Monday, September 11, 2023

Reasoning for Life -- 3. Death of Reason

You are being unreasonable!

Have you lost your sense of reason?!

Very likely, we’ve all heard expressions like these.  Maybe they were directed at us.  And, if we were being “unreasonable” in our communication, maybe we deserved them.  Just when we thought we were being perfectly reasonable, we ignited what became a firestorm of misunderstanding and conflict.  How many times have you “been there and done that?”

Who Is Reasonable?
Wouldn’t you agree that we are, at least sometimes, unreasonable?  But there’s a much deeper significance to this claim.  We are not only unreasonable; we all possess a corrupted sense of reason!  This claim may sound too extreme.  And, we may not want to hear it.  But it is true.  The “reason” it is true comes from the highest possible authority— from God Himself!

But, some will ask, “How do I know God exists?  And even if He does exist, why should I trust Him to define ‘my truth’ or ‘my reality?’”  Or, “What right does God have to dictate how I identify myself—whether as saint or sinner, boy or girl, man or woman, dog or cat?”  Bottom line-- does God get to define my truth and reality, or do I? 

Today, more and more people are thinking and speaking as if God doesn’t exist.  It follows that if there isn’t a God to whom we are accountable, everyone can do what seems right in his or her (or choose your own pronoun) own eyes (Judges 17: 6).  It is clear that when logic and reason fail, and when there is no belief in absolutes, the field becomes ripe for disagreement, anger, and even violence.  Add to that the growing disrespect for authority and judicial accountability and the dry tinder of selfish pride and autonomy can ignite into social chaos. 

On the other hand, if God does exist, He has the right as our Creator to define truth and reality.  And, if His Word expressed in the Bible is true, then we have an objective framework (not subjective) within which to reason and understand the truth.  Without this reference point, we are accurately described as “unreasonable.”

The Origin of Reason
What is the origin of true reasoning?  The ancient Greeks gave us the word, logos.  To them, the logos meant what we now refer to as logic.  Heraclitis (535-475 BC) defined logos as the cosmic principle and ordering force or “current” that accounts for the operation of the universe.  As
Matthew Boffey wrote, “The world exhibits order because it reflects the nature of the logos that structures it.” 

C.L. Johnstone wrote in his book, Listening to the Logos: Speech and the Coming of Wisdom in Ancient Greece (2009), “The logos is to the world (kosmos) as law (nomos) is to the city.”  Both represent the underlying basis that “gives an account” for the observed order.  It follows that reasoning leads to the truth when consistent with the logos which gives an account for the order of the universe; such reasoning is “logical.”

Both Heraclitus’s and Johnstone’s concept of logos was predated many centuries by the writings of King David (1040-970 BC), the great Hebrew shepherd, warrior, writer, musician, and king.  David was inspired to write Psalm 19 which is divided into two major parts.  Verses 1-6 directs us to the marvelous order and beauty of the universe which are “declaring the glory of God” and which “show forth His handiwork (v. 1).”  David seems to recognize that there is some underlying principle of which the order and regularity of creation is an outward expression. 

The remainder of Psalm 19, seemingly by analogy, points to “the law of the LORD” which is pure, makes wise the humble, protects him from great destruction, and gives order and purpose to the obedient follower.  Message:  God is the Author of physical order in the universe and of moral order for wise living.  But if this message is true, and if God is Holy, how do we account for the existence of the “il-logic,” the “un-reasonable,” and the resultant evil and darkness that is descending upon the world?  Romans 3: 10-12 states,
There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one
The Death of Reason
In Romans 1: 18-20, God’s Word explains of how we lost our reason.  You may wince at even the thought of this sad account.  Indeed, the razor-sharp truth about us in the biblical account pricks our flesh where our pride resides.  Here are the main points of the moral framework of God’s Word:

1) God revealed the truth about Himself…. (v, 20)
     a) His invisible attributes
     b) His eternal power
     c) His divine nature
2) His righteous personhood is reflected in (v. 19)
     a) our human personality as His image-bearers
     b) our sense of reason
     c) our conscience
3) God reveals His wisdom through the logos of Creation (v. 20).

