that much.

We notice that He was constantly approached by those in desperate need and it was His character to be concerned and compassionate. The world has always been filled with human suffering and He is always ready to respond in love and mercy. Being emotional and even knowledgeable about the Bible is fine but that does not necessarily mean that someone is following Christ. It is what they do with what they have learned that transforms emotions into spiritual obedience. When we see someone who needs help or even an encouraging word, what good does it do to just look at them with pity. Christ was always ministering to those who would reach out to Him by faith and two thousand years later He is still pouring out His grace and forgiveness to anyone that will call upon His name.

As His followers, we have been called to focus our attention to becoming more like Him in spite of a troubled world that justifies walking over the wounded and being self-centered. His command to take up our cross includes letting go of our natural way of selfish thinking and to willingly embrace the empathy of heaven. It seems the more I learn about His life, the more I can sense what was being felt by those who knew Him. As we meditate on His message, we are given a deeper understanding of who He is, and what He wants to do through us. The reverential fear and awareness of who Jesus is and why He came is our hope for heaven and it is now our responsibility to keep our spiritual eyes focused on our mission. Beyond the new clothes and the Easter festivities, may we spend some time focusing on the one that loves us and came to save us from our ourselves.

 

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community outreach chaplain. Request a free copy of his new CD at: billyhollandministries.com

NOBLE COLUMN: Three Stories: A Teacher, a Family and a State

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

This column is about three stories – about a teacher, a family and a state. They are both historic and modern. But they are really about one very simple but very powerful idea – expectations.

First the teacher. In 1804, in the deep South Carolina back woods of what is now McCormick County, at a cross roads called Willington, four men got together and decided that their little community needed a church and their children needed a school.

They were all Scots Irish immigrants who had come to the Upcountry when it was still unsettled Indian territory, before the state was even a state. And, in keeping with their ancient families’ tradition, they were all Presbyterians.

And Presbyterians (then and now) place a high value on learning. Church rules require that their minister be ‘educated and trained’ and thus many if not most backwoods Presbyterian ministers also taught school in their church community.

The preacher who came to Willington Presbyterian Church and founded Willington Academy on the banks of the Savannah River was Dr. Moses Waddel. A native of North Carolina, Waddel had several schools before and after Willington in both North Carolina and across the Savanah River in north Georgia. But, they were all basically the same in two ways: what he demanded of his students on the front end and what his schools produced on the back end.

He required every student every night to translate, memorize and recite 250 lines of classical Greek or Latin – every student every night.

Think about this for a moment. These were not the sons of Charleston aristocratic privilege with private tutors and individualized attention. These were rough and ready boys from the hard scrabble back woods of the Carolinas and north Georgia.

And what was more remarkable than what he demanded, is what he got.

If you add up all the students from Dr. Waddel’s schools, they included: one president, two vice presidents, three secretaries of state, three secretaries of war, one assistant secretary of war, one U.S. attorney general, ministers to France, Spain and Russia, one U.S. Supreme Court justice, eleven governors, seven U.S. senators, 32 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 22 judges, eight college presidents, 17 editors of newspapers or authors, five members of the Confederate Congress, two bishops, three Brigadier-generals, and one authentic Christian martyr.

In the presidential election of 1824, three of the five candidates were his students and when the electoral dust settled, the winning president and vice president were both South Carolinians who had studied under Waddel – Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun. At one time, five S.C. governors in a row were his students.

Dr. Waddel expected greatness from his students and he got it.

Now the family. In 1945, a young man named Clay Matthews graduated from Charleston High School. He was a good athlete and went to Georgia Tech where he was a stand out in swimming, boxing and wrestling.

But, his passion and greatest skills were in football. After graduation, he had a great pro career with the San Francisco 49ers. He married and had two sons, Clay, Jr. and Bruce; they both played in the NFL and were named First Team All Pro multiple times.

Clay, Jr. had two sons and Bruce had three sons – and all five of them played NFL football. There are also three cousins that played in the NFL. That’s 11 NFL players in three generations of one family – thus, they are known as the First Family of the NFL.

The family philosophy to their children was summed up by Clay Jr., “You guys can do whatever you want, and I’ll be proud of you. But whatever you’re going to do, apply yourself, be responsible, show up and do it like you mean it.”

This was the family expectation that produced three generations of greatness.

And a state. My father was a minister and we moved from Greenville to Alabama when I was a young boy. I grew up there when Bear Bryant was coach of the University of Alabama football team. From 1958 until he retired in 1982, The Bear compiled a record of 232 wins, 46 loses and 9 ties. He won 13 SEC championships and 6 national championships. Twice he won back to back national championships.

In 1961, they were undefeated national champions and outscored their opponent 297-25. I vividly remember watching the Bear Bryant Show at the end of the season and listening to Bear apologize for the 25 points that had been scored on them – and he meant it.

What was most amazing about Bear, was that he convinced everyone in the state of Alabama, including Auburn fans, that Alabama was going to win every game, every year and be the national champions. If it didn’t happen, we all thought there was something wrong.

All of these stories are about one thing – expectations.

And what of South Carolina today – we accept an education system that is 50th in the country, we accept being rated 48th in opportunity, we accept being 46th in overall quality of life. It’s basically the same with bad roads, violent crime, domestic abuse, etc. … ‘thank God for Mississippi.’

Sam Walton said it best, “High expectations are the key to everything.”

We in South Carolina deserve better – and we must expect, and demand, better.

 

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston, is Co-founder of EnvisionSC and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Contact him at phil@philnoble.com and get his columns at www.PhilNoble.com.

My Brain on NASCAR: Racing aptitude test

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It is an awful feeling, and in the manner of grim surprises since the beginning of time, you never see it coming.

I was having a casual conversation over lunch the other day about fairly nebulous NASCAR topics, what I would consider general-knowledge questions.

We discussed the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season so far, the next few races, whether or not Tony Stewart is happy with his retirement decision, when in the world Chase Elliott will get that crucial first win, anything and everything about Dale Earnhardt, Jr. … in other words, the usual.

“So,” said my friend. “Where is Junior in the points right now, anyway?”

That’s not a hard one, right? I opened my mouth to respond, and realized I had absolutely no idea what the answer was. No clue. Air in the head completely unhindered by the presence of any relevant information whatsoever. Stumped.

