A Reflection on Greatness -- John R Rice

Today marks 25 years since Dr. John R. Rice left this life for the next. That he once had a huge impact on the religious landscape of America is beyond dispute; the current scope of that legacy however, might well be called into question. To reveal my biases at the beginning, I grew up at The Sword of the Lord, and regard Dr. Rice as a great man. But while my view may be slightly colored, perhaps the “insider” look will make up for it.

The man I remember was physically imposing. Though he was in his seventies by the time I was old enough to really know him, he still rode his horses, bowled, and played tennis with his staff. (My father once told me they never beat him on company time!) Into his eighties he continued to travel the country and preach weekly, along with editing (personally and very hands on) a weekly paper.He was, to be simplistic, a man driven by the burden of evangelism.

In his final column for The Sword, published because of production deadlines after he had already lapsed into a coma, he talked of envisioning himself once again preaching before large audiences in city-wide evangelistic efforts, with scores of people responding to the Gospel invitation. His tract “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” with its distinctive pink pages traveled around the world, with more than 60 million copies printed in numerous languages.

I well remember a few years before he died hearing him preach at Forest Hills in Atlanta. We had driven down from Murfreesboro to be there for the service. In what was then a bustling church, I wasn’t able to find my parents after Sunday School and ended up sitting alone toward the back of the auditorium. After he preached, Dr. Rice was making his way out of the church, and stopped where I was sitting. His eyes weren’t what they once had been, and he didn’t recognize me–but he did stop to ask if I knew for sure I was on my way to Heaven.

He often preached at Franklin Road Baptist Church (where he practiced storehouse tithing, even though he didn’t believe it was a Bible doctrine). The thing that struck me most about his sermons was that they were completely filled with the Word of God. I would sometimes count during the message as he quoted 30 or 40 verses from memory. One preacher said of Dr. Rice, “You may not agree with him, but he always comes armed with the Bible.”

One other personal note; he was a man who lived a joyful, intense life. I do not think it was possible for him to do anything that wasn’t whole-hearted. Whether it was watching his beloved Dallas Cowboys (and telling them what play they should have run) composing a new song on the piano in his office, or preaching a sermon, everything he did was marked with enthusiasm and zeal to complete the task...and a certain readiness, almost impatience, to be on to the next one.

Dr. Rice had a strong influence in his day. As one of the few surviving men who had actually known the early leaders of the Fundamentalists, he bridged the gap between old and new. He spoke to a broad audience (the circulation of The Sword reached over 300,000 weekly in the 70s) and was widely respected, even by most of those who did not agree with him completely on issues.

The most negative thing I have to say about his work was, I think done with the best of intentions. In his desire to see churches focus on evangelism, he began promoting in the pages of The Sword churches who baptized 200 converts a year and publishing the annual list of the largest churches in America. The focus for some however shifted from reaching people to reaching numbers, and an “arms race” mentality entered into many leading fundamental churches. Contests between churches, beginning ministries with a goal toward the bottom line of numbers, and adopting pragmatic and even questionable methods to reach a crowd became the norm. Thousands of goldfish gave their lives to increase Sunday School attendance, and millions of pieces of bubble gum and candy were passed out to children to “encourage” them to get on the bus. The end became the justification for almost any means imaginable. Ironically the seeker-sensitive churches of today with their watered down messages and arguably worldly entertainment focus (which he would not have approved) have their philosophical roots in the same soil.

Despite his very public and painful split with Billy Graham in the 50s and the later one with Bob Jones University in the 70s, Dr. Rice remained personally committed to prayer for those with whom he had disagreed. In his rather pointed sermon “Be a Fundamentalist but not a Nut” he made the case for a reasoned approach to others and issues. And he was pained by the broken friendships that resulted from his stands. During the falling out with Dr. Jones, Jr., one of Dr. Rice’s best-loved preacher friends, Dr. Tom Malone, stopped speaking at Sword conferences and resigned from the board. For Dr. Rice’s 85th birthday, just days before he died, Dr. Malone flew in to be present. It was without doubt the best gift he received. For the rest of the day, he told everyone he met, “Dr. Malone came for my birthday ”

And as was the case with the dispute between Paul and Barnabas, God uses even our falling out to further His work. The disagreement with Bob Jones led directly to the creation of the National Sword Conferences on Revival and Soul Winning, beginning in 1974 in Indianapolis. Thousands crowded into the civic center there to hear what by today’s standards would be an impossibly diverse lineup of speakers.