4) But our human response to all of this is to
    a) dishonor God as God (v. 21)
    b) show our unthankfulness (v. 21)
    c) suppress His truth (v. 18)
    d) cause foolish speculation about what is truth (v. 21)
5) …and the result is
    a) mankind, in professing to be wise, became fools (v. 22)
    b) our hearts are darkened, lacking the light of God’s reasoning
    c) we suffer natural consequences of our disobedience (v. 24-31).
    d) we invite and encourage others to partake of our sin (v. 32).

Parts 1 to 3 of the above outline includes the revelation of God’s character and an account of His created order.  In contrast, Part 4 outlines the progression of the human response, beginning with our choice not to “honor God or give thanks.”  Dishonor has led to denial of God’s truth; then, to suppression of truth; and finally, to denial of the existence of objective truth.  

Once we yield to the progression of dishonor and denial, Part 5 outlines our final descent to darkness.  First, we are deceived and deluded, thinking we are wise when we are actually fools.  Our deception—not knowing truth and not knowing that we don’t it—we are described as having “vain imaginations” and “foolish, darkened hearts.”   We are blinded to the “light” of God’s truth and reasoning.  Once we are in this spiritual condition, God’s judgment falls upon us in the form of allowing us to suffer the consequences of “going our own way (Romans 1: 24, 26, 28).”

“Men without Chests”
Until recent years, we addressed major challenges and solved them with well-reasoned and respectable debate.  But today, in spite of abundant scientific knowledge, almost instantaneous online communication, and great economic and social advancement, we have never been more divided.  We argue endlessly over issues without respect for differing opinions or long-established truth and logic.  And why not, considering that there can be no logical discourse if moral relativism overrides belief in objective truth. 

As a consequence of our denial of God’s truth and a respect for His moral and created order, the distinctions that were once clear to us are now blurred or erased whether they are biological (e.g. gender confusion), political (e.g. national boundaries), constitutional (e.g. citizenship, individual rights), judicial (e.g. “two-tiered justice”), historical (e.g. Is America exceptional?), and ontological (e.g. Am I a human or a cat?).

In his book,
The Abolition of Man1 (1943), C.S. Lewis predicted that denial of absolute truth “would lead to the decay of morality and a lack of virtue within society.  Without a belief in and the teaching of universal moral laws, we fail to educate the heart and are left with intelligent men who behave like animals or as Lewis puts it, ‘Men without Chests’ (C.S. Lewis Institute).” Gone are the virtues that derive from the fruit of God’s Spirit when He is allowed to work in spiritually healthy “chests:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...(Galatians 5: 22-23). 

In sharp contrast, God’s Word describes in unbridled detail the attitudes and behaviors of “men without chests” as those being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Romans 1: 29-32).

Second Peter 2: 10-12 compares those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority… as being …like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge…  How is it possible for humans to be so “unreasonable” and blinded to truth, order, and righteousness?   Again, Lewis describes the deplorable spiritual state of morally lawless “men without chests:”
And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible…  In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.  We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

It ought to be obvious from observation of our world as we described it, and also the biblical references and our quotes from more recent authors like C.S. Lewis that something is deeply wrong.  Having rejected God’s truth and the revelation of His character through His creation and through His Word, all of us deserve condemnation.  Whether or not we agree with the verdict, God’s verdict trumps ours.  God declares us unreasonable people who are walking in darkness (1 John 2: 11)!”  But thankfully, God doesn’t leave us without reason and grappling in darkness.

“Reason for Life”-- in Human Form

We conclude this admittedly depressing Part 3 of “Reasoning for Life” with a very positive reminder.  That is, Part 1 of this series, “Before There Was Any Thing” (Click
HERE to read) explains how God’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Logos, “reasoning for Life,” came seeking us.  While we were walking blindly on our own rebellious path leading away from God, He being rich in mercy, when we were still dead and blinded by our sin, provided a way to a new beginning (Ephesians 2: 4).  We can be “born again” into “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5: 17) through faith in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

What’s even more amazing is that when Jesus Christ, the Logos, came into His creation through His incarnation, He was rejected by His own people including each of us living today.  Although Christ made everything to “fit together” in perfect “fit-ness,” He was rejected as being “un-fit” and was eventually crucified.  Part 2 of “Reasoning for Life, “The Creator of “Fitness” Didn’t Fit” (Click
HERE.), describes this amazing entry of Jesus Christ, the “Light of the World,” into our spiritual darkness, and how the darkness did not overcome it.

