Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Advent Over--Keep Christmas All Year

Advent is over. The time of anticipation of the Incarnation has passed and the Savior has come.

Our sermon this Christmas eve was challenging the idea of putting away Christmas. Instead of putting away the powerful Incarnational God, embrace Him all year.

Pastor Hamilton told several stories, but my favorite was this one, about Healing House. About how Bobbi Jo found the transforming power of God, and upon release from prison just could not find a good spot to land to make the transition from criminal to citizen. At about that time, she came into an inheritance, and used it to buy and rehab an old building in the Gladstone/NE area of KCMO. Since that modest beginning, over 6 buildings are involved, and about 120 women and 30 men are ministered to in the name of Christ.
They do not forget their roots, or from where they have come: On holidays, like Christmas and Easter, they put together little ditty bags of essentials and give them to people still poor and out on the streets. Christmas 2010, a group were out doing this, driving one of the ministries full size vans around to various places known to be gathering areas for the homeless and down and out. After a bit, they needed gas and stopped at a c-store to get it. While they were fueling up, a KCPD patrol car stopped nearby. One cop got out to see what was what with this van load of mostly women running around during the holiday. When he got near the van, he looked inside, and his eyes widened. "You," he said, pointing at one woman, "We thought you were dead!" He looked some more: "And you too. We thought you were dead too!" He went back to the police car and got his partner: "You have to see this!" The two officers marveled at the transformations before them that day.
You see, when we become Christians we become new. The old has gone, the new has come! said Paul in Corinthians. This is not the kind of God we put in a box and take out only once or twice a year now is it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Wish

I was just reading my friend John's latest blog post about Christmas--he talked about not fretting quite so much over traditions and letting togetherness be the major theme of the holiday celebration. Activities together like dinner, and seeing a movie--spending time as a family together after all the razzle dazzle is done.
Here is my Christmas wish: that families be conscious of those who for whatever reason are not able to be with their families, whether the distance is physical or from family dysfunction. Yes, I know that Christmas is a big family holiday, and it is important to spend time together as a family, but if a family knows a single who will be alone, why not make that person a part of your celebration? Christmas day can be a very long day if you are alone, what with everything closed. After the family phone call, which may or may not be rewarding, that makes 15 hours and 30 minutes of the wake time of December 25 to deal with.
Trust me, that is a long time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jesus Jersey

There's been a bit of a flap over the creation of Denver Broncos jerseys bearing Tim Tebow's #15 but instead of Tebow's name on the back, it said "JESUS" there. At first I didn't know what to think, but when I thought about it more, it is the ultimate goal of a Christian to have Christ's name instead of our own. What do we say over and over, that we want to be like Jesus, right? When we become Christians, the Bible says we become "new creations in Christ" and Jesus Himself instructs us to "deny ourselves and pick up our cross." As we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and allow him to mold us, we stop looking quite so much like ourselves and more and more like Jesus Christ, God's Son.

So instead of our own identity on the back of our team jersey, it is the identity of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

I can deal with that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent: My Deliverer Is Coming

If I didn't believe, I think I would have fallen into an abyss...

And of course, purple...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why the Left Is Frequently Insufferable

From Adbusters Issue#99 Jan-Feb 2012 by Darren Fleet. The article takes a minute to find its footing, but basically it busts the left for being moralist, legalist busybodies without the idea of liberating itself from the same issues. The parallels that the author draws with Christianity particularly resonate with this Christian. It is hard to convince someone else about a value system if you, yourself, have not been transformed by that system. It is why Left commentators often seem so self righteous, and also ignorant, projecting wants and desires onto a government system that cannot, even on a good day, begin to satisfy them. It seems that no matter how hard we try, it keeps coming around that true change is an inside job.

