Monday, November 09, 2009

The payoff of organizing myself

"Organization is simply being kind to your future self."

That about sums it up! And is a good filter, for me, to know what needs to be 'organized' (addressed, acted on, etc.) and what can be ignored or stored.

Got this quote from Robert Peake, who works IT for The David Allen Company, during a podcast of theirs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Missing out... so foolish, so sad

I'm still pulling weeds during harvest.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Am I right or am I wrong?

I have been trained to discern error. But am I my own false-teacher?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Will government election-parties become "Brands" that fail?

I was reading the always-behind, monthly 'update' on Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve (the Culture Pulse section) for this September. It is titled "The End of Brands."

Summary of the short article: Brand loyalty is going away. Quickly!

Her assessment? Because Brands don't really deliver on what they promise. The antithesis of 'the Brand' (or, read another way, where Brands have failed) is "transparency", "Honesty", and "Serv[ing the customer]".

Jean Baudrillard in his anti-Consumerist (read: semi-Marxist) days had a pretty interesting observation: those running for Office in the U.S. use a marketing approach (vs. an intellectual or governmental/service or ...).

Putting Baudrillard and Popcorn together, the "Two Parties" have become Brands. And they are failing. They promised Utopia and are, at best, fulfilling their own Utopia of power and importance (amongst those in D.C., ironically).

But we can't stop 'buying' the government like we can a Brand. The government doesn't 'go out of business' if we don't vote. It's easy enough to simply buy the brand stocked right next to The Brand. Maybe we should buy the Party right next to the Brand parties.

[ Unless you live in Washington, and maybe other states, where the "pre"elections make sure we leave off the non-Brand options. Isn't the Pacific Northwest supposed to be 'progressive'? not Super-Limiting?!?! ]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Idolatry in a Land without gods

Historically, it seems the VAST majority of people (or better, people-groups) have had some kind of super-human entity/entities** as a part of their understanding of the world/universe.

(Western) Modernity has put forth a variety of methods to negate the need or connection with all things more-than-human. My assessment is that this comes from the voracious drive we had (and have largely satisfied) to control . . . everything! [for those that chew on such statements, I think 'prediction' is a form of control]

So here's my theory on the usefulness of a deity/deities. It is a theory that, for the moment, ignores the question of the existence of deity(ies) and the question of whether deity-existence is innate to humans or created. This only looks at utility/usefulness.

As far as I have read, seen, been told, etc. a spirit or god is really important for those parts of life that we cannot control but rely upon nonetheless. Weather, war, & women (that's funny - 'women' can be men and children, too, but they don't illiterate :: 'weather' can be food, too) being the most common.

What these super-humans hold is two things: power and information. What Western Modernity has attempted to accomplish is actually a two-fold feat: massively and rapidly increase knowledge to the place where the sum of information & wisdom can actually become a power in itself. Somewhat similar to how energy and matter become roughly the same thing in "E equals m c squared." as if we attempted to make "Power = Information Application squared." Not sure it worked (nor are most postModern philosophers), but it has largely satisfied a centuries-old desire.

Then came the more subtle shift in what we call 'epistemology' (how is truth determined to be truth). In the Classic period (for discussion, ~500 B.C. to ~500 A.D.), 'truth' is a rationalized ideal, Medieval truth came from authority, with Modern truth swinging back to ideals. What caught my attention is that what was swinging was not just epistemology by itself.

In the Classic period, truth was bigger than the gods, but the gods had Power. Medieval truth came from the humans who had some power, but not much. (the following only works if your browser allows a fixed-width font like Courier)

Truth Power

Classic people gods

Medieval (human)demigods people

Perhaps in Western Modernity we were able to fully collapse Power and Truth into one source. "Information is Power" sums up the belief that Truth is either equivalent or a subset of Information and that it is convert-able, back and forth, with Power ( I=PA^2 like E=mc^2 ). People, if we work hard enough and 'smart' enough, will eventually conquer all Information (from sub-atomic physics to biology to psychology to sociology to astrophysics). Then, we can become all-powerful (modified by the assumption that prediction is a form of Power).

Then we hit relativity, in all its forms. Philosophically (in my opinion [sic]), 'relativity' means each person lives as if they are the final judge on what is True or not; that we are not hypocrites when it comes to Truth (as if we are fine holding onto something we absolutely know to be false).