What Next?
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, the “Reasoning for Life?”  We have discussed how He existed “before there was any thing” (
Part 1) and how He came into this dark world as God’s Messiah.  But as Creator of fitness, Christ didn’t fit because, this sin-darkened world of unreasonable people rejected Him  (Part 2).  They were blinded to the Truth He came to bring.  Only by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection can we receive the faith to believe and become born again in His likeness, and members of His body, the true church of Christ.

In Part 4 of “Reasoning for Life,” entitled, “Light into Darkness” we plan to use the Apostle John’s metaphor of light and darkness to distinguish revealed truth from error, and spiritual life from spiritual death as we feature John’s account of Jesus healing the man who was blind from birth (John 9).

Care to Comment?
Meanwhile, you may have read this article and are left with a sense of confusion, uncertainty, and even fear.  If you have never encountered the “Good News” or Gospel, let us help.   The “Good News” is summarized in an outline called “Steps to Peace with God” (Click
HERE.) which explains God’s love, our predicament (sin and separation from God), what Jesus has done to address our predicament, and what you can do by faith to receive God’s righteousness (right standing with a Holy God).  If you have additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  Just post a “Comment” below or e-mail to
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York: Touchstone, 1996), pp. 35–37.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Ohio Issue 1 Defeated-- What Does It Mean?

The August 8 special election in Ohio produced a convincing victory for the opponents of Issue 1. If it had passed, Issue 1 would have increased the size of the majority necessary to amend the Ohio Constitution from the current 50% + 1 vote majority to a 60% majority.  In view of the steeper requirements of most other states, and the two-thirds majority necessary to amend our U.S. Constitution, the call for a 60% majority was certainly reasonable.

In addition to increasing the majority to 60%, Issue 1 would have required that any initiated petition to amend the Ohio Constitution after January 1, 2024 must contain the signatures of at least 5% of the population in each Ohio county.
 In this way, Issue 1 had aimed to ensure that all counties in Ohio, not just urban counties, can have a voice in the democratic process.  [Read more, click HERE.]

Were Ohio Voters Confused?
Admittedly, many of us were disappointed that Issue 1 failed by a wide margin, 57% to 43%.  Our first reaction was to believe that the vote did not reflect the values that a majority of Ohioans place on the sanctity of the life of unborn children, and of their mothers and fathers.  After all, both opponents and supporters focused their appeals on protecting the Ohio Constitution and suggested that, if we don’t vote their way, the will of Ohioans will cease to be represented. Because abortion was highlighted less by both sides, we thought the outcome might represent a confused electorate rather than their views on abortion.

However, when we looked at the polling data prior to the election, we discovered that the “confused voter theory” would not hold water.  Opinion polls taken prior to August 8 revealed that a majority of Ohioans had already declared their opposition to the Heartbeat Law.  In fact, a USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll (Click HERE.), conducted July 9-12, 2023 with a margin of error of + 4.4%, indicated that 58% of Ohio voters supported the abortion rights proposal that may be on the November, 2023 ballot, 32% opposed it, and 10% were undecided.   As noted earlier, an almost identical 57% of Ohioans voted against Issue 1.  Also, and Emerson College Poll (Click HERE.) conducted in October, 2022 registered a similar result with 54% opposed, 46% in support of the Heartbeat Law.

We might conclude that the defeat of Issue 1 was in fact reflective of Ohioan’s position on abortion law and not due to confusion from the campaign arguments.  But wait!  We ought to address three more questions that arise--one from the polling data, another from the distribution of the voting across the State of Ohio, and the third, “How Should We Respond?”

Are Polling Data Accurate?
The accuracy of any polling data depends upon how the sampling of public opinion was collected.  For example, how were the questions worded, how large was the sample size, and was the sampling representative, in this case, of the voting population of Ohio?  In our opinion, the USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll does not meet these standards.  The polling sample size was only 500 Ohio voters.  This number amounts to only one-half dozen voters per county, and it is unlikely that every Ohio county was represented.  Of the 500 voters questioned, only 46 people were registered voters!  So, the conclusions made from this poll was based largely on 454 individuals, many of whom may not have cared enough to invest the time to become informed and then actually vote.

