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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

June 7, 2012 - Tactics

By Scott Harrup

During “buddy time” with Austin recently, he and I watched a 10-minute YouTube segment of the Modern Marvels episode “The Guns of the Civil War.” A key premise of the documentary: Civil War weapons technology out-paced Civil War battlefield tactics.

Officers on both sides of the conflict applied field strategies from the Napoleonic era (perhaps best summed up as the Revolutionary War “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” mindset). Attacking forces advanced en masse against the enemy. Those defending a position created as much firepower as possible. Sheer numbers were the determining strategy for victory.

Compared to today’s automatic weapons, Civil War firepower was primitive. Most soldiers used muzzle-loading Springfield rifles that could only be fired about three times in a minute. But a key element from the Napoleonic era — the effective range of the weapons used — had changed radically and turned the older tactic into a death trap.

Muskets of previous generations fired lead balls through smooth-bore barrels. Rifles had spiral grooves inside the barrel that sent conical minié balls spinning toward targets with greater accuracy at much greater range. Where a musket maintained accuracy for about the length of a football field, a rifle could triple that distance.

If your musket-minded commanding officer ordered you and your fellow soldiers to march shoulder to shoulder across an open field toward an enemy equipped with rifles, you had better write your last letter home. When I was 11, Doug Bast, my dad’s cousin, took our family on a tour of his museum in Boonsboro, Md. I’ll never forget one display — the skeletal limb of a Civil War soldier with a minié ball splitting one of the bones.

This morning’s little Civil War meditation got me to thinking about how today’s technology imperfectly meshes with our life-negotiating tactics. For example, a friend and I recently discussed the number of businesses that interact with consumers through Facebook. My friend refuses to set up a Facebook page, and it inconveniences him when he can’t take advantage of Facebook-based deals. We both mused how today’s Facebook interface mimics the “novel” Internet presence of the 1990s. It’s just one more trend in an ever-evolving communications paradigm.

I view e-books somewhat like my friend views Facebook. My Kindle, purchased a few years ago, sits on a low, dark shelf, its batteries almost perpetually drained, about 100 book files gathering virtual dust. Perhaps to my technological detriment, I still find more than 99 percent of my reading among my shelves of “real” books.

Most time-bound idiosyncracies amount to so much inconvenience, but some techno-stasis merits concern. If I remain blind to my children’s evolving world, I might fail to protect them from new dangers. Today’s parent must deal with more than the standard mass media barrage. How might tweets from a sports hero, young actor or pop music icon create a negative influence? Which web sites and online games get passed among mobile devices on 21st-century playgrounds?

The church world faces a similar challenge. How can pastors and small group leaders remain relevant while faithfully communicating a timeless gospel? Which ministry tools du jour hold genuine merit, and which represent fads that drain spiritual life rather than promote revival?

It might seem insane that Union and Confederate soldiers marched across battlefields straight into enemy fire. But they were victims of a behind-the-times leadership model. This generation needs to be able to trust parents, pastors, teachers, and any other mentors not to make the same mistake.

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (



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