That leads me to my final point. The greatest legacy of Dr. Rice (aside from the men he inspired to enter the ministry) was the founding of The Sword of the Lord. Twenty five years after he left it, the paper remains a voice, but for some very different points of view. Evangelism is still an emphasis, but Dr. Rice’s open invitation to fundamentalists across denominational lines to work together has been replaced by an insistence on Independent Baptist only–to go along with a promotion of the King James only position that he decried repeatedly in his later years. With a circulation now a quarter of what it was during his lifetime, the paper he founded reaches far fewer people than it once did.

Like David, John R. Rice served his generation and his Lord to the best of his ability, and then fell asleep. His influence remains; his wisdom and balance are greatly missed. It is doubtful that fundamentalism will ever have another leader of such unquestioned stature.


Close but No Kewpie Doll

The fantasy football season came to an end last night with an excruciatingly close three point loss in the championship game. I scored 15 points more than my highest score for the year and nearly 30 points above my season average, so I don't have much to complain about. Well, I do, but I don't have much legitimate grounds to!

Fantasy football is an odd sort of thing. It reminds me of what some comedian said about dog shows "It might be interesting if the dogs actually had some idea of what was going on!" So the NFL proceeds in blissful ignorance--otherwise, Corey Dillon would have stayed in for one more drive (or perhaps run for an extra TD rather than some linebacker who isn't on anyone's team catching two)...and the Colts would have at least have made some kind of serious effort to stop Shaun Alexander from running wild...and Carson Palmer wouldn't have thrown those two interceptions...and and and (I don't sound bitter do I?)...

Anyhow, it was a lot of fun, and I made several new friends, and I'm looking forward to next year.

And hey, I'm a Braves fan, so a loss in the postseason is hardly a new experience!


Jesus and the Lone Ranger

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (II Cor. 9:15)

When I was eight years old, there was only one present in the world that mattered to me. I wanted the Lone Ranger set--hat, mask, cap guns, and gunbelt complete with "silver" bullets. My dad had the original nine Lone Ranger books written by Fran Striker, who created the character for radio, and we had listened to many tapes of the old radio program. The Lone Ranger was my hero. (By the way, the definition of an intellectual is a person who hears the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger!)

That Christmas morning, we got up, ate breakfast (quickly), quoted the Christmas story from Luke 2 (as quickly as we could get away with) and then Mom (finally) began passing out presents. I tore open the usual collection of puzzles, books, games and socks without finding what I really wanted. I could see the pile of presents diminishing, and from scanning the size of those remaining, it became clear to me that I wasn't going to be getting the coveted gift. None of the other things I had received made a dent in my disappointment.

But after all the gifts were opened, my dad took me up into the attic and handed me one more---and my day was made! It was the one gift, the Lone Ranger set, that was everything I had wanted. I immediately put it on and went outside to play. There were no words to describe the way I felt.

That's sort of the position Paul was in (on a much different scale) when it came to describing the gift of God's Son--he called it unspeakable...indescribably wonderful, beyond our ability to put into words.

The Lone Ranger set is long gone. The elastic on the mask broke (and was re-stapled several times.) The hammer on one of the caps guns broke. The "silver" bullets fell out of the gunbelt. I never did find out what happened to the hat. "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one!


Christmas Traditions (Part 3)

We always open one present on Christmas Eve...and I like that. (Never have been much for that patience stuff.) It's a fun way to stretch out the presents and get things going a little sooner. I highly recommend it.

My favorite Christmas carol is "What Child Is This?" hands down. I don't think I've ever heard a bad arrangement of it. And the best Christmas music recording ever made is "What if Mozart Wrote 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'" by the Hampton String Quartet. Classical twist on the familiar songs and carols that never gets old.

Brenda's white chocolate dipped ginger snaps are the best cookies in the world. If you've never had them, let me express my pity for your loss.