Nevertheless, we might be tempted to accept the polling results based on the fact that, as we noted above, its results predicted very closely how the vote on Issue 1 would fall.  On the surface, this logic appears sound.  However, we must remember that while pre-election polls can predict the outcome, there is also the possibility that polls can influence an outcome.  For example, voters who have a weak moral foundation and/or who are easily swayed by the direction of the crowd or culture could be influenced by polling data favorable toward abortion.

We now turn to our third question:  Was the outcome of the special election representative of the opinion of Ohioans as a whole?   Just as polling data can fail to represent the opinion of a population at-large; so, a political issue can be decided without a large sector of the population being represented.  Let’s look at the distribution of the August 8 voter returns.

Did the Vote Represent All of Ohio?

Results of the election in each county suggest that the wishes of the rural population of Ohioans, spread over much of the area of the state and representing 67 counties, were not represented in the outcome.  Instead, the outcome was determined largely by urban voters in only 21 counties out of 88 Ohio counties.  Granted, Issue 1 failed on the basis of vote count.  But it is unfortunate that high population densities in relatively few Ohio cities can overpower the wishes of voters in hundreds of small cities, towns, and rural areas.

Perhaps there are at least two challenges given by the defeat of Issue 1.  First, the defeat is an example of the will of “urban Ohio culture” being exercised over the will of “rural Ohio culture.” This outcome emphasizes all the more the importance of the requirement stated within Issue 1.  Namely, if both cultures in Ohio are to be represented in major lawmaking decisions, then any constitutional amendment should require supporting signatures from all Ohio counties.  Second
Ohio will become further divided politically, culturally, and spiritually, unless we work to improve communication and understanding between urban and rural cultures.  If we do not, Ohio will join other states like Illinois, Michigan, and California where cultural values of the more conservative rural landscape are held hostage by deteriorating urban areas.

How can we accomplish bridging the “two Ohio’s?”  From a Christian viewpoint, we have many examples of how the church has been effective in bringing people out of hopelessness to salvation and restoration.  Throughout history and around the world, God’s people have given their love, treasures, and message of hope to urban dwellers.  Many urbanites have never traveled to a rural landscape or been exposed to rural culture and values.  Perhaps readers will join us in praying, seeking God’s leading on how to respond to this need which is increasing with the increase in urban lawlessness and the influx of migrants.  For example, we just published an article, “Community Caring for People and Land” (CLICK HERE.)  What if the example of community caring for people and land exercised in small town Ohio through parks and recreation organizations, churches, etc. could be expanded to build bridges into larger urban communities?  Please let us hear from you.  Use “Comments” below or contact us at

How Should We Respond?
No one likes to lose, especially in an important election.  But we must press on realizing that the Heartbeat Law may be on the ballot in November.  We can be informed, advocate, and pray on behalf of lives of the unborn.  We can continue to use the 6-Week Prayer Guide for Ohio, the Unborn, and Women entitled More Than Conquerers, which is freely available for individuals, churches, or groups from the Center for Christian Virtue, an Ohio advocacy group (CLICK HERE for more information.).

Prayer reminds us that we serve on behalf of God’s purposes and His coming kingdom.  Prayer helps us develop a distinct hate and aversion to sin while loving the sinner as Christ loves all of us sinners, both the redeemed and those who still need to repent and receive Christ as their Savior.

Again, our readers should understand that we do not condemn mothers who elect to have an abortion, or the fathers who support or press for that decision.  Rather, we condemn the act of abortion and regret the sin and the judgment that follows this violation of God’s command not to murder (Genesis 9: 6:  Exodus 20: 13).  Isn’t it tragic when mothers who are alive because their mothers chose life decide that their babies have no right to live?  Even apart from the penalty of violating God’s law are the natural consequences of violating the “sowing and reaping principle (Galatians 6: 7-8)”:

Do not be deceived: God is not to be mocked.
Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. 
The one who sows to please his flesh,
from the flesh will reap destruction;
but the one who sows to please the Spirit,
from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

We conclude with a challenging call from the six-week prayer booklet,
More Than Conquerers, cited above.  The call is to worship and lift our prayers to God on behalf of the unborn, mothers, and fathers:
“American culture is captivated by instant gratification. As our attention spans have waned, so has our ability to wait; to endure moments of discomfort and distress; even to understand why sometimes we shouldn't get everything we want the moment we want it.

