Todd Starnes: My Hero






Who’s your hero?

In the days of my youth, it was not just Superman, but also Flash Gordon  and even Mighty Mouse. Mmm, okay. Maybe not Mighty Mouse, but I did like the Mighty Mouse cartoons. Oh, and of course there was Zorro, played on TV by Guy Williams. I only missed seeing one episode, and that was while we were traveling. I was SO upset…

But even as a kid I knew those characters weren’t real, although they often performed heroic deeds.

I suddenly grew up. Forgot those childish heroes. But whose courage inspired me then? Who did I want to be like?

Politicians? Oh, like Richard Nixon? I don’t think so. Business leaders? I couldn’t name one that impressed me as being true hero material. Same for sports figures. Not that I knew anything about any of them, as disinterested as I was in sports. Movie stars? Mighty Mouse was more worthy of admiration than many of them.

That was the Vietnam era of American history, and I have no doubt that many heroic Americans fought in that struggle to protect South Vietnam from communist North Vietnam. But because the war was unpopular and far too many Americans vilified the military who gave up everything to do what their country called on them to do, I didn’t know of specific heroes. (I wasn’t fond of the Vietnam war, but at least I didn’t hold our military responsible or treat them badly.)

As a Christian, it would make sense that I would have viewed someone like Dr. Billy Graham as a hero of sorts. I admired (and still admire) him greatly, but I’m not sure I would describe his accomplishments as heroic. And he would be the first to insist that they were God’s accomplishments.

I’m in the same dilemma today. It seems like too many people are just going their own way, doing their own thing, with too few being willing to go the extra mile to do something dangerously worthwhile. Everything that was true of the Vietnam era is even more true today. It’s no wonder American is, as the cliche goes, “going to hell in a hand-basket.”

Yet perhaps I do have a few heroes. People who stand up for what’s right without counting the cost. People who still believe in the Bible or at least in biblical principles. People who believe in the Constitution. People who hold toes to the fire of those who have strayed so far from everything that makes–or used to make–America the melting pot of the world rather than a society that is fragmented culturally, ethnically, religiously, politically, and philosophically. Even linguistically. That list could go on and on and on.

I could probably name a number of conservatives who stand up for what’s right without fear of retribution, but Todd Starnes is the person I most think of as my hero. And the fact that he would probably be very surprised to know that and begin listing dozens of other people he thinks worthier of my admiration is part of what makes me feel that way.

I’ve known Todd ever so slightly through writers conferences we’ve both attended–see the pictures above–and his table in the dining hall has always been full of admirers. After all, it’s not every conference that sports a popular Fox News commentator as one of it keynote speakers, especially one who recorded one of his commentaries with us as his live audience.

But that doesn’t make Todd heroic. What does is the fact that he doesn’t mince words in reporting incidents that the other networks wouldn’t even touch. Especially concerning people whose rights have been trampled on in the name of political correctness.

Todd has received death threats, but he continues to share the truth. People turn to him because he’s proven trustworthy under all circumstances. He’s articulate, and he gets to the heart of the matter.

If I define a hero as someone I want to be like because of those characteristics, then I have no choice but to put Todd Starnes at the top of my list .

What about you? Who’s your hero these days? And why? How about sharing a comment?


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Best regards,

Old Enough to Ask for Help Occasionally?

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When I was younger, I wasn’t very good at asking for help. I remember being ill while working at a summer job out-of-state (I was just into my first year or two of teaching). My coworkers stopped by my dorm room each morning to see whether I would make it to work that day. This went on for four or five days.

Forget work. I wasn’t even strong enough to make it to the dining room to eat.

I needed to go to the infirmary, but I wasn’t up to walking and wouldn’t have felt safe driving. I kept waiting for my coworkers to ask if they could do anything for me. I would gladly have told them I needed a ride to the infirmary.

But they didn’t offer, and I was too proud to ask. Too proud and too sick.

Fortunately, the bug worked its way out of my system eventually, and I woke up one morning feeling stronger—and hungry for the first time in days. I made it to the dining hall with ease.

I could tell you other stories about times as an adult when I needed help, but—for one reason or another—refused to ask for it.

Flash forward to this week. I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. The faculty was tremendous, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends I only see at the BRMCWC.

I had an inspired thought. Something I hadn’t planned to do until recently. But it would require asking for help. And from someone VERY well known—at least to Fox News fans.

I’d met Fox commentator Todd Starnes at previous conferences. I knew his blog has a tremendous following, and he was in the midst of a promotional book tour for his newest book, God Less America. Talk about a busy man…

But what did I have to lose?

I asked if he would consider writing a foreword for the upcoming release of my novel, The Devil & Pastor Gus. He looked over my one-sheet summary and—I still can’t believe it!—said he would be honored.

That’s the kind of stuff Cloud Nine is made out of.

Several days later I turned around to see who the instructor kept addressing as Jane. She looked awfully familiar, but it took me till the end of class to be positive that she was Jane Herlong. Jane is not just a writer, but a wonderful singer, a brilliant women’s speaker, and a hilarious comedienne. Oh, and did I mention she’s also a former Miss South Carolina?

We’d met when she was on the faculty several years earlier. I’d sung some of my original songs for her and she did a duet with me. All for fun, of course. Not for the conference itself. And she emailed me shortly afterwards to thank me for the privilege of letting her sing with me. Can you imagine? She’s the professional singer, not me.

Practically as soon as I realized the familiar lady in the back of the room was Jane Herlong, the thought came to mind—I’m assuming it was divine inspiration—to ask if she’d be willing to write the foreword for another book that’s pending publication, Impractically Yours.

She didn’t even have to think about it. She would be honored to help me that way.

I emailed her a copy, and she started reading it almost immediately. Today I received a message that she LOVES it!

Lord, thank You for helping me reach the point in my life where I’m willing to take a chance and ask other people for help—sometimes, at least. But I know You’re still the ultimate source of all the help I’ll ever need, and I praise You for that.

I’ll let you decide which of the pictures at the top of this post is of me with Todd and which one is with Jane.


Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”–check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,