NSA surveillance -- A Political Evaluation

The firestorm over the revelation that the President had authorized the NSA to monitor conversations with known terrorists without first seeking a warrant is going to continue to rage for the near future. Although the legal issues are not clear-cut, there is plenty of evidence going all the way back to President Carter (the well known right wing extremist) that this isn't new.

Regardless of the legal issues, I want to consider this revelation from a purely political viewpoint. The Democrats are once again placing all their bets on a lame horse that just started coughing at the gate. Arguing that President Bush is too serious about defending us from terrorists and is pushing for tools to do that job better is a loser. Unless the Democrats are somehow convinced that the terrorist threat has completely dissipated...and that a majority of people in the country think so too...they're handing the President a very large stick with which to beat them. And I suspect that since Karl Rove appears to be back on his game, that's exactly how this is going to play out. The Democrats will insist on hearing, the President will say "Please don't throw me in the briar patch" and the nation will see yet again why we have the right leader for the war on terror.

Skipping Christmas (Part 2)

A couple of interesting comments to yesterday's post debating the topic of selfishness. Is it selfish to have a Sunday services? Asking too much of your leaders and/or your people? Or is it selfish not to go to church on Christmas Day?

On the one hand, I think Christians ought to extend a little courtesy to each other. If someone feels that God is leading them to go in a certain direction, we should give them some leeway. There's way too much judging and fighting over things that aren't really worthy of debate, let alone all out war.

But on the other hand, there are definite trends in Christianity today that are of great concern to me...and some things that are worthy of defending...things that merit "contending for the faith." I'm really concerned that the consumer-focused mentality has led churches to sacrifice some of the things that we really can't afford to do without. If we keep giving in on point after point, there will soon be no distinction left. I believe unsaved people who come to church should be welcome, but if the message and the music and the length and the format and everything else in the service is trimmed so as to not offend them, we're going to end up (if we haven't already) with a lowest common denominator mush that bears little resemblance to Bible Christianity.

Our church is having services Christmas Eve (3) and Christmas Day (1)--same service each time. We have made the decision to go on Sunday morning. I don't think that makes us any better or more spiritual than the people who choose to go on Saturday. But I have to tell you that I'm glad the church is allowing us the option. I'd be disappointed if they didn't have Sunday services.


Skipping Christmas

Maybe you've seen the uproar over the decision by a number of large churches not to hold services on Sunday because it's Christmas day. I think that's a very poor decision, but as usual, my buddy Dan Burrell said it much better:

Multiple people sent me the press releases on the “mega-churches” that decided en masse to cancel Sunday services on Christmas day and wondered what I thought of it. As you might expect, I have several thoughts. First, I think it is shockingly absurd. Yes! Let’s have a celebration commemorating the birth of our Savior! But let’s not let it interfere with really important things like watching our kids open a vulgar amount of mindless toys and then stuffing ourselves silly before collapsing on the couch to watch the Seinfeld Series DVD’s we got for Christmas. IMHO, I think this is just fairly typical of what has made this generation’s church slovenly ineffective. We want a faith that costs us little – therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that it accomplishes little. We can gussy it up by having Christmas Eve services or designating the day as a "celebration of family", etc…, but in the end, we KNOW what the real motivation was. Selfishness. Would it have been too difficult to have a one-hour celebration of Christmas sometime during the day that is actually set aside to commemorate the birth of Christ? I also find disturbing, the report that the leadership teams of a conglomeration of mega-churches apparently dialogued privately before making the decision as a group. So, let’s get this right, trendy churches are now setting trends for what should be embraced by the rest of us, right? Nah, that’s why I’m an “Independent” Baptist.


First Day of Winter

Just wanted to point out to all of you folks shivering today that we're expecting a high of 75 degrees here in Tucson. Y'all come on by and see us...if you can get out of your driveways and such.

(Have to enjoy it while we can...the 100s will be back all too soon!)


Christmas Traditions (Part 2)

It isn't really Christmas unless you watch Holiday Inn. This dated (black and white), gleefully politically incorrect, and almost completely unbelievable story is nevertheless one of the touchpoints of the season--even though it has almost nothing to do with Christmas. Best known for introducing the Irving Berlin classic "White Christmas" performed by Bing Crosby, it serves as a reminder of a much different time...and yet who wouldn't want to watch Fred Astaire and Bing sing and dance and fight over girls?