Lefty arguments are fraught with asterisks, exceptions, caveats, considerations, footnotes, excuses and pie-in-the-sky moral posturing coded in a lexicon that most people don't even get. The right meanwhile is able to stand behind simplistic,strong and wrong optimism,cloaking itself with the grace of God and good intentions. The left is caught navel-gazing and obsessing over whether or not their actions are philosophically correct; stuttering, qualifying, apologizing, accommodating...whimpering along the way. The right meanwhile is going with its gut, shooting from the hip, smoking people out of their caves, straight talking...pick your conservative maxim. The reins of global power are in the hands of those who are able to symbolize a big idea, whatever that idea may be. The fortunes of the global left depend on whether or not they can take a stand on a big idea again. Zizek, Badiou, Hedges, Klein, Ranciere, Bifo, have all hinted at what the left has lost, but it's Jonathan Franzen who hammers the point home.
"Craving sex with her mate was one of the things (OK, the main thing) she'd given up in exchange for all the good things in their life together. Walter tried everything he could think of to make sex better for her except the one thing that might conceivably have worked, which was to stop worrying about making it better for her and just bend her over the kitchen table some night and have at her from behind. But the Walter who could have done this wouldn't have been Walter."
You might be wondering what does this have to do with the left? In asking, you, like me,and maybe all of us, highlight a common affliction we suffer--the creeping truth that activism has become a mask for spiritual and character rot. That maybe we have erected a progressive facade to cover the worst of denials, our animal. Sex has everything to do with the current state of things. It represents our most basic human desire and our most common trait of voluntary repression. If behind closed doors we cannot be free, what possibility do we have of offering anything to our world? This doesn't mean that you need to be an S&M character in order to be progressive, but it shows the point that for a message to be genuine it must come from a place of personal emancipation. Sincerity and liberation are addictive.The most successful entities in any society know this and use it to their advantage. Las Vegas was built upon the principle that if you build it they will come. And they did, making a multibillion dollar oasis in the desert. Las Vegas tells no lies. There is no delusion in traveling to Nevada's desolate plains and throwing your money away. You get what you pay for--a casino brothel under the baking sun. The sincerity is quantifiable. The potential for financial liberation, no matter how unlikely, is intoxicating. Likewise, if a movement has currency, sincerity, honesty and a hint of real liberation, people will come. Tahrir Square, London, Syria. Vancouver Stanley Cup riot. All sincere regardless of cause.
Australian author and environmentalist Clive Hamilton has been arguing for the past decade that the left has been floundering around like a bunch of whiny holier-than-thou beach bodies, screaming how to save the world without first having ensured that they too won't be sucked under the wave. The left make poor lifeguards is essentially what he means. They don't ensure their own safety-personal liberation--and are likely to be drowned by the victim they are trying to save--the converts.This is not an argument about hypocrisy, far from it. It is a psychological assessment of what Hamilton considers the savior complex endemic in the global left. A complex that has no currency without corresponding personal sincerity. Do this. Do that. Don't consume that. Buy this. We'll fight the corporation. Lets fight the right-wingers. A better world is possible. A cacophony of soft maxims supported by desperate bodies throwing their personal misgivings and unhappiness onto the altar of activism--the same impulse that drives entire populations into ethnic nationalism, religious conversion and other ubiquitous populist enterprises.
A Christian missionary in Thailand once told me that Buddhists don't hear what you say, they hear what you do. The villagers observed him and his family closely, how they treated each other, noting expressions of love, equality, respect, humility and modesty. The most important quality of all to them, he said, was whether he had a spiritual revelation manifest in an outpouring of personal joy. This caused great concern to his colleagues and despite several years of effort, they converted no one. He and his missionary friends were gloomy and homesick. They offered a new system to the Thai villagers, but not a new way of being. That is where, as Hamilton argues, the left is today. A system without a soul. A people in denial. An obsession looking for a cause. A mass of people looking outward when they should be looking in.
We have all seen it. Maybe we are even these archetypes ourselves. The close-minded open-minded person. Well versed in emancipation and cutting edge lefty rhetoric but altogether intolerable, anal, pedantic, arrogant, rude and fully convinced they know what is best for society. Or the idealist who hops from cause to cause, virulently condemning a belief they wholeheartedly embraced only a short time ago, trying to convert you to direct your energy toward the latest paradigm. Or the usual suspect protesters manifesting a collective oppositional defiance disorder against anything and anyone representing vague concepts of power. Their own lives might be in shambles, without spiritual relief, entirely unable to define their action beyond a sentence,but that does not matter to their leaders. What has become tantamount in activism today is collective, organized action, however weak,regardless of the motivation or the emotional/spiritual source of that action. The left must have more to offer than this. It needs the righteous confidence of the right without the pride and arrogance . It needs the confidence of Evangelicals and the commitment of Islamist without the delusion and apologetics. It needs emancipation. It needs a new found spiritualism that places a premium on personal enlightenment and monasticism. It needs, in a word, liberation.
All the great religions talk about liberating the self first and how only out of that emancipation can goodness flow. Defiled, this principle becomes the blasphemous health-and-wealth evangelical doctrines sweeping Nigeria, South Korea, Holland and the United States. Undefiled, it is the key that unlocks paradise. In the gospel of John, Christ encourages his disciples, saying people will know you are Christians by your love for one another. His early disciples were afraid and isolated, living under Rome's heavy hand. To make converts they had to show in their joy that the belief was worth emulating. In Islam, Jihad, the struggle against desire and sin within oneself, is the primary task of the spiritual journey. Observed as intended, Jihad goes hand in hand with the bigger idea that if everyone just focused on being a "good" Muslim, being themselves, the law would wither away and society itself would become the creation of each inhabitants' revelation. Buddhism's all-suffering-comes-from-desire equally focuses on righting the self. Without enlightenment, the Buddha insisted, one was destined to replicate the errors of the past regardless of the goodness of intentions. The Dali Lama's modern musing, world peace through inner peace, is the greatest political assertion of this principle.
A wedge has been driven between politics and personal emancipation. Activism has been drained of its mysticism and reduced to a sterile rational prop, a blank slate upon which protesters trace their wants and desires--demands impossible for even the most benevolent and wealthy state to deliver. And despite its futile and Sisyphean character, this is still where the bulk of the left in the West finds itself today. Infinite causes, grandiose ideals...and miserable lives. Perhaps it is time to reverse the paradigm and reconsider what was thrown out with religion long ago--liberation of your animal soul.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Price of Civilization

I have long maintained that part of what ails America is that corporations have become far too stakeholder and profit driven. Who cares how it came about, as long as the bottom line is in the black? This ends up driving an amoral quest for profit--profit at the cost of people. Do we want to love people and use things or love things and use people? Corporations these days, I think, have long lost the desire to pay the price of civilization. An excerpt from The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey D. Sachs captures much of this idea.

At the root of America's economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America's political and economic elite. A society of markets, laws, and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion toward the rest of society and towards the world. America has developed the world's most competitive market society but has squandered its civic virtue along the way. Without restoring an ethos of social responsibility, there can be no meaningful and sustained economic recovery.

I find myself deeply surprised and unnerved to have to write this book. During most of my forty years in economics I have assumed that America, with its great wealth, depth of learning, advanced technologies, and democratic institutions, would reliably find its way to social betterment. I decided early on in my career to devote my energies to the economic challenges abroad, where I felt the economic problems were more acute and in need of attention. Now I am worried about my own country. The economic crisis of recent years reflects a deep, threatening, and ongoing deterioration of our national politics and culture of power.

The crisis, I will argue, developed gradually over the course of several decades. We are not facing a short term business cycle downturn, but the working out of long-term social, political, and economic trends. The crisis, in many ways, is the culmination of an era--the baby boomer era--rather than of particular policies or presidents. It is also a bipartisan affair; both Democrats and Republicans have played their part in deepening the crisis. On many days it seems that the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Big Oil owns the Republicans while Wall Street owns the Democrats. By understanding the deep roots of the crisis, we can move beyond illusory solutions such as the "stimulus" spending of 2009-2010, the budget cuts of 2011, and the unaffordable tax cuts that are implemented year after year. These are gimmicks that distract us from the deeper reforms needed in our society.