Behold my personal Trojan horse. Bearing its warriors with names like Doubtus, Uncertainus and Second Guessius, one simple question knocked me right off my own horse, formerly known as High.

The survival schmoozing mechanism sprang quickly into action; how could I save myself? Could I possibly bamboozle my way out of this? “Somewhere in the middle of the field” would have been an option … yeah, right, for my mom, maybe. I should know better; I am expected to know better.

So in a misguided but well-intentioned effort to somehow avoid complete and utter public disgrace, I took the road less traveled and opted for the truth, admitting that I couldn’t remember. The fan on the street could have answered this question, but I could not.

For a person who, at least hypothetically, is supposed to know what she is talking about, there is no sicker feeling than being asked a question you don’t know the answer to. For me, it could be compared to being suddenly plunked down in the middle of an operating room, handed a scalpel and some scrubs in an unflattering shade of green, and asked to perform heart surgery. (Either that or trying to drive in Atlanta; they’d be pretty similar experiences for me on the scale of terrified confusion.)

Long story short, I would feel totally lost.

How frustrating. Society has come up with a list of clever names to describe these periods of forgetfulness we all experience, like “”brain fade” or “senior moment,” but the fact remains that sometimes when your turn rolls around, you simply draw a blank.

While this is good when playing a heated game of Scrabble and can get you out of some of those sticky spelling jams, in real life it usually has the opposite effect. Either way, it wins you no points.

In this case, I called in the cavalry, AKA Google. As of April 5, Earnhardt was ranked 25th in the driver standings, with no wins, no top fives or top 10s, and two DNFs. His average race finish so far this season is 24.5. His current ranking with fans is 1. Go figure.

Life is full of tests. Students are required to meet certain standards in subjects like reading, writing and my old nemesis, math, before they can be moved up to the next grade level. It seems we are constantly scored, reviewed and evaluated.

They run standardized tests on the cars, right? They’re used to measure things like air flow and tire pressure.

So maybe what we need is an equivalent standardized measurement of the people whose job it is to inform other people about those cars, and about the men and women who drive them. It could be used to measure our NASCAR knowledge levels, in much the same manner as the SAT evaluates critical thinking skills.

It wouldn’t even require a complicated acronym. We could go with something simple, like the Racing Aptitude Test, or RAT.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. For now, I need to sign off, as I have a busy day ahead. I need to check out NASCAR.COM, listen to some NASCAR radio on Sirius channel 90, and read the 2017 NASCAR media guide cover to cover.

Plus, my new copy of NASCAR for Dummies Who Think They Know More Than They Really Do has just arrived, so I have some major studying to take care of.

I think I smell a RAT.

 

Cathy Elliott is the former director of public relations for Darlington Raceway and author of the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR; Desktop 500; and Darlington Raceway: Too Tough to Tame. Contact her at cathyelliott@hotmail.com.

NOBLE COLUMN: Pug Ravenel and the Tragedy of What Might Have Been

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Pug Ravenel died last week. He was 79. Most people living in South Carolina today don’t know who he was or what he did. But they should learn

Pug and his life epitomize the triumphs and tragedies of what is and what might have been for South Carolina.

Full disclosure: I worked for Pug for almost two years when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1978. I was a true believer.

Pug’s life story is a combination of Camelot and a Greek tragedy. It’s the story of a golden boy who had it all. One who held the future in his hands – and saw it all turned to ashes.

First the story of the man and then the tragedy of what might have been.

Charles Dufort Ravenel was a son of South Carolina. He was born with a historic Huguenot last name that epitomized Charleston as much as pluff mud or shrimp and grits. He grew up doing all the things a young boy did in Charleston, but he was different – even back then. He was the boy that was chosen first for the baseball team and the one that all the girls gushed about.

He had something special, and everyone knew it.

And, it was as a young boy playing baseball on the Moultrie Playground that he got a nickname that stuck with him for life. He ran into a telephone pole and broke his nose thus he became Pug.

He delivered newspapers for The Post and Courier and went to Bishop England High School where he was a star athlete – a quarterback, of course. He won a scholarship to Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire which launched him into a life in the rarefied air of Harvard elites, Wall Street wealth and White House connections.

At Harvard, he was a star at football and everything else he did. Upon graduation, he won a Corning Glass Fellowship that let him travel the world studying various national economies. His travel buddy was John D. Rockefeller IV – later governor of West Virginia and U.S. Senator. He returned to Harvard for an MBA, then to Wall Street with Donaldson Lufkin Jenerette, one of the hottest firms on the Street, and then a White House Fellowship at the Treasury Department.

With his attractive, whip smart and well connected wife, Molly Curtis, and with their three cute kids in tow, he moved back to Charleston in 1972 – into a beautiful house with a backyard dock and a spectacular view of the harbor.

He had it all – smarts, charm, charisma, looks and wealth.

This is the story of the man, but what came next is the story of South Carolina and what might have been.

In 1973, he announced for governor against a crowded field of seven traditional South Carolina politicians. It was the first election after Watergate and people wanted new, change, outsiders and most of all they wanted hope. Hope for something better and hope for what could be.

Pug gave people that hope.

In an era of back slapping court house politics, he ignored the politicians and used television to  talk directly to the people. In an era where a few paragraphs of pabulum passed as a position paper, he wrote a book about policy and ideas. In an era when the insiders said ‘leave it to us’ he said to blacks, young people, women and those who were shut out ‘come join us.’ In an era where politicians talked about roads and taxes, he talked about hopes and dreams.

Pug was not about what was, but about what might be.

And, people responded in a tidal wave of support that the politicians never saw coming and did not understand even as it broke over them. He won the Democratic primary going away.

But, they struck back.

Pug had only returned to South Carolina a short time before the election and in a provision spawned by reaction to the abuses of Reconstruction, the state constitution had a five-year residency requirement that the courts ruled Pug did not meet. He was leading his Republican opponent Jim Edwards in the polls by 38 points.

Pug was disqualified.

And thus, began the path of politics that has led us to today. Republican James Edwards was elected, the first Republican since Reconstruction. Since then seven of ten governor’s elections have been won by Republicans. The state house and senate have gone from solid Democratic to solid Republican.

