Family North Carolina MagazineMay/Jun 2008
By Bill Brooks
Yesterday I was a fly on the wall.
I was the only member of the public to attend the dissertation defense of our new director of research, Matt Lytle. Matt defended his doctoral thesis on “perichoresis” (no it’s not a disease) before three noted theologians. There were a lot of questions, and fortunately Matt had a satisfactory answer for every onethe end result being that we can now call him Dr. Lytle.
I came away from that experience thinking that, in addition to knowing more about the subject of perichoresis than I thought possible, there is a sense of comfort to hear learned men discussing matters of faith that are ultimately at the heart of our experience here on this earth. It was quite enjoyable to hear Matt respond to the barrage of questions and hold his own with thoughtful and accurate answers.
Last week Matt and Jere Royall, our director of community relations, represented us at a conference in Greensboro sponsored by the North Carolina Council of Churches. Called a “conversation,” the event was an attempt to find common ground and understanding on public policy issues among people from different Christian faith perspectives. I am told that our team brought some new viewpoints to the conversation and that there was good discussion on various points. Matt expressed one common area of agreement this way: “We all hate the lottery.”
But the lottery continues to roll on, constantly sucking money from the pockets and family budgets of those who can least afford it. Fortunately for those responsible for running North Carolina’s gambling business, they are allowed to use averages to make their reports. Our research has shown in states that require such information to be made available, that only five percent of those playing the lottery purchase an amazing 54 percent of the tickets sold.
Recently, I was watching the late news on one of our local channels and noticed that there are now two drawings or announcements for two different lottery gambling opportunities. It was also quite clear that there was no mention of the odds of winning either of these two events. I know that technically these nightly presentations may not be considered advertising, but in the truest sense they are. Viewers are being told again and again that the person who has a particular combination of numbers has won a large sum of money.
The last time I filled up with gas, I noticed the clerk behind the checkout counter was fiddling with some lottery tickets. I asked her what the powerball jackpot was up to. She said, “About $81 million.” I did some head math and explained to her that the odds of one ticket winning the jackpot was about the same as if you chose one person at random from 1,000 stadiums, each filled with 70,000 people. She looked at me and said: “Is it really that hard to win?”
The General Assembly is coming back on May 13 for another round of lawmaking. It will mark my 20th year as a registered lobbyist for that body. Very few of the legislators who were serving when I began in 1988 are still there. It’s always interesting when issues come up and you are able to talk about it because you were involved when it was considered years before. I mentioned my lobbying history to someone yesterday and they said: “Lobbyists don’t have a very good reputation these days, do they?” He went on to add: “Of course, there are good lobbyists and then there are the bad ones.”
I might mention here that our involvement with a coalition of groups to reform the role of lobbyists has brought some meaningful changes in the process in the past few years. Several members of our staff are registered as lobbyists, in order that we can take our research findings to the legislature and work with members on various issues without having to worry that someone will be concerned that we should be registered.
By now, you are probably asking: “What does perichoresis have to do with lobbying and working on policy issues that affect the family?” Well, I don’t have the time or the space to delve into that considerable issue at this time, but since we have an expert on staff, maybe Dr. Matt will share some insights with us on this topic in the future.
What I do know is we are glad to have Matt Lytle working with us on a daily basis. He has a good working knowledge of Christian ethics and is developing a wonderful grasp of the issues we are confronting. I hope you will welcome Matt as you see him at one of our dinners or other events or as you hear him speak in different venues across North Carolina. And when you see him, feel free to ask him to explain perichoresisthat is, if you can pronounce it.
Bill Brooks is president and executive director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.