The first two years of the Obama presidency show that our economic and political failings are deeper than that of a particular president. Like many Americans, I looked to Barack Obama as the hope for a breakthrough. Change was on the way, or so we hoped; yet there has been far more continuity than change. Obama has continued down the well trodden path of open-ended war in Afghanistan, massive military budgets, kowtowing to lobbyists, stingy foreign aid, unaffordable tax cuts, unprecedented budget deficits, and a disquieting unwillingness to address the deeper causes of America's problems. The administration is packed with individuals passing through the revolving door that connects Wall Street and the White House. In order to find deep solutions to America's economic crisis, we'll need to understand why the American political system has proven to be so resistant to change.

The American economy increasingly serves only a narrow part of society, and America's national politics has failed to put the country back on track through honest, open, and transparent problem solving. Too many of America's elites--among the super-rich, the CEOs, and many of my colleagues in academia--have abandoned a commitment to social responsibility. They chase wealth and power, the rest of society be damned.

We need to re conceive the idea of a good society in the early twenty-first century and to find a creative path toward it. Most important, we need to be ready to pay the price of civilization through multiple acts of good citizenship: bearing our fair share of taxes, educating ourselves deeply about society's needs, acting as vigilant stewards for future generations, and remembering that compassion is the glue that holds society together. I would suggest that a majority of the public understands this challenge and accepts it. During my research for this book, I became reacquainted with my fellow Americans, not only through countless discussions but also through hundreds of opinion surveys on, and studies of, American values. I was delighted with what I found. Americans are very different from the ways the elites and the media pundits want us to see ourselves. The American people are generally broad-minded, moderate, and generous. These are not the images of Americans we see on television or the adjectives that come to mind when we think of America's rich and powerful elite. But America's political institutions have broken down, so that the broad public no longer holds these elites to account. And alas, the breakdown of politics also implicates the broad public. American society is too deeply distracted by our media-drenched consumerism to maintain the habits of effective citizenship.

"The unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates. We might equally say that the unexamined economy is not capable of securing our well-being. Our greatest national illusion is that a healthy society can be organized around the single minded pursuit of wealth. The ferocity of the quest for wealth throughout society has left Americans exhausted and deprived of the benefits of social trust, honesty and compassion. Our society has turned harsh, with the elites on Wall Street, in Big Oil, and in Washington among the most irresponsible and selfish all. When we understand this reality, we can begin to refashion our economy.

Two of humanity's greatest sages, Buddha in the Eastern tradition and Aristotle in the Western tradition, counseled us wisely about humanity's innate tendency to chase transient illusions rather than to keep our minds and lives focused on deeper, longer-term sources of well-being. Both urged us to keep to a middle path, to cultivate moderation and virtue in our personal behavior and attitudes despite the allure of extremes. Both urged us to look after our personal needs without forgetting our compassion towards others in society. Both cautioned that the single-minded pursuit of wealth and consumption leads to addictions and compulsions rather than to happiness and the virtues of a life well lived. Throughout the ages, other great sages, from Confucius to Adam Smith to Mahatma Gandhi and the Dali Lama, have joined the call for moderation and compassion as the pillars of a good society.

To resist the excesses of consumerism and the obsessive pursuit of wealth is hard work, a lifetime challenge. To do so in our media age, filled with noise, distraction, and temptation, is a special challenge. We can escape our current economic illusions by creating a mindful society, one that promotes the personal virtues of self-awareness and moderation, and the civic virtues of compassion for others and the ability to cooperate across the divides of class, race, religion, and geography. Through a return to personal and civic virtue, our prosperity can be regained.

It is not perfect; for some reason Mr. Sachs resists Jesus Christ as one of his sages. I think it is because Jesus Christ also asks for internal transformation and commitment. Your treatment of others flows naturally out of the love that God has placed in your heart via his forgiveness, grace and love. We have lost something in our country, however, and to at least acknowledge that loss is an important start.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We Bring The Sacrifice of Praise

This old praise song came to me while we were discussing the old testament sacrificial system. We no longer bring sacrifices of goats or cattle or doves. We just need to bring the sacrifice of our praise.

The song came back to me in bits--I hmm'ed and sang my way to remembering the whole thing in time--correctly even!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What To Do

Last week I got in a bit of a shout out with two Thursday evening buds. They were pressing me about jobs and that fed into the worthless/defective/fearful-of-rejection thing and I reacted with cursing anger. I felt a bit attacked and given that "oh just get over yourself" stuff that is more irritating than anything else. I should have just smiled, said "thanks." and gone on my way. No I felt attacked and so I responded that way. I talked it out with S. and felt a little better. I also did some small action steps this week that helped too.
Now while both P and C were definitely engaged in somewhat codependent fixing behavior, I was wrong in responding with so much anger. Do I need to make amends by apologizing or do they need to realize that they were trying to control and fix? I don't think I can try to do them both at the same time because it takes away from the sincerity of the apology to offer a criticism of their behavior. Yet it would be good for them to know that while their hearts were in the right place, their techniques left something to be desired.
I was all set to apologize tonight in writing but I forgot to follow through. So I figured I'd do it tonight in person. Well C. wasn't there and my first thought was that it was on account of our conversation and I felt responsible for that. And as soon as P. was near me to talk she started asking me what action I took and something else which sounded like more fixing--I ignored it. And I was like, is my saying sorry for reacting to fixing the most useful thing to do? So I held my tongue with the apology.
As I say, a problem.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Turn Around

The latest from Matt Maher

Serious breakdown last week--so weird while I am working on trying to find God's will for my life. Tempest is moving and her paid part time staff position is open. I don't really have enough computer for it, but I think I will write up a resume and give it a shot. it is more administrative then ministerial, but you just never know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Wonderous Love Is This

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

Isaiah 59 NIV

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken falsely,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice;
no one pleads a case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
and spin a spider’s web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are evil deeds,
and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin;
they are swift to shed innocent blood.
They pursue evil schemes;
acts of violence mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know;
there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
no one who walks along them will know peace.