The same pattern has occurred across the South and this is not to say that it wasn’t inevitable that it would happen here. It might have, it probably would have – but the reality is that we missed something. We missed a chance to take a different path, a path of racial acceptance, a commitment to people and not to politics, a pursuit of what could be and not an acceptance of what has been.

As with Greek tragedies, our hero tried again with a U.S. Senate race in 1978 and a Congressional race in 1980 but came up short in both. His moment had come and gone.

And then there was the further tragedy of a divorce, business failure and jail time for bank fraud.

But, there was something more. He touched a whole generation of South Carolinians who wanted more and were willing to believe that it was possible and were willing to work their hearts out to make it happen.

At what will certainly be Pug’s over crowded funeral, you will see them. Their hair is now gray, their faces have lines – some are not here at all. But those who are, will remember. They will remember a time when they were young, a time when they thought anything was possible – in their beloved but broken South Carolina.

As with others from ancient Athens until today, the great tragedy of Pug is that he showed us something that we had not seen before. He showed us what was possible but yet, he could not take us there.

Let us not remember what was, but remember what might have been – and hope that the chance will come again for Pug’s beloved and broken South Carolina.

 

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston, is Co-founder of EnvisionSC and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Contact him at phil@philnoble.com and get his columns at www.PhilNoble.com.

Living on Purpose: There is more to being rich than having money

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We often hear the term “it’s all about the money” but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to hope and a sense of spiritual well-being. Humans use their creativity and imaginations to dream about being satisfied and I would say that fantasies about power, fame and money are the most common. The recent record-breaking lottery generated quite a bit of excitement and like everyone else I was amazed at how the jackpot grew and what a mesmerizing effect it had on the masses. It is our lust and greed for money that increases its influential power to deceive and distract us from what’s really important.

Certain religious interpretations declare that gambling is a sin and it might be, but casting lots is not always associated with wrong doing. I can agree that someone who cannot afford to pay their bills and yet will waste money on daily lottery tickets needs more than a financial advisor. Nonetheless, I personally do not see anything wrong with someone spending a couple of dollars every now and then to have a chance to be financially secure. It is true, money cannot bring happiness and I question whether or not even winning the lottery would truly be a blessing for many, as I believe that would depend on how mature and level-headed the individual is. I have also pondered that instead of praying to have more money, maybe we should spend more time asking God how to better manage what we have.

We have heard about the stories of those who have lived modest lifestyles and then suddenly find themselves with a mind-boggling amount of financial power. However, many of these testimonies have not turned out as one might think and in the end, have actually been more like a curse. I am not knocking money, in fact I need it and it can do a lot of good, but in the hands of those who pay no heed to God’s instructions it can become like a blind man operating a wrecking ball. Instead of wealth being used as an instrument to help others, if we are not careful it can actually use us by capturing our mind and possessing our soul.

The Bible mentions a lot about wealth and there is no shortage of books and sermons to help further explain the benefits and dangers. One camp teaches that God desires to bless His people with material abundance while the other side emphasizes the need to give everything we have away and to live by faith alone. I personally fall into the category of trying to find a reasonable balance that can enjoy God’s blessings while also learning how to be compassionate and generous toward others. Yes, Jesus told His followers to sell all they have, give it to the poor and take up their cross and follow Him, but does this mean literally or to just be willing? Surely there is no condemnation to work, earn a paycheck, pay our bills, have a home, and support our family all the while faithfully representing Him as a true Christian.

I have also wondered if winning the lottery is strictly by chance or if God has a hand in who wins? We realize He already knows in advance who will have the correct numbers, but how in

the world with so many people praying to win, does He choose one winner? Let’s just say it’s possible that God could give us the numbers through road signs or a dream, but we must remember that more important than having a bank filled with money is to make sure we are not in love with it. Hopefully, we all can agree that having money and being rich are two different things, and even if we have small finances, our true joy, peace and contentment will always be found in the secret place of His presence. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have turned away from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:10).

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community outreach chaplain. Request a free copy of his new CD at: billyhollandministries.com

My Brain on NASCAR: Moving on with Larson

FONTANA, CA – MARCH 26: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, applies the winners sticker in victory lane with his son, Owen, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 26, 2017 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By Cathy Elliott

Were you excited to see Kyle Larson win the Auto Club 400 on March 26? If not, I have bad news for you: You’d better get used to it.

My grandmother, to whom the word “indomitable” could be justifiably applied, once said this to me: “I know I’m getting old, because all my friends are dying.”

I can relate to that on a professional level, because all my friends are retiring.

Numerous times over the past few years we’ve talked about the fact that NASCAR is in a period of transition. Tony Stewart has retired, and although it was an unexpected early-departure situation, so has Carl Edwards.

We thought Jeff Gordon had, too, but just when we were trying to accept the fact that the four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was completely done, had stepped out of the car for good, was absolutely finished, Elvis had left the building, he was recruited to fill in during Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s extended medical leave last season.

Also, Gordon has already gone on record in this fledgling season as saying that given “an extreme circumstance,” he would be willing to crawl right back through that driver’s-side window.

If you’re a fan of Earnhardt, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray or seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, brace yourself. All of these guys are over 40, and while that’s not old by any means, I think it’s safe to say they’re all most likely eyeing that retirement door and thinking about the proper time to walk through it.

Only four drivers over the age of 50 have won races in the Cup Series – Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd, Mark Martin, and Bobby Allison. Allison is also the oldest NASCAR champion to date, winning the title in 1983 at age 45.

Drivers like these are the reason we love racing. We have grown up with them, and for us, they are the collective face of NASCAR. But that face isn’t looking quite as fresh as it once did, and at some point we’re all going to have to accept it. Yes, I’m going to say it; the time will come when we’ll all be moving on with someone younger, which is pretty exciting.

For many of us, that will be Kyle Larson.

Larson won his first Cup Series race last year, and has really poured it on so far this season, with three consecutive second-place finishes headed into the March 26 race in Fontana, California, his home state. The driver of the No. 42 Chevy SS for Chip Ganassi Racing followed up a win in the Xfinity Service King 300 on Saturday with an impressive performance on Sunday, persevering through a series of four late cautions to take the checkered flag in the Auto Club 400.

It was, to put it mildly, a good weekend.

Larson, who is 24 years old, credited longevity as a key factor in the victory.