In such a culture, patient and persistent prayer to the God of the universe is a radical idea. Prayer is stillness. Prayer takes time. Prayer requires honesty and, even sometimes, discomfort. Prayer acknowledges that we are not in control.

Through prayer, Christians are invited to "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you" (1Peter 5: 7).

Not only is prayer counter-cultural to those outside the church; often it's misunderstood inside.  Prayer is not a moment that we decide to spend in God's presence, as if He lives in our world.  Rather, prayer is a moment in which we discipline our hearts to focus on God's constant presence.

Through prayer, we worship God.  Through that worship, we tune our hearts to His goodness.  We remind ourselves of who He is, and of the gift of knowing and trusting Him.  And yes, we bring Him our supplications-- because that is what Jesus told us to do when He said to pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done (Matthew 6: 10).

Praying for the protection of preborn babies in a culture captivated by instant gratification, the worship of "individualism," and a growing disdain for the value of human life can feel like a futile endeavor.  But let us remember, again, how God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt.  Exodus 3 contains five of the most radical words in all of Scripture: "I have heard their cries."  And because God heard those cries, with a "mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Deuteronomy 26: 8), He brought justice. 

Pray this week, with confidence in God's goodness and His deliverance, that He would hear the cries of His people for the protection of new life.   Pray that He would turn the hearts of mothers toward their children and away from fear, and that He would thwart all plans of the Enemy to persist in building a culture of death.  Pray that his justice would "roll down like waters" (Amos 5: 24).   
Pray that his Kingdom would come, where every human life no matter how new or small or "planned," is valued and protected. Pray that his will would be done.  (From:  More Than Conquerers, Center for Christian Virtue, pages 13-14.)

As always, we welcome “Comment” from readers.   We are particularly interested in your thoughts about the “two Ohio’s,” one urban and the other rural as the Ohio map of Issue 1 voting clearly shows.  If you reside in another state, or in a smaller town or city, you may still experience this two-culture phenomenon.  How can we make a difference?  Please use the “Comment” link below for ideas or questions; or, contact us personally at

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Community Caring for People and Land

The Engish word, "community" is derived from the Latin word, communis, meaning "in common," or  "public, shared by all or many."  Similarly, our word "conservation" has the meaning of "serving together with."

Conservation of land and resources makes us aware that we are members not only of the local civic community but also of a complex “biotic community.” Within this community, we share a vital interdependence upon “the land”-- the soil, water, landscape, and creatures.  Participation in conservation draws people into a community of caring individuals as they develop awareness, and then, an ethical commitment to be stewards or caretakers of the land.  Their commitment to serve together toward a common goal strengthens the human community and benefits the biotic community.

Reasons for Caring
Caring for the land brings many rewards or benefits.  Some of these are monetary as urban residents recognize under the heading of “maintaining property values;” or, as our dedicated farmers realize, and therefore are committed to conserve their soil, water, and wildlife.  Local and regional businesses and corporations can also profit by presenting an environmentally conscious image.

The motivations for caring about the land we have so far discussed, while certainly valid and worthy of merit, rest heavily upon the hope of direct or indirect personal gain—i.e. they are ultimately human-centered, or anthropocentric, and utilitarian.  However, for some of us, the human-centered motivations can lead to a deeper level of commitment to the land which becomes interwoven with the people and things we hold dear.  The great land conservationist, Aldo Leopold, inspired his followers to develop a love and affection for the land out of a conviction that it has value in its own right apart from human valuing.  The ethicist J. B. Callicott has stated that the biblical environmental stewardship ethic confers “objective intrinsic value on nature in the clearest and most unambiguous of ways:  by divine decree.”  [For those wishing to read more on the subject, we have discussed land conservation ethics elsewhere (Click HERE.)]