9 So justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead.
11 We all growl like bears;
we moan mournfully like doves.
We look for justice, but find none;
for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For our offenses are many in your sight,
and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
and we acknowledge our iniquities:
13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD,
turning our backs on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
18 According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.
19 From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the LORD drives along.[a]

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the LORD.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Your Great Name

Worship--expressing homage, honor, to bow down, to acknowledge power and greatness.

We are called to worship our creator, redeemer and sustainer...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lost and Loss

Lower Manhattan, 1972 or 1973, either spring or fall, cloudy windy day--that is why there is hardly any contrast--it would have had to have been conjured up in the dark room. From the ferry out to the island in New York harbor where the Statue of Liberty stands.

I was a New Yorker, born a New Yorker, might still be a New Yorker, and at bottom I have to say that they did attack my city--I don't think it would have as deep a resonance if it was LA. I watched these towers go up, and the terrorists mugged them in front of the whole world.

It certainly didn't help that my personal world would go all to hell in about 50 days after this event...

So much loss from 2000 to 2008, so much hurt, so much stress, so hard in so many ways...

Have I processed it all? Not sure. Have I taken care of all the sequelae? Not by a long shot.


Open up the skies of mercy and rain down the cleansing flood...

Take Heart

Appropriate, I think...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Holiness Unto The Lord

I was considering the symbol of the Church of the Nazarene--it has the words, "Holiness unto the Lord " on it. This is still something I take pretty seriously, to live holy, like Jesus.

This hymn is pretty much the denominational hymn for the Nazarene church:

Holiness Unto The Lord

Lyrics and Music: Leila N. Morris

“Called unto holiness,” church of our God,
Purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood;
Called from the world and its idols to flee,
Called from the bondage of sin to be free.

“Holiness unto the Lord” is our watchword and song.
“Holiness unto the Lord” as we’re marching along.
Sing it, shout it, loud and long,
“Holiness unto the Lord,” now and forever.

“Called unto holiness,” children of light,
Walking with Jesus in garments of white;
Raiment unsullied, nor tarnished with sin;
God’s Holy Spirit abiding within.

“Called unto holiness,” praise His dear Name!
This blessed secret to faith now made plain:
Not our own righteousness, but Christ within,
Living, and reigning, and saving from sin.

“Called unto holiness,” bride of the Lamb,
Waiting the Bridegroom’s returning again!
Lift up your heads, for the day draweth near
When in His beauty the King shall appear.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Family Rules

We could do worse than to follow these rules at church. Maybe signs like this in the narthex, visible just as you enter?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus to the disciples as recorded in John 13:34-35 NIV

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Little Scared...

Struggling a little not to be really fearful about the future of things...both personally and for my country, state, city....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

After the Battle

A moment of rest, after hard earned victory. Note however, that the weapon is not far away.

Image is a snip from a video--I google searched battles on hills and found that "Hamburger Hill" gave some appropriate results!

Random Rumblings of a Low and Restless Heart and Mind

Well, let's see how far this gets because I am having key board trouble again. I have the rubber keyboard stretched out to my right and I hit keys as I need them, like a keyboard player.

Mood: Low. For sure.

First, too damn hot! Crap hot! Way too fucking hot (Pat, I'd like to buy an h). The electric company visited me and the neighbor. They allowed as they wouldn't turn anyone off during the awful heat. I paid my bill ($242 through August 1), but I don't know about them. I think their gas is still off.

Second, employment and taxes. I don't know which is worse. I think taxes. While job apps are intimidating, tax crap is worse. I need help and everyone offers phone numbers. No one seems to want to introduce personally anymore. I hate the pone for this! Remember when the EAP person had to call Kaiser for me that first time to contact a psychiatrist for me? This is the same thing--shame and humiliation for needing the help, fear of being rejected, or worse, used and taken advantage of and ending up getting taken, both by the helper and IRS/DOR.

I forgot to mention: Missouri has tied the nursing license to tax debt. So I can't even job hunt in Mo. Topeka has not been heard from since I sent the full document to them back in May so I have no idea what is going on there. I have no idea how to job hunt for a non-nursing job.

I don't need a lot of money or hours. I've broke down my basic expenses six ways to sunday and I can tell you that if I make $120-$150 a week I can support myself. I wouldn't be able to save much of anything, but I could leave my savings alone for a little while.

Thirdly, getting very pessimistic about our country and world. Sin every where--just too much. If you think it happens somewhere else it happens every where. Right here in KC--some kittens had to be rescued from some kids who were killing animals. Beyond rescuing two cute kittens, the neighbors were too afraid to do more. I swear, people who are "nice" are going to end up having to take up violent opposition to those who are not nice, who are evil. We will have to defend the weak and helpless, not with words, not with bread but with guns. Is it OK to stand up to evil with strength of that nature? Does God honor that?

I think our standard of living will go down. Oh, I forgot about this, but Rush went on the most interesting rant today. He said that our "standard of living" was all built on debt. Our poverty, which looks like no other country's poverty is all an illusion, built on debt. People really couldn't afford how they were living. All those McMansions out there in southern Overland Park and Leawood--can you really afford that? It is amazing how you can use credit to build a house of cards--and one hiccup can cause the thing to fall. One thing I can say about all my junk: It's all mine. Car, house, crap, cats: I own it all outright. (Except for Jeff City's lien...)

