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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Sting of Death

Do you regard death as the final tragedy or the final triumph? Is the death of a fool different from that of the wise? How can you prepare yourself for death? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 932).

The other day I reread Nathanial Hawthorne's short story, “The Great Stone Face” ( My first and only prior reading of the story took place in 1969 when incarcerated in Federal prison during the Vietnam War. Ernest, the hero of the story, became right then and there my hero. If you have an opportunity, read this story and ask yourself which of the four possible great men (Mr. Gathergold, Old Blood-and-Thunder, Old Stony Phiz, or Ernest himself) would have the best death. Clearly, in my mind, the answer is obvious. The one for whom death would be a triumph is the same for which life was a triumph. But in many ways, who that is depends on the eye (and values) of the beholder. Nathanial Hawthone's point of view is obvious, and I agree fully.

I have heard that for the Christian there can be no tragedy, for even death itself is a victory. If this is true, I ask why funerals are so often sad—even for the Christian? The immediate family particularly feels the sting of death, notably so if the death is untimely or arbitrary. Then, its much like a drama that ends abruptly in the middle without a sufficient sense of denouement; or much like if one gets a brand new car and it is totaled on the drive home. All of the effort involved in its manufacture has to seem in a way pointless and wasted. In this sense, life is much like a work of art that is imbued with balance and proportion. Without these qualities it somehow seems less a work or art than an accidental, meaningless jumble.

Clearly the greatest sense of tragedy arises from the fact that life is a one an only opportunity for each individual. When considered as an earthly function, this is it—there ain't no more. Even if heaven awaits, it is a sad thing if all one meets in this life is cruelty and suffering or superficiality and despair. Genuine happiness, even for a family dog, seems somehow a just and due dessert.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012


What areas of life do you take too seriously? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 931).

To the above question I would add its opposite: What areas of life do you not take seriously enough?

I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger ... cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle ... or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words ... only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, "Why?"
I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!
[Man of La Mancha - Don Quixote (Cervantes)]

For someone with a history of mental illness, it may seem odd for me to say that I have been overly concerned with sanity. Yet, in retrospect, I can only conclude that I have thought too highly of being “serious” – of being level-headed and even-tempered, of being calm and collected, of being “realistic” – of being accepted as “reliable” and “dependable,” and having worldly savvy and assuming its air of “coolness.” This desire for conventional acceptance and respectability has prevented me from being true to my heart and fully living my faith. As Jesus said to His disciples "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). It is clearly possible to value too highly a safe social status and too little the quiet voice of God. This tendency can be viewed as a combination of many sins including pride, sloth, greed, and lust. When we think of the word “lust” it tends to elicit visuals of extravagant, flamboyant sins of the flesh and we quite overlook that it equally applies to buttoned-down and veiled sins of the flesh brought on by focus on staid social acceptance and approval. Surely at 68, it is time to heed the inner voice and in this way relinquish lesser forms of what goes for sanity.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reflexive or Reflective

What favorite saying of your mother's can you still recite? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 928).

The phrase that mother used that I best recall is “As far as I know.” For example, if asked the state of her health she would say “I'm in good health, so far as I know.” I have come to use this phrase myself and apply it very broadly. For example if asked, “How are things going?” I will typically reply “Going well, so far as I know.”

It seems to me this is a very important qualifier. It ranks right up there with the qualifier I use when my wife adds to my honey-do list. I will say boldly “Yes, dear I certainly will do that” then in circumscribed tones add “eventually.” I can hardly think of an assertion to which “as far as I know” does not apply. For example, if asked “Is this true?”-- if asked is this “what is so regardless of what we may say about it?” The most appropriate response can only be—It is certainly far as I know. I suppose only God can legitimately assert any condition of the past, present, or future without using this phrase.

To put it personally, I say that I write this blog to be helpful. To what extent is this true? To what extent are my motives mixed and clouded? I can only respond that my intent is to be far as I know. To assert more is at base dishonest. In other words, even my deepest conviction—that the disciplines of love bring abundant life—in the last analysis is based on faith—in other words is true (so help me God) far as I know.