“Every time you go back to a track for what would now be probably like my seventh or eighth time, it helps. Experience is a great thing,” he said. (By way of comparison, Johnson has competed in 25 races at Auto Club Speedway, winning six times. That’s experience.)

He went on to add, “I’m really, you know, fortunate to be driving really fast race cars right now. In both series I feel like I have a shot to win every time I go to the racetrack.  That’s always a lot of fun.  That’s always something I’ve hoped for, to get to a point of that in my NASCAR career.”

Then, he did my very favorite thing—he went third person.

“It’s a blast to show up to the racetrack every week,” he said. “It’s lot of fun to be Kyle Larson right now.”

If by this point you might think I’m being sort of catty, I will admit I’m having a little fun at the kid’s expense, but here’s how I really feel.

In a time when NASCAR’s popularity is skewing toward the low side, this young driver is in a perfect position to be one of NASCAR’s next superstars and a key player in bringing back some of the sport’s former glory. He is extremely skilled behind the wheel and refreshingly honest when dealing with the media; when he’s happy or excited, he lets it show.

Also, there’s no denying the charm to be found in the enthusiasm of youth … especially when, like Kyle Larson, you have the talent to back it up.

 

Cathy Elliott is the former public relations director at Darlington Raceway and author of the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR, Desktop 500, and Darlington Raceway: Too Tough to Tame. Contact her at cathyelliott@hotmail.com.

NOBLE COLUMN: The Future of Flipping Hamburgers

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Last week, I saw the future of flipping hamburgers – and most every other type of fast food. It was at a restaurant called Eatsa at 1626 K Street in Washington, DC.

It was both fascinating and at the same time frightening – for a whole lot of reasons but especially for fast food workers in South Carolina, and everywhere else for that matter.

More on Eatsa but first a little background.

I’ve been interested in the impact of technology on the restaurant business for a few years now. Because so much of our economy in South Carolina is based on tourism, we have lots of restaurant jobs in our state; there are 7,800 restaurants and bars with 197,000 jobs or 11% of our economy.

About two years ago, I happened into a restaurant in Myrtle Beach with a few friends for breakfast at a place called the Eggs Up Grill. We sat down, looked at the menu and when the waitress came to take our orders, she took it all down by tapping on her iPhone which sent our orders directly to a screen in the kitchen. It was pretty interesting stuff. Then I found out that the whole thing was linked up to the restaurant’s inventory system for eggs, bacon, etc. and ultimately it all linked up with the restaurant’s suppliers.

It’s all called supply chain management. Though it’s not a new thing, the fact that the technology had filtered down to a mom and pop restaurant was surprising to me.

Now, back to Eatsa. When I walked into the restaurant last week, it looked and felt different – kind of weird.

There was a bank of 12 to 15 kiosks with iPads against the right wall, several rows of brightly lit little shelfs with glass doors across the back wall, a few tables and chairs on the left and a long stand-up table down the middle. The walls were essentially bear with lots of stainless steel, glass and mirrors. It was spooky quiet with just a little light funky elevator music playing in the back ground.

There was only one restaurant employee and one girl at a table eating. The restaurant guy was leaning against the long table playing on an iPad that had a connecting ear piece.

That’s it, one guy.

A few words with iPad man sent me to the bank of kiosks on the right wall. I swiped a credit card, scrolled through the menu, made my food and drink selection and hit order. In a flash, my name and a number came up on a blue screen beside the little shelves with the clear glass doors.

I went over to talk to iPad man but before 3 minutes had passed, my food showed up on the shelf behind a now flashing glass door corresponding to my order number. As instructed, I tapped twice on the top right corner of the glass door, it flipped opened and I retrieved my food.

That’s it, quick and easy.

As I sat quietly eating my food, several folks came in, tapped on their cell phones and they immediately got their food from behind a glass door and left. For others, the food was already behind the glass door even before they waked into the restaurant.

Welcome to the future of fast food.

After I ate, I ambled over to talk with iPad man again. He was quite happy to talk as he was pretty bored. Here’s what I learned:

The restaurant was started in 2015 in (where else) San Francisco. There are three locations in San Francisco, two in New York and two in Washington.

The whole restaurant runs with just five people, iPad man and four people in the back. (They would not let me look in the back). The whole food preparation process is done by robots.

The people in the back just sort of watch the robots, wipe up any spilled food, tinker with and calibrate the robots and just sort of be there in case something happens. iPad man says nothing ever does.

They open early and stay open late. The breakfast meals go for about $3 and it’s hard to spend more than $8-9 on a whole meal during other hours. The choices are fairly limited, all the dishes are served in a bowl and the whole menu is vegetarian.

They are very quick. Some orders come up in under one minutes and never more than three or four. They serve about 350 to 400 people a day with most being carry outs.

And the food was good – not out of this world great, but good enough. It was good enough that more than half the customers come in once or twice a week. It was mostly fru fru dishes like quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry. Most customers work in the nearby office buildings and are in a hurry to get back to their desk.

The whole place and the whole experience reminded me of The Jetsons cartoon show of my youth.

Now the idea of cutting cost, especially labor cost, in the restaurant business is nothing new. Some old timers may remember Horn & Hardart automats in New York; the last one closed in 1991 (younger folks can Google it). And, the ultimate reduction in labor cost is the vending machine.

Eatsa is the logical, radical extension of this low labor cost concept – all enabled by robots, digital technology and ubiquitous mobile phones.

The scary part of all this, particularly for South Carolinians, is what this could mean for fast food workers.  There are about 72,000 fast food workers in our state. On average, they work 24 hours a week and have an annual salary of $11,000. And, they are not just a bunch of kids earning spending money. About 25% are parents with kids and 40% are 25 years old or older.

The average wage is under $9 an hour. iPad man said he makes between $12-15 an hour – but there are only 5 employees in Eatsa vs 15 per shift in most fast food restaurants. Pretty compelling math.

Now, don’t get me wrong, every McDonalds and Burger King isn’t going to look like an Eatsa any time soon. The whole thing may flop but, the trend is clear: more technology and fewer people equal lower cost.

And, because we in South Carolina have done such a poor job of educating our workforce – a very large segment of our economy is relegated to low wage jobs. There are even many high school graduates that can’t qualify for restaurant jobs. Checking on just one job board, I found openings for 752 restaurant jobs in Columbia, 635 in Charleston and 552 in Myrtle Beach – and yet, there are over 100,000 people unemployed in the state today.