Finally, back to the big world again. The coursing of our culture. It's funny to go home to Vermont and see all the White kids running around with baggy pants and straight brims on their ball caps. It vies with the A and F crowd, with the tight caps with bent brims, tight pants or baggy cargos. Women wearing tight shirts that show every roll, and skirts/shorts that are far too short and neck lines that dip far too low. And tattoos--every where, including the ubiquitous "tramp stamp' which may now be so ubiquitous that it is no longer trampy.

Worse than everyone's dress is everyone's self centered tendencies--the entitlement culture and the center of the universe culture. On Drudge there was a link about how a lady is being charged with assault because she tapped a guy on the shoulder in order to get his attention so she could speak to him about texting in a movie theater. He whines and says he hurt his neck--she says he whipped around so hard and fast that his reaction is what injured him! Stupid!

Well, this has been good, to get this out. I know that I am going to have to confront the tax demon--I just need to confront my reluctance to ask for help first. I need someone willing to do a little hand holding. Once I start building some kind of relationship I am OK. The action point is closer now then it was when I started writing this drivel. Now, my job is to keep pushing it and pushing it until it results in action, and at least to hold the point, hold the ground that has been won with hard work and fighting.

This hill is mine, I earned it, me and God, and we are not giving it up without a fight!!!

Photo is from the movie about the Vietnam battle over Hill 937 in 1969--one of the bloodiest battles in the Vietnam war.


There might be a clue in this photo--but then again, it could just be a photo of interesting graphics juxtaposed together...

I am a good secret keeper and can be trusted with sensitive info.

I have a secret.

It'll come out soon enough, and when it does...oh boy.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Confession of the Day

I'm trying really hard not to but I really sometimes have a hard time not envying all the money some folks at church have.

I know better, and I count my own blessings, many of which have nothing to do with money. I know that, even in my current situation, some who have money in buckets envy me.

I'll take a bucket of money if you want to spare it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Worship Leaders Conference

It's been a long time since I've been to a conference geared to ministers.

It was a complete blast to go to the worship leaders conference and really decide to be there, like in the morning, before the workshops and basically be there all day.

A privilege. Everyone kept saying I was a great volunteer, but the bits of service I gave seemed paltry in comparison to what I received.

Sign me up for next year. Of course, this will also be the hottest weather week in Kansas City. There's grass in between the buildings that is done for the year....

Oh, and I found a pair of drum sticks. They are in the car. The steering wheel makes a nice thump when you hit it with a drum stick.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Still Procrastinating

Still haven't email back--might not happen tonight either as the key board driver is really acting up in the heat.

You dont know ow many h's you use until tey stop workin...

Monday, July 11, 2011

E Mail From Mom

So mom sends an email:
What's new? Have not heard from you in months. Want to visit? Got a job? What are you up to? How are the cats? Do you hear from Kathie? Mom
Most would find this pretty innocent stuff, friendly inquiry, how ya doing.
I just hear the echo of my own inadequacy and failure--I hear having to justify myself to her, I hear her judgment, I hear her condemning me as incompetent.

I feel absolutely nuts about this. She is not a soft place to land and I know that, but am I just reading way too much in this?

But I know that I fall short of her expectations. (Hell, I fall short of my own expectations!) I am scared of her judgment--I don't feel supported but condemned when she asks about jobs etc.

I don't know how to respond to the email. Help.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Simplicity, Part 1 at least

I was wandering around the blogosphere, just clicking links from Observer and from TKC and clicking more links and you know, wasting time on the internet. (Some play games, I read stuff and look at pictures. Shrug.)

All this is to say I came across some links talking about taking up living simply and without such a dependence on material goods coming in. I have been confronting exactly how much stuff I have and how much is duplicated and I could live with less. I mean really, if you have water to wash with, you only need one of everything appropriate to the climate and occasion. When it gets dirty, you wash it. Two would be nice, because then you could know for sure you will always have one ready, and it would reduce wear and tear to rotate. OK, two of everything.

If we all did this, the economy would be toast. Our economy is built on consuming stuff. We support each other by buying and selling stuff. Our whole economy would have to shift.

Now some believe (and it must be noted that I am "live blogging" here and this is not a forensic argument) that this inevitable as resources dwindle. We will all end up with a greatly lowered standard of living.

What is standard of living? Each has something that they feel is important to standard of living. In most cultures, a single person living in a free standing house alone would be unheard of, riches beyond most people's reach. Yet, just on my street there are two of us.

Standard of living that is essential: Sanitary sewer, clean water, available housing, safe food, adequate personal cover.

Not finished, but finished for now. So what does this have to do with Spiritual Formation you ask? We'll get there I hope!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flash Back: Whiteheart

I've been listening to some of the old Christian music--found some mix tapes while cleaning. Some things are just as fresh and good as anything today, and some feel dated--musically or to my maturity level. You Tube has many of the tunes in a video setting. I'd forgot about this one until I saw it today.

There are times I feel very unworthy of the flame that has been passed to me by the likes of John Wesley, Phineas Bresee and Fred K. This is when it is good to remember that we are not saved by the works we do but by that in which we put our faith...God and His Son Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comment: On Changing Churches

I wrote a long comment in response to Andrew Conard at the Rez on line blog when he wrote about changing churches. Not that I haven't written about that before, but his entry and the other comments gave me some new vocabulary to use that I liked and ran with:

How can I answer this and keep it short? I think I wrote at least 2 blog/journal entries on this while considering changing my membership to CoR! I agree with Amy above that church membership is more than gym membership. I did stick it out with my former church even when things were not comfortable. However, if the relationship is not nourishing, in the end it will die, as my relationship with that institutional church (though not with the people of that church) eventually did. Now that death was both our faults (to use divorce language) but dead was dead. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my lack of attendance in a Christian community, I did not look to returning to that church (even though there had been a pastoral change in the interim) as one of my realistic options. Further proof of how seriously I take church membership is the fact that I attended CoR for 16 months before moving my membership from my former church. (You all stuck with me now, hehe.) One bit of counsel I would offer those considering changing churches--don't make your decisions in high emotional states, either good or bad. When I started at CoR, it was a spiritual high for me to just be back in Christian community. It was good for me to wait a little before actually moving my "paper" to CoR. I would not make a decision to leave a fellowship while angry, miffed or whatever either. Just a few cents worth from an (over)educated layperson.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Errors and Failure, Again

I've thought a lot about failure lately, since I am very good(bad) at it. This article about a nurse in Seattle committing suicide after she made a med error got my attention. Not just that she's 50, or had been in trouble with the powers that be at her institution (who sacked her after the mistake, which she self reported) but just the whole idea that she was at a loss as to what to do, that so much of her identity had been tied up in being a nurse.