Are there any areas in which this qualifier is a tad too fastidious? I suppose this morning if I spilled a pot of boiling water on me, it would be a little ridiculous to add the phrase—so far as I know—to the assertion that “I'm in pain.” Likewise, when we come upon a starving person it is a little fastidious to hem and haw about not wanting to assist because we do no want to (by providing food) spoil them. Some realities are too stark and compelling for any mental qualifiers or for rationales of hesitation or delay. In other words, some responses are and should be reflexive while others are and should be reflective. Learning to respond appropriately is one of humanities great responsibilities.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Turn, Turn, Turn

Do you work best with people, things, or ideas? Give an example. (Serendipity Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, page 922).

I have come to view a person like a large chunk of mineral held in the hand that has many facets. The facet that one chooses to focus on becomes the defining characteristic at that particular moment. Another way of saying it is that during one's lifetime many snapshots can be taken, both favorable and unfavorable. It tells us more about the viewer than the subject as to which particular snapshot is focused upon. I can't help but think of my great boss when I read the above question from the Serendipity Bible. Mark for me illustrates someone who excels in all three areas – people, things, ideas. Sometimes it's impossible really to spectrum out the elements. His willingness to help someone on a project shows his affinity for people; this initiates his skill with things showing an aptitude in this area, while involvement with things calls forth creativity and thought. So all depends really on whether one is choosing to look at a video with sufficient length or an instantaneous snapshot. I suppose that actually when we complement someone on excelling in any one aspect – such as being a “people person” or and “idea person” we are really saying that we most admire this aspect about them. In some ways our perception of them as a specialist in one area is tantamount to criticizing their lack in other areas. Thus, calling someone a “people person” is veiled criticism of the them while being revelatory of our own prejudices about them.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Meditations on Maliciousness

If a malicious person can disguise himself..., how can he be “exposed”? (Serendipity Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, page 921).

Malicious: Marked by deep ill will; deliberately harmful []

A malicious person is exposed by the harm they do. The extent of the maliciousness of those opposed to Jesus was dramatically evidenced by the crucifixion. Unfortunately, typically maliciousness is exposed only after the harm is done. Intent alone is easily concealed or applied insidiously.

If we choose to look at the typical sources of malice we need look no further than the Beatitudes—which turn the hurtful conventional wisdom of the world on its head and show by contrast the essential nature of malice:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
  for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
  for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
  for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
  for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
  for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
  for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:1-10 NIV)

Such are the targets of those seeking to do harm: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers. Such people are often the butt of maliciousness and therefore are persecuted for righteousness sake. In short, maliciousness is characteristic of the ways of the world and includes: haughtiness of spirit, inflicting pain with exultation, greedily proud, seekers of evil, lusting after selfish interests, the deceitful, the sowers of wrath.

The righteous most often expose maliciousness by being its victims for they are quite intentionally opposed to retaliation in kind. The righteous absorb venom and emanate from their suffering a healing balm.

This represents a maddening state of affairs that will not end until the fullness of time when peace comes and warfare among the malicious ends.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breaking Free from Secrecy

What does it mean to you that the Lord God knows all your secret thoughts—your faltering, your gloating, your ignorance? (Serendipity Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, page 918).

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NIV).

Several years ago I married Kathy. This was perhaps the most freeing thing I ever did. It is a severely cowing burden to maintain deep dark secrets. Since I am fully confident in Kathy's love, I have been able to unload each and every one of those secrets.

In the presence of an all-knowing God it seems to me that we can have two diametrically opposed reactions. We can, like Adam and Eve, try to hide in guilt and shame. On the other hand, realizing that we are fully known and loved despite our imperfections, we can experience a tremendous liberation of spirit.