Conservation in Madison County, OH
Regardless of our motivation for caring about the land within which we live, participation in land and community stewardship efforts tends to deepen our awareness, appreciation, and commitment to the land.  Although we are no longer residents of southwest Ohio, and in particular Greene, Clark, and Madison counties, our commitment to land and community stewardship was deepened through our association with those local landscapes and the land stewards who were committed to their care.

This article is a tribute to both the land and people who have invested so much because of their love and respect for the land and the community within Madison County.  We will especially highlight their efforts to conserve pre-settlement prairie community remnants for their ecological, historic, and aesthetic value.

Historic Treasures of ‘Madison Plains’
Residents of Madison County are familiar with the “Madison Plains,” a name that was derived from the historic existence of extensive treeless areas dominated by prairie grasslands.  [We have discussed the geologic and historic origins of these prairie areas and their current remains (remnants) elsewhere (Click HERE.).] 

The focus of this article is upon several personalities who recognized the significance and value of these prairie remnants and were instrumental in educating local residents and visitors as to their worth.  Each of these would humbly defer to others as having a more significant role—evidence of a cooperative effort for the sake of the community and the land. 

Speaking of cooperative effort, the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails (FMCPT) and the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District represent great cooperation between organizations and within the membership.  I have relied heavily on the excellent website of the FMCPT (Click HERE.) maintained by their webmaster, Gregg Alexander; and communications with FMCPT Executive Director, Wayne Roberts, for information shared below.

Jack McDowell

Our tribute to conservation of remnant prairie areas in Madison County in recent years must acknowledge Jack McDowell, “friend, nature advocate, and community leader,” who died in 2012.  According to the Jack McDowell Memorial webpage of the FMCPT, Jack was an early member of the organization and was “involved with the work of parks and trails for decades.  He was researching and identifying wildflowers and prairie grasses along the Prairie Grass Trail long before the idea of the Ohio to Erie Trail was born.  Jack was a key proponent of the trailheads and nature preserves in Madison County.”

It was my privilege as a student at Malone College to learn of Jack’s interest in Madison Co. prairie communities through my biology professor, Dr. Charles C. King.  “Charlie” had met Jack while each of the two Ohio conservation enthusiasts were exploring remnant prairies back in the 1960’s.  Nearly a half-century later, in 2008, it was my honor to walk the Prairie Grass Trail with Jack to experience his passion for native flora and to observe some of the fruit of his vision and field work.  An informational sign honoring the contribution of Jack McDowell has been located at the London, Ohio trailhead.

“Roberts Pass”

Bicyclers who travel the segment of the Ohio-Erie Trail from Maple Street to Wilson Road, London, Ohio traverse what is affectionately known as “Roberts Pass.”  But instead of seeing steep topography or tall canyon walls as the name suggests, bikers may learn that “Roberts Pass” is named in memory of two humble men who will always stand tall in the records of Madison County conservation and community enrichment.  One of these men is Wayne Roberts, Executive Director of FMCPT who has not only capably led the organization but has been instrumental in establishing cooperation of FMCPT with many other community, state, and national organizations related to conservation and recreation as recorded in the FMCPT website.  Among the appropriate recognitions of Wayne’s valuable contributions was the induction into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, in 2013.  It has been difficult to write in tribute to Wayne because he insists on deflecting credit and referring to the contributions of so many of his committed Friends of Madison County.

One such loyal friend of Wayne and of FMCPT, recently deceased, was Gene Pass whose name fittingly completes the name for “Roberts Pass.”  In recognition of his decades of hard work, cooperative spirit, and leadership related to advancement of Madison Co. parks and trails, Gene was inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, in 2006.  The following excerpt from a letter supporting Gene’s nomination describes a portion of his admirable participation prior to 2006:

During his tenure on the board, Gene played a key role in extending the Ohio to Erie Trail across Madison County.  He helped document key engineering points such as bridges and culverts.  He donated the use of his truck, trailer, mower, chainsaw, and many other personal tools to help prepare for the construction of this multi-purpose trail.  He personally picked up and carried away literally tons of trash along the trail right-of-way.  Along with cleaning up the trash, he spent nearly three years clearing trees and brush to develop a construction road 6 ½ miles long to help reduce the cost to the community for the actual construction of the trail.  During the cold of winter and heat of summer this tireless senior was the shining example of persistent volunteerism.  Later, he was on the site on a daily bases to assist the contracted construction company during the building of the trail.  As a result of his dedication to this project, the Madison County Park District, the City of London, and the Ohio to Erie Trail Fund, without prior knowledge to Gene, placed a stone marker at the start of this 6 ½ mile section of the trail calling it “Roberts Pass” in recognition of Gene Pass and Wayne Roberts.