Most health care professionals will take themselves apart after making a mistake--they'll go over it over and over, and change the way they do things. Institutions rarely have to punish one mistake--it's only patterns attached to one person that they have to pay attention to--but they often do.

Intimidating Dr. R. helped me with mistakes. I gave one of his patients one of the older oral antidiabetics at 2100 one evening--I just misread the MAR--my eyes skipped over a line. I called him with much fear and trepidation--OMG he is going to rip me--but he was relaxed--just asked that I be sure to write out an incident report and do an extra blood sugar check during the night. The patient didn't turn a hair during my shift and I never heard another thing about it. Meantime, I changed the way I read and handled the MAR and never made a similar mistake again. In fact the only other med error that comes to my mind is one time I gave a one time dose on the wrong day--thus causing me to make a new routine of writing the date on my "notes/brain" for both the evening and night of a 12 hour shift (19-07 or 20-08). Because of my earlier experience I had no trouble reporting the error--thankfully, it was a fairly benign drug--and there were no further problems.

Some drugs just require more vigilance. Ca++ and K+ because you can kill someone with them straight up. Heparin--because of bleeding going out of control. Insulin--because you can kill someone with it. This mistake was a decimal error--a power of 10. Pediatrics is full of this stuff. As time consuming as it is, you must double check your work. If an answer makes no sense, stop and do it again. That goes for letting a machine do your math. Rough out the equation for the x/kg/hour drugs--make sure the machine makes sense. Tables help with this--just recently I ran across my tables for NTG and such from HMW. Keepin' em. They are useful even if they are old as long as the concentrations match. And even if they don't completely, they help with that "sense" thing.

I feel this lady's sense of displacement--what are you when you are a health care professional in disgrace? You have all this good stuff in your head, and all the caring, and all the wanting the challenges, etc. etc. but no place to put it.

(Had to stop there...that's close to the bone.)

The Seattle nurse's mom, also a nurse (retired): "She ran out of coping skills."

Heartbreaking...and preciously close to the bone. Not being perfect should not run an otherwise competent person out of their chosen profession...

12 (or so) Questions

The Star printed an article that basically outlined the questions you might hear in a job interview; I thought they were pretty challenging. I've answered some of these, and have no answers for others.

Why should we give this job to you rather than another who is equally qualified?

Why do you want to work for our company?

What do you think determines a person’s progress within a company?

Would these questions rattle you if they were thrown at you in a job interview? If so, you need to think beyond preparing your 30-second — or two-minute — summary about your skills and interests.

Being able to concisely and clearly cite your credentials is exceedingly important in formal job interviews, in professional association meetings and in social situations where you’re doing some networking.

But a recent “speed interviewing” event sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management of Johnson County showed that many job interviewers would press you for far more than your qualifications.

What are your feelings about working overtime?

What interests you about our products (or services)?

How would you describe your ideal job?

It’s pretty easy to see that your answers to those questions could open the trap door beneath your feet.

Skilled interviewers will ask such open-ended questions to get at what makes you tick, to probe your personality, your work ethic and other hard-to-quantify traits.

What two accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?

Have you ever had troubles with other people on the job?

Do you feel you did the best work at school that you were capable of doing?

Job hunters and applicants for promotions need to be prepared for those landmine questions. Think ahead of time about how you’d answer them.

Hirers look for workers who seem to be both self-starters and good team players. They want to see a strong work ethic. They want adaptable, flexible folk. They want to see confidence, not boasting.

And they want a good answer to the key question:

What can you do for us?

Read more:
I might work my way through this list, trying to answer each one. Shoot, if they read it here, they won't be so shocked when I say it at the interview!

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Can I Do?

This is a very simple song, but it asks a very profound question. What is my response to Jesus Christ?

Did I mention it was a tad bit dangerous too?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pentecost: The Holy Spirit Comes

28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the LORD has said,
even among the survivors
whom the LORD calls.
Joel 2:28-32 NIV

And so the blog turns red, in honor of the tongues that came to rest on the disciples' heads. (See Acts 2)

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Not Only Believe It, I'd Stake My Life On It

That's a "Hamilton-ism"--he says it with regard to the Resurrection. I applied it last night to the idea of the Holy Spirit changing us to our inner core--yes, HOLINESS.

Scratch this newly minted United Methodist too hard and you find a Nazarene, a person committed to the idea that the Full Gospel includes the idea that the Holy Spirit works in the yielded heart to make a person look and act more and more like Christ.

It's funny, but since starting to attend a United Methodist church, I have come to appreciate this core doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene even more, as well as the wesleyan way of thinking and dealing with information. I am frequently thankful that I did not get saved in a Baptist church--I think the many places where Baptists are inflexible, and the rule against women in ministry would have annoyed me enough that I would have stepped on toes and it would have gotten unpleasant.

Joel 2 comes to mind especially this part--God is speaking through the prophet:
And afterward I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit on those days. (vv. 28-9 NIV)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wonder Where They Are Now?

Found this LP at a thrift store...

Here are the inmates who sang and played on this gospel record...

Cell phone picture isn't very clear but even so the styles of the late 1960s and early 1970s are in evidence...
Here they are posing outside the cell blocks.