It has become almost a truism relating to high profile people, that when they do something they shouldn't their attempt to cover it up is much worse than the thing originally done; for dishonesty is perhaps the most telling and dangerous of all failings. To keep up a dishonest presentation requires constant maintenance and the limitless expenditure of all types of resources and even can engender a type of dark paranoia.

There is no denying it. Who among us does not feel relieved and encouraged when we see someone own up in all honesty to a faux pas? This is because all of us know perfectly well from our own experience the hurtful implications of dishonesty. None of us want to see anyone—especially a leader—more enslaved to deceit than ourselves.

Thus, an omniscient, loving God can be our ticket to health and freedom. We can prayerfully acknowledge lapses confident in knowing that he loves us still. Since our deep dark secrets are already out, we can be encouraged to share them with others—even those not our friends—for in every important respect we have no secrets anyway. It is my firm belief that in doing so we will garner much genuine respect.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fierce Kindness

I have witnessed fierce kindness
In the adamant love of my father
In the abiding love of my mother
In the resolute love of my brother
In the reliable love of my relations
And my extended family
No matter what!!!

Some may call it unconditional love
For me it's fierce kindness—
I have seen it traverse space and time
As if the effort required didn't matter
As if costs were not in the calculation
As if faithfulness had the tensile strength of titanium.

And now Kathy is my forever love
Who sums up all I have ever known about love
In its simple sweetness
In its ability to make burdens light
In its mystic obviation of time and space
In its unfathomable depths of loyalty
And its limitless measures of light.

Once again I am amazed
By the plain and simple fact of fierce kindness
Gifted to me in generous love.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Security of Love: A State Essential

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (KJV).

Tough love : love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior  (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

Any love worth its salt is in a sense tough love. For it is not shallow and sentimental. I keep thinking of American politics—of the right and left—and am chagrined that the right has staked claim to tough love. In my book all real love is tough love—that's why I seldom use the word “love” alone, preferring instead “disciplines of love.”

We need to step back and consider the importance of the disciplines of love in our society. The Bill of Rights is an example of tough love. It says, in effect, that all people shall be treated in a loving fashion—they have inalienable rights. It is the job of government to secure these rights. But a moment's reflection will suffice to show that without love's active and pervasive presence in society no sword of the state however strong could long prevail. Take laws for the protection of children. Surely if parents en masse suddenly stopped loving their children, there is no realistic scenario for the state providing security that would compensate for this lack of love. Like it or not, it is undeniable that no government can fill the void left by the widespread absence of love within the state. The society is then doomed for “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint....” “Where there is no vision, the people perish....” It must be plainly understood that the security of any state in the long run rests upon the presence of love among its people. In this sense, all secure and healthy nations are fundamentally Christian nations by any other name. Whether we have “big government” or “small government” matters much, much less than whether we have a loving people. This is the ultimate bond holding together any social contract.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Character I'd Like to Play

Alfalfa - Our Gang

What kind of character do you think you'd most enjoy portraying in a play? Why? How are you like, or unlike, the character? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition page 913).

Let's begin at the top with the movie Jesus of Nazareth. Would I like to play Jesus? Jesus went around being the son of God and, even so, many good law-abiding people did not like him. He was too controversial among the respectable for my comfort zone. So then, would I want to be Superman who is a more universally liked “savior of the world?” He receives wide acclaim from good, law-abiding folk. But Superman is too unrelievedly “Super” for my taste. Yet I definitely want to betray a character with good outcomes. I do not want to assume any kind of tragic role.

Comedy, then, will be the thing. What movie, what play, what TV series could do the trick? I much admired Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop movie series. Eddie Murphy, as much as I genuinely admire him, simply for me represents an unreachable star. I need a more homely type.