It also isn't really Christmas unless you go out and look at lights, and then come home and drink hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. (Living in Arizona may require the use of air conditioning for that last part.) People who don't decorate for Christmas are missing out.

And for what it's worth, the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is vastly superior to the Jim Carrey live one.


Hail to the Chief

The conventional wisdom has always been the President Bush doesn't think well on his feet. His sometimes awkward performances in press conferences and debates has reinforced this image. But when he's on with his A-game...

He absolutely spanked the national press corps this morning. Clearly laying out the rationale for his actions to defend this nation, he rejected loaded questions, calling the reporters on their slanted language. Rather than hesitantly defending himself, he went on the offensive, boldly and unapologetically stating his case.

Best line of the day (on the NSA surveillance leak) --- "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."


A Question for Contemporary Churches

Just wondering...

If you've tossed hymns for more modern music, to appeal to the modern audience, how come you still sing Christmas carols? After all, the words are as (or even more) arachic as those you find in hymns. And while the carols may be a little more culturally familiar than hymns, the growing rise of secularism is eroding even that.

I am a conservative in many ways, not the least of which is that I believe many of the good things of the past should be preserved and brought forward into the future. The desire for "relevance" has, in my opinion, driven many people off the rails into territory so uncharted that they may never return whence they came. So maybe, just maybe, if old songs are good enough for four Sundays a year, they might also work for the other 48?

In Words, as Fashions, the same Rule will hold;
Alike Fantastick, if too New, or Old;
Be not the first by whom the New are try’d,
Nor yet the last to lay the Old aside.

Alexander Pope -- "An Essay on Criticism"


Christmas Traditions

With our daughter home from college for the Christmas (not winter, holiday, or semester!) break, we're rekindling some of our favorite old traditions...

We already started with the first one when she was home at Thanksgiving--we made Christmas cookies. Now we're getting the season into full swing. As I was thinking this morning, I reflected on the value of family traditions. There's something very powerful and comforting about knowing what's going to happen.

When I was growing up, we quoted the Christmas story from Luke 2 before we opened our presents. (We do that in my family too, although I find I need to have a Bible handy for help by the time I get down to verse 17 or 18--getting old I guess!) When you're eight years old, and the only thing standing between you and your presents is 20 verses from the King James Version, you try to talk as fast as you possibly can...and you sure don't appreciate your younger siblings slowing you down! But without memories like that, Christmas just wouldn't be the same.

So as time permits (there is a much more pressing priority at the moment!) I'll try to share a few more of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions. It's part of what makes this holiday so special.


Maybe He Was Brainwashed

Mitt Romney has announced he will not run for re-election as governor of Massachusetts, leading to increased belief that he will run for President in 2008. But by choosing to give up his office, he is making a rather large mistake if indeed he wants to occupy the Oval Office.

The financial resources available to a sitting governor are enormous, and given the crowded field that is expected for the Republican primary in 08, cash is going to be a crucial determinant in being able to stay in the game. The competition for the same dollars from the same donors is going to be fierce--and Romney has just given away his best fundraising tool.

The national spotlight is going to be divided into very small pieces as well. Competing for media attention (especially with the likes of McCain and Rudy) is going to be another crucial test of a candidate's viability. Again Romney has forfeited his greatest asset by giving up his elected office.

The only way this makes sense at all is Romney has internal polls showing he can't win re-election. Even if his polling shows him significantly behind, this is a mistake. Winning a second term in deep indigo blue Massachusetts would be a powerful talking point headed into the 08 campaign season.

Romney's father (governor of Michigan) saw his campaign in 1968 collapse when he said he had "been brainwashed" on a visit to Vietnam regarding the war there...maybe it's hereditary!


Angels with Dirty Faces

Watching the coverage of the execution of Tookie Williams in California, I couldn't help but think of the 1938 Warner Brothers classic Angels with Dirty Faces. Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Cagney play childhood friends who grow up on different sides of the law. Cagney's gangster Rocky Sullivan is an idol to the boys of the neighborhood, much to the dismay of O'Brien's priest. When Cagney is about to be executed for murdering his double-crossing mob pals (including Humphrey Bogart as a crooked lawyer), O'Brien pleads with him to act like he's scared so the kids who look up to him will be turned from a life of crime. Cagney complies, and ROCKY DIES A YELLOW COWARD scream the newspaper headlines...and the "Dead End" gang learns a lesson.