Gene’s magnetic personally has attracted volunteers to the various non-profits he has served in the community.  Part of this is because he quietly leads by example, preferring to leave the recognition to others.  However, when put into a leadership position he has carried out his duties professionally.

Abby’s and my acquaintance with Gene began later in his life when he was dealing with age-related ailments but still maintaining an active role in FMCPT and bikeway-related events.  Like Wayne Roberts, Gene’s life is a testimony of dedication to a enhancing his community and its residents by participation and leadership in efforts aimed at conservation and recreation.

Jerry Miller
Jerry Miller is another tireless worker who we have been blessed to know.  A recognition of Jerry on behalf of the FMCPT for his character and contributions is worthy of reprinting here in part:

It’s not unusual for people to give back to their communities.  But when someone over 70 with physical pain, gives cheerfully and energetically back to others, it’s an inspiring example and deserving of recognition.  However, when that person had a tough start in life, when his parents separated while he was three and placed him in foster care, it’s even more inspiring.  After living with several foster families, and changing schools thirteen times before graduating from high school, Jerry decided to make some changes.  He moved to Columbus, found a job, and joined the National Guard.  During the next six years he married his high school sweetheart, received an Honorable Discharge, and was asked to run the construction company where he worked.  In a few years, he decided to open his own company, hired workers, and never looked back.

After retiring due to a deliberating ankle injury, Jerry started looking for volunteer work.  He heard that FMCPT was trying to acquire space in a building that needed repairs.  Jerry explained about his building experience and soon gave the building a thorough review and a checklist of repairs for FMCPT to consider.  The FMCPT Board soon came to understand that Jerry was a leader and a doer so they decided to nominate him to the Board of Directors, in 2010.

Jerry has donated his carpentry skills toward making display cabinets and kiosks for the London Trailhead and along the trail; and, donated his own equipment to assist in brush removal and excavating to create level platforms for a camping area near the trailhead.

Besides Jerry Miller’s extensive physical contributions to the community, the tribute to him also includes reference to Jerry’s character, noting that …what’s even more important is what he teaches us.  That at any age, even with medical issues, one can express kindness and generosity in a manner that motivates others to do more, to try harder, to resist the temptation to give up when the going gets tough.  Jerry shows us that being strong has very little to do with one’s physical size or strength.  That a person’s high moral character while doing one’s best persistently and consistently, are what people see as a truly strong person.  Jerry inspires others to do their best by the life he lives.

Public Recognition, Private Satisfaction
By now, I suspect that readers of this tribute will be thinking of the names of others that deserve recognition but have not been included.  I recognize that anyone’s good intention to honor individuals who are worthy will invariably come with the risk that omissions will offend.  However, I hope readers will forgive me.  Indeed, my omissions speak more of my own limited acquaintance with the many other noteworthy individuals and projects of the FMCPT over the years.

I trust that those who expect to see more names, including perhaps their own name, will rest in the fact that contributions of whatever sort that are made in good faith from the heart will be honored much beyond our poor ability to do so here.  I am comforted in the fact that I know from my acquaintances and friendships over the past 15 years that Friends of Madison Co. Parks and Trails work for a cause much above personal recognition—rather it is for community, recreation, conservation, and the betterment of biological, soil, and water resources.