So, like most every other problem we have in this state, it all comes down to improving education so that our children can qualify for real jobs with a real future.

Flipping hamburgers is not, and never will be, how we build a better economy for our people.

We can do better.

 

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston, is Co-founder of EnvisionSC and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Contact him at phil@philnoble.com and get his columns at www.PhilNoble.com

Living on Purpose: The presence of faith within community

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

The idea of faith within any community usually leads to thoughts about various types of churches and this can definitely be a part of it, however, if we step back and observe the larger picture we notice that faith is more of an overall spiritual presence than just the local assemblies themselves. We realize there is a huge difference between being religious and spiritual and this has everything to do with how we connect with God and society. The Christian evangelical emphasis is based on the great commission which involves allowing the light of Christ to shine as we associate with those who are watching. Though many have yet to embrace their spiritual mission, the needs are great and there is no shortage of opportunities to become involved. For the follower of Christ, we are given the responsibility to develop a genuine lifestyle of sensitivity and there is no greater environment to become a walking, breathing lighthouse of love and concern than in our local community.

One definition of community according to Merriam Webster is: “a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” This allows us to develop lifelong connections with neighbors, co-workers, friends, church members and businesses that can evolve into lasting relationships. Especially within the smaller communities, this concept can be preserved by caring parents and concerned individuals that are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and become actively involved so that future generations can continue to enjoy a sense of belonging.

In the 1830’s the young French nobleman, Alexis de Tocqueville traveled throughout the United States carefully observing its people and institutions. When explaining the success of America’s democratic republic to his countrymen, he commented at length about the critical role played by America’s religious devotion. He observed that spirituality was essential to forming this nation’s political convictions and I can see why. Those who genuinely walk with God are called to be a spiritual witness and testimony everywhere they go as well as being a practical asset providing stability, trust and integrity. With the stress of social correctness, we need the sincerity of sound spiritual wisdom along with moral demonstrations of God’s character now more than ever.

In 2006 and 2007, Robert Putham of Harvard and David Campbell of Notre Dame also surveyed a large and representative sample of Americans about the role of faith in their lives. One of the unique contributions of their research discovered that behaviors, attitudes and beliefs of those who are considered people of faith are more likely to give their time and financial support to both religious and non-religious causes. They also concluded with what George Washington declared in his farewell address, that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” When discussing how Christians should participate in socially responsible ways, active faith is clearly just as vital for maintaining community today as it was when the Pilgrims and Puritans arrived.

Since the foundation of love begins with God and family, we can agree the vision of community is to allow the character and compassion of Jesus to overflow into good works unto all people. This type of faith is not about denominations or a particular religious dogma, but it’s more centered on an innocent enthusiasm to cooperate with others in order to live in peace. When people are committed to following God’s directives they will not be able to ignore the needs of those around them, thus, when followers of Christ reach out to embrace community, everyone benefits. Community faith is about individuals who feel an accountability to step out beyond the walls of the organized church and interact with the world that surrounds the church. Christians were never called to be spectators – they are equipped and empowered to be participators! Social religion talks about the cross while the true disciple of Jesus is identified with what it means. In fact, all people within God’s Kingdom should be excited for the challenge to openly live what they believe and be included within society as an optimistic ingredient of faith, love and hope.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community outreach chaplain. Request a free copy of his new CD at: billyhollandministries.com

Living on Purpose: Compassion and mercy is the heart of God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

For those who have visited a nursing home or a medical care facility, you know what I mean when I refer to these places as difficult and uncomfortable. The sights and sounds are difficult for our emotions to process and explains why many would rather avoid them altogether. I have heard people say they do not like hospitals, nursing homes or funerals and this is usually because they provoke us to think more deeply. When we look around and witness how individuals are coping with aging and health problems, it is a normal response to live in denial as the old saying reminds us, “out of sight – out of mind.” However, there is really no need to dread or live in fear about our future, because whatever we may go through, God reminds us in Psalm 27 that He will always be with us and take care of us.

My good friend Ian, who is a highly intelligent and humorous newspaper editor in Texas, shared a story with me recently about his experiences with nursing homes. He said, many years ago, when he was still living in England, he was the chairman of his home town’s carnival association. This was a nonprofit committee that organized an annual festival, which included an elaborate parade that featured the annual carnival queen and her court of two princesses. These beautiful young women were the winners of a beauty pageant during a gala the previous fall and were now ready to go on tour. As a part of the carnival promotion, the association would take these girls to surrounding cities and have them participate in other parades and public appearances thereby optimizing its fund-raising potential for local charities and other worthy causes.

Ian tells how it was easy to enthuse the royal court to attend these festivities as they would quickly make friends with local celebrities along with the opportunity to meet swarms of potential suitors along the way. On each official outing, the carnival queen wore a white wedding-style ballgown and crystal crown and the two princesses wore colored ball gowns and crystal tiaras. To all the children they met, they were, indeed, touched with the magic of fairytale royalty. However, with all of the attention and star status, there was one stop on the tour that was not considered glamorous. They were required to visit a facility for physically and mentally disabled patients. My friend found himself trying to persuade these “rock stars” to devote their morning on Christmas Day to spending time with individuals whose severe handicaps would break your heart. Every Christmas holiday it was a part of his duty to collect the girls and chauffeur them to the hospital and with absolutely no hint of his inner apprehension, convince them that what they were about to do would forever change their perspective of life.

Each year, a new group of celebrities would enter the hospital with trepidation, obviously intent on getting the ordeal over and done with. However, surprisingly, these young ladies would stay at individual bedsides far longer than anyone would have expected, hugging and chatting with children who could hardly speak. The mask of pride and pomp quickly melted into a sobering realization that many innocent individuals live each day with misery and suffering. As they embraced the elderly, you could sense the power of compassion that was creating waves of gratitude and humility in everyone present. The girls always thanked everyone later for giving them the opportunity not just to spread some fairytale magic to the chronically unfortunate, but also to realize just how blessed they were.

Members of the clergy are more likely to be seen in prisons and health care facilities, but we do not need to be an ordained minister to brighten someone’s day. It is precious to develop friendships with these individuals and I know there are many lonely people that would simply love to have someone visit and talk with them. I understand it is a sacrifice to pull away from our busy schedule, but according to Matthew chapter 26, this is an act of compassion that reveals the heart of God.