Today, of course, Hollywood stars wouldn't be caught dead anywhere near such a message. Instead they're pressuring the governor and the legal system to let a cold-blooded killer off. After all, he's "reformed." Never mind that he refused to admit his guilt--he's changed, you see, and that makes all the difference. The fatuous Mike Ferrell even said, "I think the Tookie Williams people want to kill is already dead...and Tookie Williams killed him."

No, Mike, Tookie Williams killed four innocent people. And the fact that you and your rich actor buddies are standing up for him rather than the victims is pretty pathetic. It may also (at least partially) help explain why movie attendance has dropped so dramatically in recent years. Once upon a time, movies reflected American values rather than trying to destroy and subvert them. Of course Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand and the rest of the loonies in Tinseltown have every right to their opinions. But there's a vast untapped market, which shows up in huge numbers for things like The Passion or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, that keeps voting with their feet...and their money...against liberal propaganda masquerading as entertainment.

Clooney's paean to crusading journalists, Good Night, and Good Luck, has garnered a measly 21 million bucks in ten weeks--less than a third of what LWW took in on its opening weekend. His latest anti-American diatribe, Syriana (which will be out on video in about three months), finished second for the week with less than 15% of Aslan's take. Keep making junk people don't want to see, and guess what? They won't go see it.

Is it too much to ask for a movie in which Americans are the good guys? Where a man who loves and is faithful to his wife is the hero? Where a family sticks together (without the parents being portrayed as bumbling idiots) to overcome their problems? Where a gangster begs for mercy on his way to be executed to discourage kids from following his lifestyle? Maybe it is, but the studio who made such fare would laugh all the way to the bank.


al-Zawahri Auditions for Role as Democratic Spokesman

Dateline some cave in Pakistan: Al Qaeda's number two man, apparently channeling Howard Dean, delivered a doleful taped message to the world over the weekend. "As long as this malignant illness continues to survive within us, there is no hope for victory and there can only be more defeats, tragedies, disasters and betrayals," al-Zawahri said.

The correlation between the language the Democrats use to describe the war situation and that used by our terrorist adversaries is unmistakable. The problem is, of course, that they can't both be right. Either we're winning or we aren't. The reality is that we are winning. Iraq is preparing to hold its third free election this week. Women are voting in Saudi Arabian elections...and in Kuwait. The Syrian thugs were kicked out of Lebanon. Lybia abandoned its nuclear weapons program (the one the CIA didn't know anything about). The list goes on and on.

al-Zawahri is trying to rally the troops, but it's clear from both his own words and from world events that things aren't going his way. The good news (for him at least) is that even if his cause is collapsing around his head, if he keeps up this defeatist talk, he can always get a job as a spokesman for the Democratic Party. Now if he could just learn to say "YEARGH!"


The Air Marshal Shooting

A few quick thoughts on yesterday's shooting in Miami by the federal air marshals: 1) It's a tragedy for a man to die because he (apparently) refused/forgot/didn't take his medication, but the responsibility rests on him (and/or his wife and other caregivers). 2) The marshals did the right thing. Given the nature of our enemies, no threat can be taken lightly. 3) There will be some (idiots) who will critique and condemn the air marshals, regardless. That's just the country we live in today. 4) What are the odds that the head air marshal in Miami is named Bauer?

And 5) A very potent message went out to the terrorists yesterday. Mess with an American plane, and you'll probably end up dead. While the government is understandably reluctant to discuss actual numbers, the odds are that your next long flight, especially a cross country or international one, will be guarded by armed marshals who have passed the most stringent shooting tests (even tougher than the Secret Service) of any government agents. These men (and women) are as much on the front lines of the war on terror as any member of the Armed Forces serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm glad they're there.


Remember Pearl Harbor

64 years ago today, the Japanese drug America, kicking and screaming in protest, into World War II by attacking Pearl Harbor. Despite the protestations of the "America Firsters" the oceans weren't big enough to protect us from the real world. To our shock and sorrow, we learned that lesson then...to our shame, we've had to learn it again and again, most recently on 9/11.