Practically, if I can get enough information, I can be all-powerful ('enough' being, ironically/recursively defined by 'me'). So I gain Information, mastery, etc. of what I think is important and, thus, fulfill the role that used to be ascribed to deity(ies).

So as the West moves towards a practical (if not real) atheism, we are turning our lands into Mount Olympus where each person thinks of themself as Zeus.

No wonder religions of any kind are having a bit of hard time during these last days of Western Modernity... any god, set of rules, etc. that places itself over Me, King Zeus Himself, is my enemy and must be pummeled like the Titans!

[Note: this is, in good David Malouf fashion, just the beginning of a thought. I'm not sure I like it... yet. Please feel free to interact with me in the comments, personally, email, etc. !!]

** deity, super-human, spirit, etc. are all considered the same thing in the context of this post precisely because this post only looks at the utility of any kind of being/entity, not the essence.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The cure for media, newspapers, and trust

I hear/read more and more about how newspapers, and the news in-general, are crumbling financially. And even more so, people no longer 'trust the media.' Evidently, Walter Cronkite took trust to the grave with him. I start to giggle when I see people get REALLY up-tight that Jon Stewart is now 'the most trusted news giver.' Actually, it's always conservatives that are up-tight...

I laugh because ANYONE who has ever been interviewed knows that misquotes, undesired spin, and slander are expected on everything from the Iraqi war to 'how my neighbor's cat got stuck in a tree.' Just because journalists seem to be held to some standard higher than 7th grade gossip doesn't mean it's happening!! "The news" and meteorologists go to the same school (sic), "Give them just enough truth so that you can't be ignored, but be wrong often enough to never be trusted."

So here's my quick-and-easy solution: attach the audio or video of the interview. Super easy. One can even use YouTube for free.

I predict this will not be done for a few reasons, none of them financial/storage related:
1) the public will get to see what a total moron the journalist is (cf. the absurd John Stossel and other national, talking-heads) by listening to the incredibly useless questions and follow-ups
2) the public will get to see what a total moron the journalist is (cf. the fully incapable John Stossel and other national, talking-heads) when we read/listen to the journalist's synopsis of the whole interview
3) the public will see just how much the 'objective' journalist is fully 'subjective' (seriously, do people really think any journalist is 'objective'?!?!)
- actually, this is a great reason to publish the whole interview. Jon Stewart makes it obvious that he has a political/philosophical bend. I 'trust' him to be biased so I can 'un-spin' what he's saying to fit my tastes as needed. I, then, 'trust' Jon Stewart as a journalist because I know his biases as he does not hide them. It's the fake 'objectivity' that makes me not trust journalists!

Basically, publishing full interviews will make clear whether or not I want to ever read/listen-to a given journalist. But that kind of clarity will destroy the careers of MANY journalists. So I suspect this will never happen. As long as this 'trust' issue remains in-tension (i.e. is NOT resolved), inept journalism will continue as-is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mo Money

When ever I feel the need to justify my money or possessions, I am proving
they are no longer my tools, my slaves
rather I am a slave
to possessing
to the perception of being one-who-possesses-much

And I must wonder,
"Can I even imagine myself simply possessing the tools of money and possessions?
Can I imagine buying only that which is to be consumed and not displayed?"

[ I neither fear God nor love Him and my fellows ]


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stuck on a thought (care to help?)

To the one thinking a thought...

What is the difference between

an assumption . . .

. . . truth

I really am stuck on this one. I can't see through this or around this. I'm feeling stuck.

Please help in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Confidence vs. Certainty

I was listening to my friend, Ted Wueste, as he spoke on "Our Confidence".

Although he didn't put it in quite these words, I was struck with this:

Confidence and Certainty do NOT have-to go together.
I can have one without the other.

I have been swayed by the idea that being Certain about more and more of life will bring the Confidence that I so deeply long for, run after.

Yet Ted proposes (by way of Ecclesiastes) that Confidence comes from entrusting myself to a God that will not always look for my, personal benefit. Confidence comes from entrusting myself to a God that is wiser than I, a God whose wisdom draws me to better self-understanding, to less self-destruction, and ultimately to both a right-standing with Him and a desire for such right-standing above all else [which, ironically, is the essence of 'right standing']

Monday, April 13, 2009

the KEY to Jesus fixing everything

I'm coming to the conclusion that Jesus fixes all my problems and answers all my questions when I let Him define what the problem is, when I let Him give the question.