Dr. Holland is a minister, community chaplain and the author of, “A Lifestyle of Worship.” Request a free copy of his new CD, “Keeper of my soul” at: billyhollandministries.com

Noble Column: S.C. is 50th in Education – Someone Should Go to Jail

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Some will think this is too strong. I don’t. Just read on and make up your own mind.

Recently, the US News and World Report released a study of the 50 states based on 68 different metrics in seven categories: health care, education, infrastructure, crime and corrections, opportunity, economy and government. For the full report, Google: US News and World Report Best States.

South Carolina ranked 45th overall and 48th in opportunity but let’s just focus on education; S.C. ranked 50th – dead last, the bottom. No ‘thank God for Mississippi’ here – we’re Mississippi.

The report combined 11 different measures of education and we were generally bad on most all of them – thus our overall rating of 50th. The only bright spot was we ranked 4th in pre-K quality.

What was the reaction to our 50th ranking from those most responsible for ensuring quality education for our children?

Gov. McMaster – nothing. Lt. Gov. Brian White – nothing. The other five statewide elected officials – nothing. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas – nothing. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman – nothing. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman – nothing. The chairs of the House and Senate education committees – nothing

Googled the news story and look for comments from these people – nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets…

Where is the outrage? Where is the shock and dismay? Where is the call for a special investigation? Where is the business community speaking out? Where are the parents, students and teachers marching down Main Street to the Capital demanding reform?

Nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets….

No one says a word. No one goes to jail.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Have we become so discouraged and beaten down, are our leaders so apathetic – that we don’t even respond? No outrage, no protest, no anger?

Nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets….

We have become a culture that does not hold people accountable. There are dozens of examples where we should be outraged that no one is held accountable. Here are just two that drive me crazy – one national, one South Carolina.

Consider the global financial crisis of the past 10 years – our economy driven to the brink of meltdown, millions of jobs and homes lost, tens of millions of ordinary people with their hopes and dreams shattered through not fault of their own. Dreams shattered by the financial ruin triggered by Wall Street speculators, deal makers and crooks.

And what happened? Not a single person was charged with a crime, no one went to jail – not one.

Today, our state’s pension fund is on the brink of disaster and one of nine South Carolinians’ financial future is in jeopardy. In 1999, the state pension plan was 99% funded; today the deficit of $24.1 billion is more than triple our state’s annual budget. At one point, of the 50 states we paid the most in fees to Wall Street money managers and had the lowest investment return – triggered by Wall Street speculators, deal makers and crooks.

And what happened? Not a single person was charged with a crime, no one went to jail – not one.

I’m not a lawyer so I can’t say what’s legal or not – but I’m a person with a little common sense and a huge sense of outrage. If these things, and countless others, are not against the law, then they ought to be and we should hold our elected officials – those who make the laws – accountable.

As outrage builds what happens?

Nationally, the people have just responded to these countless outrages with a roar. I’d argue it was a misguided roar – but they roared. They elected a President who makes things up, deceives people, says awful things about women and minorities, and just plain lies about as often as he tells the truth.

We elected him because he gave voice to our sense of frustration and outrage. In South Carolina, 1,143,611 or 54.9% of us roared – we voted for him.

But somehow, we don’t roar at the outrage of real ‘crimes’ – crimes against our most vulnerable – our children. Where is the outrage against the crime of poor schools that condemn our children to a dead-end job and too often a dead-end life? Remember, S.C. ranked 48th in opportunity.

Think about South Carolina as if it were a company. The Governor is Chairman of the Board, the Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller and other statewide elected officials are the Board of Directors. These folks set overall policy and are overall responsible. The Legislature is senior management; they make the rules and regulations and decide how the money is going to be allocated. And in terms of education, the local school boards, principals, teachers, etc. are the line workers. The students and their education, are the product.

And the product is the worst in the country.

We, the people of South Carolina, are the stockholders. We choose the Board and senior management – and we get to vote on their performance every two years.

We know their performance/product – 50th in education, 48th in opportunity, 45th overall, etc.

The question now is what will we do?

No one says a word. No one goes to jail.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We the voters, are the stockholders, judge and jury.

 

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston, is Co-founder of EnvisionSC and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Contact him at phil@philnoble.com and get his columns at www.PhilNoble.com

Living on Purpose: Darkness cannot overcome the light of God’s presence

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It’s amazing to think that without light, there is complete darkness. Thank God, every morning He directs the sun to rise which allows us to see without stumbling and having to feel our way around like a blind person. Spiritually speaking, we were all born into spiritual darkness and are only given our vision when we invite Christ to transform us into a new creation. Another exciting reality is that no amount of darkness can extinguish even the tiniest light, and confirms that as creator, His authority is greater than any other power. “And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness cannot overcome it!” John 1:5.

When we are children, it’s common to be afraid of the dark because our natural instinct does not trust the unknown. We imagine creatures that can see us and are waiting in the shadows to grab us. We laugh at how silly this sounds, but fear is associated with our fallen human nature and even as adults we are still faced with the temptation to be anxious and worried about what we cannot understand. It is only when our mind has been renewed by the Word and Spirit of the Lord that by faith we can trust Him and know there is nothing to fear as long as we are holding His hand. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1.

I remember as a child, probably no older than 6 or 7 years old, my parents planned an exciting adventure to Mammoth Cave. I recall that we followed a large group of people into the cave as the tour guide explained about the aragonites and stalagmites and so on. There was decent lighting as we moved deeper through the damp tunnels but still a little scary for a wide-eyed kid. Anyway, we finally came to a place that opened up into a huge room that is technically called a “chamber” that also included a steep drop-off that in my mind was nothing less than terrifying. People were saying it seemed to have no bottom and I was definitely not going to the edge to confirm these statements. Yes, there was a flimsy railing to prevent someone from falling into a delightful Chinese restaurant, but nonetheless I was not taking any chances. Suddenly, they intentionally turned out the lights and I am not exaggerating, you could not see your hand in front of your face. Of course, they were trying to make a point about total darkness and believe me I was completely convinced. It did not help that I had somehow drifted away from my parents just before the black-out and I remember during those few moments feeling a huge sense of relief as I had both arms wrapped around what I thought was my dad’s leg. When the lights came back on, I was calmly trying to adjust my vision when I looked up into the face of a complete stranger. Yes, in the chaos, I attached myself to some poor man and was embarrassed to say the least. When my frantic parents found me, the rest of the tour my mom was either holding my hand or had a firm grip on my jacket.