The rhetoric of withdrawal and isolation sounds appealing, but it ignores the reality of the modern day world. There are no longer any front lines, safe havens or ways to avoid those who wish to kill us. The fanatical Islamists cannot be negotiatied with, appeased, bought off, or bargained with. We cannot bring them to the table to sign a peace treaty. By their own choice, the only way they can be stopped is permanently. If we insist on forgetting this fact (again), they will certainly remind us (again). But the cost of such folly is too high.

How many times will we have to relearn the lesson of Pearl Harbor? As many times as we forget it.


Required Reading

I don't remember the last time I agreed with anything I read in The New Republic, (although it is frequently entertaining) let alone the last time I found myself saying something like this. Every American should be required to read this article! (And the Nancy Pelosis and Barbara Boxers of this world should be required to read it twice.) Here's just a taste but I strongly urge you to read the whole article (free registration required):

What would have happened had the second Iraq war turned out like the first, as the White House apparently expected? Saddam would have been toppled, the Iraqi people would have celebrated, order would have been restored quickly, followed by a speedy exit for British and American troops. Then what? Maybe the rule of Iran-style Shia mullahs, perhaps another brutal Sunni autocrat to take the place of the last one, possibly an endless civil war between the two. Today, there is a real chance of a vastly better result--precisely because the insurgency survived, because it wasn't quickly defeated. Sunni intransigence needed to be crushed slowly; a quick in-and-out war was not enough to kill the dream of forever tyrannizing Iraqi Kurds and Shia. More important, thousands of senseless murders over the past 32 months have taught Iraqis--Sunni, Shia, and Kurd alike--just how vicious Zarqawi and his allies are. That lesson will have very useful consequences for the long-term health of the region.


Another Phony "Milestone"

The execution of Kenneth Boyd by the state of North Carolina today was in most respects unremarkable. There is no serious dispute about his guilt in the murders of his estranged wife and her father (in front of their sons) 17 years ago. Yet the (belated) carrying out of this particular death sentence has been major news. Why? Because of the cunning of the opponents of the death penalty and their willing participation of their accomplices in the liberal media.

Boyd is the 1000th person executed since the Supreme Court again allowed them in 1976. (Given that the Constitution specifically authorizes capital punishment, unlike say abortion, it is more than a little ironic that the Court charged with interpreting and enforcing that Constitution ruled capital punishment unconstitutional.) This is an utterly meaningless statistic. Yet just as the anti-war types used the 2000th death in Iraq a few weeks back, this non-event is being used to rally people to a cause.

There is no difference between Boyd's execution and the others carried out last week or those that will (hopefully) be carried out next week....yes "Tookie" Williams, I'm talking about you. It does not mark a "sad milestone" or a "moment to reflect" or a "time to change the law." What it does is bring to an end the wait of a family for justice for their murdered loved ones. The fact that it takes 17 years to execute a man who makes no claim of innocence should forever shut the mouths of those who say the death penalty does not deter crime. A closer correlation and shorter time frame between crime and punishment would be needed to make such a determination.

Finally, a word for those who worry about executing the innocent. DNA testing should be automatic in any case where it could be used. Every death sentence should be automatically appealed and/or reviewed, preferably by an independent judicial board of at least three members. That review should include whether the accused received competent counsel, whether the jury selection process meets the standards of civilized society, and whether the judge properly performed his job. Three days after those questions have been answered satisfactorily, the sentence should be carried out.


A Human Face on Tragedy

One of my fellow Crosley Blog of the Week winners, Ben at Hammerswing75 , has a very personal connection to one of the four Westerners kidnapped this week in Iraq by the terrorists. Here is his first post, detailing his relationship with Mr. Kember, but you should keep scrolling up through his site for updates. It's a great reminder that every face we see on the news represents and impacts family, friends and community. "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."

From what I've read and heard, I think I would disagree with Mr. Kember something in excess of 99% of the time. Yet though I find his pacifism unconvincing and his politics very misguided, I will pray for his safe return/release to his family and loved ones. I think all of us can agree on that.