Or, more realistically, when I come to Him with my issues, I'm finding that He sometimes needs to rework them so that He can (1) be King of my life, (2) 'solve' them according to His intentions/will, (3) be allowed more fully into 'my' world.

Perhaps part of the issue is that I demand to be the One who defines the problem. God must enter my world and fix my problems: true, but not the complete picture.

A quote from this season: Take this problem away, PLEASE! But not My will, let Yours be done.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

from Easter service

Two things struck me from the Liturgical (Lutheran) readings today. One personal, one mental:

1) 'You have made me worthy' - as I struggle to let God love me (read: dysfunction), I find myself naturally(?) going back to my self-definition of Unworthy, Unclean. Jesus' death making me "worthy" is extremely powerful to my self-destructing soul. I was deeply moved and felt deeply loved (both coming 'out of' my dysfunction)

2) 'See the grave its first-fruits giving' - yet another Great Reversal! Graves are NOT associated with producing, giving, creating... That Jesus is the first-fruit of the grave - how perfectly backwards, how perfectly God-like!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Is my 'Christianity' really worth it?

Just finished reading two posts this morning by
- Seth Godin
- Chris Maddox

Putting them together has me wondering this:

is there anything about God Himself

or what He has done in/to/through me (Chris' blog)

that is powerful enough for at least ten people (Seth's blog) I know

to uncontrollably want Jesus as King of their lives?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3 is my new 2

I'm finding that if I find 3 alternatives, I'm much more 'right' then when I only had 2.

So here's the latest, for me.

There are things in life I can Control, I can Influence, and/or I can Accept. In my control, modified by me, out of my control.

I have lived my life (that is, my conversations inside my own head) with only Control and Accept. I'm wondering if most of life is Influence. I'm wondering if my frustrations (historically) have cycled around trying to Control what I was only supposed to Influence. Maybe I was 'deceived' by the movement/change that was happening - I thought I was controlling (poorly) when I was really just Influencing (appropriately?).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How many recessions are there in 2009?

As I read books and blogs, listen to people and podcasts, think about current and future times, watch activities in North America and elsewhere...

I am concluding that the Church in the U.S. is in a recession. God is moving mightily, vastly, and obviously in the Southern Hemisphere and/or the Eastern Hemisphere right now (2000 to present 2009). While there is much talk and desire for God's movement here in the West (e.g. the multitude of new 'movements', 'returns', and organic networks), I would contend that it's not really happening like it did (?) here and is (!) elsewhere. And I'm in-network with many of those working to see it happen.

Personal opinion, I think we are in a "spiritual correction" that is parallel to the financial "corrections" we have seen over the last few years. We built an inflated, less-than-actual 'Christianity' in the West and now it's not working out to be what it claimed. Possible causes, as I see it include:
- New ideas (parallel to new markets)
- 3rd and 4th generation 'Christians' being exposed to other Christians around the world via media(s) (parallel to the idea of 'the informed customer')
- the eventual-but-certain demise of the self-centered version of Christ Followers [pun intended] (parallel to consumer reporting)
- [insert your observation here by using the Comment feature of this blog!]

Recession brings options: push even harder using current methods (or values or competencies or _______) until the recession ends or resources stop, downsize, invest in deeping what is, panic, do something else altogether and wish for better days gone by, get pummeled by market and/or competition and die out.

I would like to suggest that the Church has gotten away from deliberate relationships. We have continued to diminish our deep relationships between fellow Christians so that the Body and Family metaphors of the Bible are now more like social clubs or Facebook groups. We have shrunk our concept of a local church to mirror an affiliation with a political party (increased activity based on periodic activity). We are certainly not known for bringing the Love of God Himself to our neighbors much less the needy (vs. the reputation of the Church the first few hundred years, for example). We encourage a "personal relationship with Jesus" but never get back to Him.

So we throw up 'alternative' movements, we talk about "Change" (a la Obama), we throw money around the world (seriously, how many more times do we have to hear about how easy it would be to end ____ -- for all the money I personally know that people and organizations have 'sent', I still hear little to nothing about change. Perhaps we aren't dealing with the root problems!)... just like our political life. What a waste.