The recording studio seems to have been in the Caves up north of Truman Road. I wonder if anyone still has a studio there now.

I pray all these guys maintained a healthy faith in Christ and all those eligible to get out did and moved on to have productive lives. They would be in their 60s and 70s now most likely. For those serving terms of "natural life," I pray they were able to be a example, witness and mentor to other inmates.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Go Away!

This is going to be short, sweet, to the point and passionate.

Atheists--go find someplace else other than the comment section of news articles and photo essays about the tornado in Joplin to push your arrogant agenda. Your put downs and rudeness do absolutely nothing to help anyone.

You regularly object to calls to prayer or posters who state they are praying for the folks in Joplin and you mock God as you ask questions. You say prayer is doing nothing. So what is your mocking doing? Has that given anyone a drink of water lately?

I respect your right to question God, prayer, providence and all that. News forums, however, are not the best place to do it, especially when you are rude and stand behind your anonymous internet selves. Go down to your local coffee house, or better yet, a house of worship and ask your questions in person, under your own name.

If you really want to be of service, instead of spending time trying to dissuade people of "superstitious faith", go give to the charity of your choice that will help the people affected by the violent weather of the past weeks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ritual: Church of the Nazarene Communion


The administration of the Lord’s Supper may be introduced by an appropriate sermon and the reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Luke 22:14-20, or some other suitable passage. Let the minister then give the following invitation:
The Lord himself ordained this holy sacrament. He commanded His disciples to partake of the bread and wine, emblems of His broken body and shed blood. This is His table. The feast is for
His disciples. Let all those who have with true repentance forsaken their sins, and have believed in Christ unto salvation, draw near and take these emblems, and, by faith, partake of the life of Jesus Christ, to your soul’s comfort and joy. Let us remember that it is the memorial of the death and passion of our Lord; also a token of His coming again. Let us not forget that we are one, at one table with the Lord.
The minister may offer a prayer of confession and supplication, concluding with the following prayer of consecration:
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who out of Your tender mercy gave Your only Son, Jesus
Christ, to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption: hear us, we most humbly beseech You. Grant that, as we receive these Your creatures of bread and wine according to the holy institution of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in remembrance of His passion and death, we may be made partakers of the benefits of His atoning sacrifice. We are reminded that in the same night that our Lord was betrayed, He took bread and, when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” May we come before You in true humility and faith as we partake of this holy sacrament. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then may the minister, partaking first, with the assistance of any other ministers present, and when necessary, of the stewards, administer the Communion to the people. While the bread is being distributed, let the minister say:
The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto
everlasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.
As the cup is being passed, let the minister say:
The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto everlasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.
After all have partaken, the minister may then offer a concluding prayer of thanksgiving and commitment.

(Italics added for ease of comprehension. From the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene 2009-2013. The Manual is published every four years in a new version after General Assembly by the Nazarene Publishing House.)

This is the ritual I sat under for the Lord's Supper for about 25 years. Even sitting in a United Methodist church where the spoken phrases are different, these words ring in my head. I heard them uttered by at least four different pastors, plus those at seminary who led us in Holy Communion. When Pastor Hamilton lifts up the loaf at CoR I think of those words: ...the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you...

I am always amazed that Christ's body was broken for ME.

I always find Communion to be a very special time of worship. I am careful to never be casual about it. No matter what your particular theology of communion is, it is important to never take sitting at the Lord's Table for granted or as something routine. "The Lord Himself ordained this holy sacrament..."

Monday, May 16, 2011


I can't go into detail but God was working and leading in a most remarkable way not long ago.

I often agonise over how to share Christian faith. Being one who came to faith in an evangelical denomination, the importance of sharing one's faith and carrying out the mission of telling the world about Jesus was put front and center.

As I have matured as a Christ follower I have come to the conclusion that for the majority of people they are far better off thinking about sharing faith by doing and considering these three things:

1. Model: Witness--not lawyer. You are telling what has happened to you---what Christ has done for you, not arguing for Him. The Holy Spirit will guide you through the sticky spots, but preparation for the task of witnessing is not a bad thing. Which leads us to...

2. Be ready. "Be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within you" a paraphrase of 1 Peter 3:15. Know your Bible well enough that if you can't remember it, you can find it. Read an apologetics book or two--there are lots of them out there. Talk with friends who you know to be non- and nominal believers about spiritual things if they are willing, not trying to "convert" them--just listen! Know what your church offers and be ready to speak well of what your church community is good at or can do well. And remember the last part of Paul's instruction to Timothy--do it with "gentleness and respect." (NIV) This leads to the last point...

3. Live like Christ. Show the Fruits of the Spirit. Maybe this is just on my mind because we are having a sermon series on it right now, but if you live in a way that looks like Christ, people will wonder why and how and all that. When people ask, be a witness, just tell your story, naturally, like you would tell any story!

I would also add be humble, honest and authentic. Point to God not yourself, your pastor or your church.

So a conversation--a chance remark leads to a mention of a ministry, which leads to a exchange of info which leads to just never know how the Spirit will move or how He will guide! I was so blessed! :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yellow "Til June

Now I did not know that! I thought we would go back to green.

The colors of yellow/white are used in the church until Pentecost Sunday, when we have red. (We love red here at the SKC Observer syndicate.) Depending on which faith tradition you are following you can have red again the next Sunday or go back to the gold/white of Eastertide. Then it's the green of ordinary time until October/November.

So for this year, Pentecost Sunday is June 12, 2011.

Ordinary time then sets in, starting Sunday, June 26th and running clear to the beginning of Advent, the first Sunday of which is November 27th. You can do something for All Saints Day around November 1 if you want.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden's Death

I just couldn't work up a lot of emotion about the death of Osama bin Laden Sunday night. Yeah, I'm glad we got the SOB. Not in a vengeful way, but in a "Yes!" kind of way, like the way Marv Albert narrates a successful basketball shot.