You know, thinking about how dark it is in this world without light, gives us a hint that eternity will be the same way. God’s Word proclaims that heaven will be filled with the brilliant light of His presence forever. Revelation chapter 21 and verse 23 says, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” and also in verse 25, we are promised there will never be darkness or night. John chapter 8 and verse 12 says, “Then spoke Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall never walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Dr. Holland is the author of, “A Lifestyle of Worship – living in the awareness of God’s presence.” Request a complimentary copy of his new CD, “Keeper of my soul” at: billyhollandministries.com

My Brain on NASCAR

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

I watched the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 with my hands covering my face, peeking though my fingers like a skittish teenage girl at a scary movie. When it comes to frightening incidents, unpredictable plot twists and surprise endings, Stephen King has nothing on NASCAR.

I was terrified.

The first and most obvious fear factor for me – and I suspect I’m not alone in this – was the return of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.

Many of you probably saw Marty Smith’s two-part interview with Junior on SportsCenter during the Daytona 500 weekend. Some of you may have even read Tommy Tomlinson’s fantastic profile of NASCAR’s most popular driver in the current issue of ESPN: The Magazine.

What we learned from both of these top-notch journalists, and from Earnhardt himself, was that his mental condition during his 18-race absence from NASCAR was far, far worse than most of us could have imagined.

He suffered from extreme concussion symptoms, things like eyes that continually vibrated in their sockets, and an inability to walk more than a step or two. Over the course of the interview, Junior told Tomlinson that he had experienced extreme depression, and fear, and constant worry over whether he was going to be good enough to resume his racing career.

Any driver would feel the same, but Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is not just any driver.

I truly love NASCAR, and desire to prop it up as best I can, but let’s face it; our sport is in some trouble.

Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have retired after long and illustrious careers, with seven championships between them.

Carl Edwards unexpectedly and voluntarily stepped away earlier this year, citing Earnhardt’s situation as one of the key factors in his decision.

At age 41, Jimmie Johnson is poised to make history in 2017 by potentially becoming the first NASCAR driver to win eight Cup Series championships. If accomplished, this feat may not be all that thrilling to legions of fans, since Johnson has to surpass Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. to get it done, but it would be impressive nonetheless.

Kurt and Kyle Busch are still going strong, with one Cup Series championship each, and after last week’s win in the Daytona 500, Kurt has some early momentum going. The Busch brothers, however, aren’t exactly beloved by the masses. Neither is 2012 Champion Brad Keselowski.

Denny Hamlin has displayed massive talent over the course of his career, but can’t seem to seal the deal. The same goes for Joey Logano, although I do feel that his combination of youth (he’s 26), talent, and aggressive driving style will find him hoisting a championship trophy in the not-too-distant future.

Kevin Harvick is always fun to watch (and listen to), but he’s 41 and if he’s going to win that second championship, he needs to get crackin’.

Chase Elliott looks like the face of NASCAR’s future, but by choosing to hightail it out of the racetrack following a “disappointing” 14th-place finish in the Daytona 500 after leading 39 laps, his PR skills might need a little work.

As the pole winner for the second consecutive year and NASCAR’s bright new hope, the press corps was definitely hoping to have some time with Elliott after the race. Unfortunately for drivers, media availability is part of the job, and disappointment can be as compelling as success.

NASCAR needs the perfect combination of personality, talent, pedigree and relatability in order to hold onto the fans who haven’t already tuned out, and there is only one candidate they care about: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It’s unrealistic and unfair, but his love of racing and his sense of responsibility to the sport seem to have led him to take what I – who am not a neuro-specialist of any kind – consider to be an undue health risk.

One more hard hit, folks, could prove catastrophic.

Is the joy we feel when watching him race, the deep personal connection fans feel to him, his family, his new wife Amy and the baby Earnhardts that are sure to come, worth more than his health? If the answer is yes, that’s just sad, and kind of medieval.

Like millions of my fellow NASCAR fans, I will cheer for Junior this year as he chases that elusive championship, and when he retires, I will miss him. I’ll be watching, but I have a feeling that my view will be an obstructed one, as no doubt I’ll continue to peek through my fingers and pray for safe outcomes for everyone concerned.

On a lighter note, my second concern for 2017 is learning the new, correct order of words in the name of NASCAR’s premier racing series before the end of the season. Honestly, it’s getting to the point where the series name resembles something out of James Joyce’s classic Ulysses, a novel which contains a sentence of over 4,000 words. I may have mentioned this before, but I think the way for us to go is to just call it Monster Cup. It’s shorter, cooler, and I can remember sequences of two.

To read “A Racing Mind,” Tommy Tomlinson’s interview with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., visit http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/18690840/dale-earnhardt-jr-returns-daytona-changed-man.

Noble Column: A Big Reform Idea People Love and Politicians Hate

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

It’s a given that South Carolina’s Statehouse politics is dysfunctional on a good day and thoroughly corrupt on most days.

There is a big reform idea that has surfaced that may be the single biggest thing we can do to reform this broken system – and it’s getting some traction.

The big reform idea is an independent reapportionment commission that would draw the lines for legislative districts.

OK, I can hear the yawns and the mumbles of “What kind of arcane policy wonk stuff is he talking about now?”

I get it … it sounds dull and obtuse but it’s really important. Bear with me on this one and you’ll see why it’s so important – promise.

Every ten years the federal government does a population census and this is used to re-draw the lines of the districts for members of the U.S. Congress, the state house and the state senate. People move around and so districts grow and shrink and the lines have to be re-drawn every ten years so that each district will have roughly the same number of people.

This is a big deal because how these districts are drawn determines (more or less) who gets elected and re-elected.

It works like this: the members of the legislature look at the district lines and based on past election returns and new census data they can pretty much figure out where the Democratic and Republican voters are. They then draw the districts so that they get a ‘safe district’ – safe Democratic or safe Republican.

And naturally, when the members of legislature get together and draw new districts they draw the lines that will make all their buddies, the incumbents, safe – i.e. they eliminate contested districts where they may be threatened. It’s a glorious collusion among politicians in an exercise of bi-partisan self-preservation. It has the effect of preserving the good old boy system of status quo politics.