Perhaps it's time to invest deeply, like Singapore Airlines, Amazon, and numerous others who don't talk much during recessions but spend money, time, energy on that which has only long-term payoff (and no immediate payoff - crazy!).

What if we...

  • redid how Children are taught and/or involved in the Real life of God's People
  • created leadership communities inside a local church that include all who are leaders (in particular, young leaders - high school through 90's)
  • invested in mastering/harnessing new mediums of communication so that content isn't bound by the restrictions of one or two
  • chose involvement in 'Spiritual' activity as a way for people to enter into a life with God instead of reserving it for those who have already mastered(?!?) it
  • choose to be not just transparent but outright vulnerable with fellow brothers and sisters, even if it means we might get burned by them - what if we chose to need them
  • saw each other's passions as under our deep, personal care - and left our passions up to their care
  • met and engaged in the lives of our neighbors (the people living within a stone's throw from my quickly closing garage door) -- taking care of those we have direct contact with
    - or co-workers, bosses, subordinates
  • met and engaged our brothers' and sisters' neighbors, too -- taking care of those in direct contact with those we are in direct contact with

What if we saw the Kingdom of God as a slow moving, all-encompasing bacteria that eventually takes over the entire petrie dish leaving self-replicating cells all the while? What if instead of trying to convince others to take huge jumps, we simply brought local humans along on our own journies as God's clay? What if we began to live as if vital-connection to others is equally important as righteous living? What if we stopped being soley pragmatic about the next 50 years and started thinking, "Slow and steady wins the race..." and accomplishes much along the way.

What if we invested deep into people. All people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is God REALLY loving?

Having recently 'visited' (in person, in dialog, and/or in print) a number of churches over a number of continents, I've been struck by how each one has a tendency to start with God where they (felt) need Him most.

  • the East African church sings of victory and release from oppression
  • the Irish church creates art involving the sea, the reality of death, and the 'thin veil' between the realm of God & angels and humans
  • the U.S. church filled with those recovering from various addictions speaks often of Satan and demons / spiritual warfare, of harsh realities and Spiritual platitudes
  • the various North American churches that speak of God's acts of making our lives better (in Canada, U.S., even parts of Mexico)
  • the Palestinian Christians who pray often for the release from the oppression of the Christian Nation (U.S.), the local Arabs, and the Jews - praying many of the Psalms.
And God seems to be just fine with this - meeting us in our situation (vs. us going to Him in His situation). In my objective (ha) assessment, this seems extremely kind of God Almighty.

I know God can see the ramifications of all decisions, so I'm a bit surprised by His willingness to let us start with ourselves - we seem to have a very hard time moving on from this spot (known as 'you are here')

During a conversation about Galatians 1 Tara and I were having with two other couples, Tara noticed that we all have our favorite picture (metaphor) for God: King, Father, Rock, Lover, and Hypocrite. This got me thinking about how we use 'Biblical' metaphors but often with a localized twist. "King" probably means something different to me (here in the leaderless state of Washington) than to my friends in Saudi Arabia - different still than my friends in Jordon. Different still than our brothers and sisters living in tribal situations in the mountains of South America or the island-tribes of the western Pacific.

And once again, I came across the phrase that makes me puke: "A God of Love ______ [insert what one wants God to be, usually justified by a narrow focus on certain parts of the Bible]."
  • A God of Love wants me to be happy (so that's why I'm leaving my spouse) - heard this in 3 divorces to-date
  • A God of Love wants me to feel loved (used for everything from helping Evangelicals and/or Catholics trying to overcome religious guilt to Oprah's 'religious' advisers condoning homosexuality)
  • A God of Love wants me to have a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Him (based on how certain words in the Bible are taken to mean what the speaker longs for in most relationships, in general)
  • A God of Love wouldn't... A God of Love would... A God of Love won't... judge, condemn, make me feel bad, keep me from feeling good, leave me oppressed, let me fail financially, etc.
I am not espousing God is not involved / wanting to be involved in our lives. I am not stating God doesn't care - deeply! I am not denying that God is intensely moved by compassion.Ephesians 1, for example, raises in me some doubts about the me-centeredness approach. I appreciate how God comes to me where I am - I think the problem arises when I define God according to my situation alone.

Seems like we have a hard time letting God be bigger than my situation - my survival, sustaining, or benefit is just not the extent of God's greatness and power. Unless life is all about me. Which it is not, no matter what I say!

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