There was, however, dancing in the street which took me by surprise, as well as some of the strong emotions of revenge that some voiced. The debate emerged on Adam Hamilton's FB page, and more surprisingly, on TKC. Now we know Tony to be a shit stirrer of the finest kind, but it was an honest question he asked about people's response to the event of bin Laden's death. He got the predictable mix of thoughtful and inane comments. It was interesting to see the discussion, especially after reading the 50+ comments from Pastor Hamilton's post. Tony ended up with 58 comments.

One thing: War on Terror: Ain't over by a long shot. Totally different world than in 2001, especially with what went on in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. etc.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:1-31 NIV

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday 2

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 NIV

Good Friday I

A day late...but better late than never.

I still am taken by the "day in between" the crucifixion and the resurrection. For the disciples, observant Jews, it was the Sabbath. There was no running around getting new outfits, or even doing chores like cutting the lawn. It was a day of rest and because of that there was no hiding the fear behind busy-ness. Many had fled, or hid behind locked doors. Jesus was dead, and there was nothing but fear and terror, wondering if they were next...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rockin' Resume!

Maybe I ought to try and write a ballsy resume like this one--especially after tax time and license renewals which both make me feel like a procrastinating fool.

I Hate Tax Season!

All my creativity is sucked out of me. All I can think about is the total mess of taxes surrounding me. There could be a problem with my MO RN concerning the insanity of the issue of 2007 taxes. As for this year, regretfully, doing an extension, since I can not figure out the capital gain from the stock sale, as the basis is still buried in the garage. I can't even guess what, if any, tax liability I have. I am thankful that 2010 cap gain is still Bush 43 low however. God, this is a mess--and way, way over my pay grade.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Funky Friday

This is the third Friday in a row I've found myself in a funk. Maybe it is Fridays?

For most people, Friday is the end of the work week, a chance to kick back and do what you want to do. For me, I think Friday has come to mean the end of another week that I didn't do enough, that ends without me having finished everything I wanted to finish, another week ending with me not having a job, or solved any of the 29 problems facing me.

Friday is the end of the business week, the end of the chances to make good on all the promises I make to myself to "do better."

Maybe I need to take what I got done, and be pleased and look to improve on things every week instead of beating myself up because it was less than perfect?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Spectrum of Reasons for Failure

Observer introduction: I saw this is the Harvard Business Review. I really like it. I think there is a lot of truth here. It looks at reasons for failure with regard to blame and blaming an individual or group. Not all failure is created equal. This realization, along with removing a culture of fear to me is key to management of failure in a productive way. First, a bit of background from the article:

Failure and fault are virtually inseparable in most households, organizations, and cultures. Every child learns at some point that admitting failure means taking the blame. That is why so few organizations have shifted to a culture of psychological safety in which the rewards of learning from failure can be fully realized.
Executives I've interviewed in organizations as different as hospitals and investment banks admit to being torn: How can they respond constructively to failures without giving rise to an anything-goes attitude? If people aren't blamed for failures, what will ensure that they try as hard as possible to do their best work?
This concern is based on a false dichotomy. In actuality, a culture that makes it safe to admit and report a failure can--and in some organizational contexts must--coexist with high standards for performance. To understand why, look at the exhibit "A Spectrum of Reasons for Failure" [I reproduce it below], which lists cause ranging from deliberate deviation to thoughtful experimentation.
Which of these causes involve blameworthy actions? Deliberate deviance, first on the list, obviously warrants blame. But inattention might not. If it results from a lack of effort, perhaps it's blameworthy. But if it results from fatigue near the end of an overly long shift, the manager who assigned the shift is more at fault than the employee. As we go down the list, it gets more and more difficult to find blameworthy acts. In fact, a failure resulting from thoughtful experimentation that generates valuable information may actually be praiseworthy.
When I ask executives to consider this spectrum and them to estimate how many of the failures in their organizations are truly blameworthy, their answers are usually in single digits--perhaps 2% to 5%. But when I ask how many are treated as blameworthy, they say (after a pause or laugh) 70% to 90%. The unfortunate consequence is that many failures go unreported and their lessons are lost.

The Spectrum of Reasons for Failure
Top--Most Blameworthy, moving towards more Praiseworthy.

Deviance: An individual chooses to violate a prescribed process or practice.

Inattention: An individual inadvertently deviates from specifications

Lack of Ability: An individual doesn't have the skills, conditions, or training to execute a job.

Process Inadequacy: A competent individual adheres to prescribed but faulty or incomplete process.

Task Challenge: An individual faces a task too difficult to be executed reliably every time.

Process Complexity: A process composed of many elements breaks down when it encounters novel interactions.

Uncertainty: A lack of clarity about future events causes people to take seemingly reasonable actions that produce undesirable results.

Hypothesis Testing: An experiment conducted to prove that an idea or a design will succeed fails.

Exploratory Testing: An experiment conducted to expand knowledge and investigate a possibility leads to an undesired result.

Observer commentary: This has a lot of applications in a lot of settings: workplace, government, personal life. It is not about creating an environment where excellence is not the goal or routinely expected, or shirking responsibility for one's part when failure occurs. It is about creating a positive and encouraging environment where failure is not covered up, but opened up, and is seen, not as something to punish but something to learn from.

Reference: Amy C. Edmondson "Strategies for Learning From Failure" Harvard Business Review 89:4 April 2011 pp. 48-55.

I like what I wrote when I put this as a note on Facebook:
I think this piece has something to say to those of us who struggle with feelings of failure and being inadequate to cope. Not all failures require blame, and no failure is justification for devaluing a person as a Child of God. This is not about looking for someone to blame--we all know pretty much when our failure is at the top of the list and part of being authentic in Christ is a willingness to admit when we were wrong. It is about making failure less about punishment and being banished and abandoned and more about learning something that we can use as we move along in life.