Not only do we find comfort in worthy work well done regardless of public recognition, but there is much encouragement when a family and an organization honor their members and their dedication long after their death.  To illustrate, we offer personal tributes to two Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails whom some of us remember fondly from personal experience:  Bill Young and Richard McKenzie.  Although they are no longer with us, their names engraved on memorials or functional structures along the trails remind us of their dedication and respective contributions. 

ill Young
Bill Young was a  much beloved and dedicated member of the FMCPT.   A tribute to Bill on the FMCPT website (Click HERE.) includes the following:

John W. “Bill” Young, founding member and Board Director of FMCPT died on Saturday, November 1, 2008 while doing what he loved – cycling. He suffered a fatal heart attack along the Prairie Grass Trail just outside of London. Bill was actively involved in the community for many years. He helped clear brush, trees, and trash in preparations for the Ohio-To-Erie trail being built through Madison County. He was a trained and certified Trail Sentinel. Bill actively served as a fundraiser and past Treasurer for FMCPT.

I was privileged to work with Bill in one of my first encounters with FMCPT while we were clearing brush along the Prairie Grass Trail.  The memory of Bill’s life and dedication to community and conservation lives on in our hearts and is reinforced by a wonderful memorial located near the London trailhead.

Richard McKenzie 
Visitors to the London Trail Head who use the walking bridge connecting the Prairie Grass Trail to the nearby Madison County Senior Center will learn that the bridge has been named the “McKenzie Bridge” in honor of Richard McKenzie.  According to Wayne Roberts, Richard literally “was the bridge” that connected the ministry of the Senior Center to the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails. 

The “bridge construction” between the Center and FMCPT began when Richard retired from the State of Ohio Corrections and Adult Parole Authority after 31 years and began to volunteer at the Senior Center.  He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1996 and devoted many volunteer hours to brightening the lives of seniors and other needy folks through teaching a carving class, distribution of food, and offering kind assistance and a listening ear to the elderly and lonely.  In 1999, Richard was honored with a service award by the Summerfield United Methodist Church for his “dedicated food deliveries to the church.”

In 2000, Richard became interested in the Ohio-to-Erie bike trail and was elected to the Board of FMCPT as one of the original members.  He soon became the main fundraiser for FMCPT for a number of years by organizing the live auction which was held at the Senior Center.  His commitment to both the Senior Center and FMCPT enabled Richard to serve as a major force behind the funding and construction of the bridge that bears his name.  Richard along with Bill Young, and also Gene Pass whom he brought into FMCPT, helped clear the path for the Prairie Grass Trail.  Appropriately, Richard has a memorial bench at the Prairie Grass Trailhead and he was inducted into the
Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame,
in 2002.

Enduring friendships made in community organizations like the Friends of Madison Co. Parks and Trails enrich our lives.  They also enrich our experience of bicycling on the trails that now bear the fruit of those whose sweat, skill, creativity, and passion have maintained the trails and native plant populations that adorn the landscape.  And, speaking of memorials and history, the latest project of FMCPT and cooperating organizations makes a great addition for cyclers to enjoy.

Community Mural Project

The Community Mural Project was accomplished by FMCPT under the leadership of Gregg Alexander and coordinated with Wayne Roberts, Van Viney, and Ray Thornton.  They enlisted young volunteers from Michigan to restore the trim of a deteriorating brick building located along Roberts Pass Trail in London, OH. The volunteers who serve within the nationwide Student Life Camp network scraped, primed, and painted the trim.  The students were provided housing on campus at nearby Cedarville University.

The renewed trim now surrounds beautiful murals painted by local artist, Clay Hurley, featuring various stages in the history of the landscape of what is now Madison County.  Landscaping between the murals and the bikeway includes 1,400 plantings of native plant species and is still a work in progress.  The Madison County Master Gardeners are planning to add 900 more plugs of native grasses and wildflowers in September.

In conclusion, we began by emphasizing that participation in land conservation makes us aware that we are residents not only of the human community around us, but also the biotic community with its landscape of creatures, soil, and water.  Hopefully, our tribute to several noteworthy participants in Madison Co. community and conservation efforts will motivate us all toward an appreciation of and commitment to our own community as participants who fulfill our responsibilities as stewards of that which is entrusted to us for our care, enjoyment, and commitment to purposes and values that extend beyond ourselves and our time on Earth. 

As always, we welcome “Comment” from readers.   You may use the “Comment” link below or contact us personally at

 1 Quoted from Fred Van Dyke, 2006.  Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 58(1):48.