These ultra-safe districts lead to incumbents being safe which leads to special interest corruption and a dysfunctional system i.e. what we have now.

Currently in South Carolina, upward or 80-90% of all districts are safe for either the Democratic or Republican incumbent. The result is that if the incumbent is safe, they really don’t have to pay much attention to the voters of their districts and they just pay attention to the lobbyist and special interest Political Action Committees or PACs in Columbia they rely on for campaign contributions.

Comparatively little money comes from people in the district back home. Many incumbents get 70-80% or more of all their contributions from these Statehouse political insiders – and not the people who vote for them. The incumbents then build up huge campaign war chests that in turn discourage potential candidates from running against them.

Thus, the golden rule of politics: he who pays the money makes the rules.

It’s all a vicious cycle. The result? See dysfunction and Statehouse corruption as per above and in the newspapers on a nearly daily basis.

The big reform idea that is floating around today would create an independent reapportionment commission that would take the power to draw the lines out of the hands of the legislature. This commission’s priority would not be to protect incumbents but to draw competitive districts.

So, you ask, why would any incumbent politician ever agree to this independent commission?

Well, it’s unclear as to exactly why, but it is happening. The same thing happened with term limits a few years back and today 15 states have some form of term limits. It seems that when things get really, really bad and people get really, really fed up with the abuse and corruption (like today), then real change is possible – at least in some states.

This may be what is happening now.

It seems that this reform idea is spreading all over the country, not just for reforming state legislatures but for reforming Congress as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger has just released a video about this on YouTube: Google “Why is Congress Worse than Herpes?” It’s pretty good.

There are several different ways that an independent commission can work. According to the National Council of State Legislatures: Thirteen states have a commission with primary responsibility for drawing a plan for state legislative districts. Five states have an advisory commission that may assist the legislature with drawing the district lines and five states have a backup commission that will make the decision if the legislature is unable to agree. Iowa has a different redistricting system which has the same effect as an independent commission.

In South Carolina today, the chairmen of both the state Democratic and Republican parties are on record as favoring an independent commission. The SC League of Women Voters has been doing great work on this for years – and it’s starting to pay off. Just this month, several bills are being discussed or introduced to amend our state constitution to create this type of independent commission and let the voters, and not the politicians, ultimately decide on the district lines.

And, a recent Winthrop Poll shows that the people clearly want this as 63% said that they supported the idea of an independent commission, 30% oppose and 7% don’t know or refused to answer.

There is a clear mandate from the people to ‘fix it’.

Will it happen? Who knows? We are still in early days on this issue. The U.S. Census is held every ten years and the next one will be in 2020 and the redistricting happens a year or two after the census is completed.

So, there is time to get this done.

Ask your legislator where they stand on this. And, don’t accept a mealy-mouth politician’s answer. It’s like asking someone if they have been faithful to their spouse – there are only two answers: ‘yes’ and everything else.

This really is a big deal.

If we can change the way legislators are elected – and get people who are responsive to us, the voters, and not the corrupt special interest that they listen to now – then maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a shot at fixing our state’s broken and corrupt politics that is holding us back.

While I breathe, I hope.

Phil Noble is from Charleston where he runs a technology firm. He is Co-founder of EnvisionSC and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Reach him at phil@philnoble.com and get his columns at www.PhilNoble.com

Living on Purpose: Protecting our conscience from the little foxes

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Life has its ups and downs and no one is exempt from struggling every now and then. We’ve heard that how we react to situations is a key to how much peace we can maintain and I certainly believe this is a nugget of wisdom. For example, when someone disrespects us, it is common to allow insult to develop an infection. However, these are times within our journey of learning, to pray and ask God to help us look past our pain and direct our focus and trust on Him. I admit, this is very hard to do because when we are wounded and trying to deal with damaged emotions, it seems we cannot think of anything else other than how we feel. Nonetheless, it’s possible to take these times of discouragement and not only use them as a ladder to help us climb out of our pit of sadness, but to actually rise to a higher level of peace and contentment.

In the Song of Solomon chapter two, the Shulamite women and the king are in love and their dialogue is a beautiful expression of romance. In verse 15, she mentions about how the little foxes damage the grape vines by chewing on them and eventually hinders the ability to make wine. To make a long story short, the foxes represent frustrations and aggravations while the vines are symbolic of our relationships especially with God. She is trying to warn her future husband the importance of keeping their emotions in check by being aware of negative forces that will attempt to impede their marriage. This is not only true within the home, but in all relationships. Importantly, the story reminds us that the foxes may be small but many times it is the little things that cause huge consequences. When others take advantage of us and fail to appreciate what we do, instead of wasting our emotional energy pouting and having a negative attitude, we can be much more effective by taking these burdens to the Lord in prayer.

We have become used to living in an age of instant gratification and this can unfortunately bleed over into our spiritual thinking. We have a tendency to say a prayer and then expect immediate results and when we do not have an answer by the end of the day, we move on to something else. Let us consider, this is not always how the spiritual realm works. Have you ever experienced a stressful trial and as you were searching for answers it seemed that God was silent? Maybe He was quiet for His own reasons and then it could be that we were not listening. In order to hear His still small voice, we need to be very close to Him. As believers, we are not to approach God and demand that He respond or else. Heaven is not a vending machine where we put in our quarters and our problems are fixed. He is our heavenly Father that is completely aware of our situation and within His plan to help us, is for us to have patience and submit to His will. Knowing Him is all about trusting Him even when it seems that no one else cares or understands.

In the book of Ephesians, we are given the explanation about our spiritual armor and if we notice, the helmet and breastplate is given to protect our mind and heart from the dangerous arrows of words. The enemy of our soul loves to use words against us because he knows how much damage they can inflict. When we are confronted with negative circumstances, we are tempted to absorb this agony within our soul, which in turn triggers our response mechanism to unleash a flood of pessimistic reactions. Unfortunately, anger, sadness and low self-esteem have literally ruined many peoples lives. Whatever emotional pain you are going through today, realize that God wants the best for you. Guard and protect your conscience from the irritating distractions of hurtful words and embrace the absolute truth of His promises. He loves and respects you and will never fail to take care of you.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.