Some years ago I was a faithful fan of the British TV comedy series Rumpole of the Bailey (1975–1992). (Click here for the Wikipedia entry about the series.) If I could play any character in the world, it would be Rumpole, “an ageing London barrister who defends any and all clients.” He was a character who did genuine good without being goody-goody. He was just tolerated by his colleagues who universally felt assured of their unquestioned superiority. In a group of people impressed by class, he was not—though he had lots of it in an idiosyncratic sort of way. He had clients some of his fellow lawyers would not fain to be associated with that he ably defended. In terms of respect, he was kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of lawyers. Married, he had a wife Hilda—"She Who Must Be Obeyed.” He had spunk, spirit, and courage and on occasion could turn a powerful phrase. He had a weakness for ennobling literature. Following are a few short clips. Much longer videos can be found on YouTube.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dead-end Morphs

Mitsubishi Pajero: No dead-ends

Has God ever surprised you with a creative alternative to an “impossible” situation? Is a new creation waiting to be born in your life now? Or are you empty, infertile, running up against the limits of your understanding? How can God's might and understanding penetrate these barriers? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary edition, page 883).

One reason that I am optimistic about man's future is that he take such pleasure in devising ways and means to escape dead-ends. Video games are very popular now and though I don't know much about them I think that a common feature they have is providing opportunities to escape impossible situations. Certainly when I look back on a day at work, I find it an exceptionally good day when I have met a seemingly impossible challenge only to have in the end overcome it. In fact, we easily become disinterested in situations (or with games) that present no substantial challenges. Such games and situations provide little or no pleasure. This gets to the very core of what it means to be human – the profound pleasure we get in mastering difficulties. This explains why we continually seek to break out of the envelope of easy challenges. Most all progress or accomplishment of any kind is based on humanity's seeking this type of pleasure. In this sense, though we can long to live in Pleasantville – a place where everything is provided in abundance and there are absolutely no problems or challenges – we soon come to realize that “though it's a nice place to visit, we wouldn't want to live there.” In the midst of challenges, hope is an essential currency. And who would choose to live where hope shrivels on the vine because it is not needed?

An especially complex situation is posed when challenges and dead-end solutions call upon input from many people with diametrically opposed points of view. If action were not indicated, this would not be a serious problem. The issue becomes, since action is often needed, how to devise a decision mechanism that is mutually acceptable. Democracy has been adjudged by many as the best answer, for even if it does not solve the underlying problem it at least implements procedural fairness—that is, in social situations the principle of fairness takes precedence over solutions that would be procedurally bad even if on some levels more efficient and effective. This is a conscious choice that democracies make and stand by in faith as the better choice—as being most in accord with God's point of view since as a decision model it values people over things. Priorities, even amidst the tumult, are kept straight.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Objectifying Evil

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Ephesians 6:10-20) NIV.)

When we think of the martyrdom of the early Christians, too often we assume that their martyrdom was primarily the result of a difference in condign power. That is, the early Christians were martyrs because they lacked sufficient brute force. Actually, a profoundly different reality obtained. For the early Christians it was not a matter of insufficient condign power, but of overwhelming conditional power – the power that arises from certainty based upon religious belief. We need to take quite literally Paul's assertion that: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The simple fact is, if the early Christians were to make up an enemies list, it would not include the names of anyone. They simply did not see other people as their enemies. Following the example of Jesus, they even fully identified with their enemies. They saw instead that their enemies were not material, but modes of thought and belief to which they too could be susceptible – such constituted their enemies list. They made a radical decision – we will not fight with the weapons of flesh and blood, we will only fight with the weapons of spirit. This decision was based upon the simple fact that the weapons of condign power are inappropriate instruments in conditional-power combat. Ideological wars in which unspeakable atrocities are committed only serve to testify that death is the only way that anger and rage find to close off thought – though we know from history that thoughts are not interred with the dead. Hence our enemies are not mortal, but are comprised instead of principalities, powers, and thoughts. To be fully realistic we must come to see that thoughts have an existence outside the cortex (however notional this may seem).

In our own time we have seen this viewpoint exercised in the actions of Dr. Martin Luther King. His enemies list included no man – not even the most rabid racists. His enemies list included only modes of thought to which he in abject honesty realized that he too could be susceptible. He identified the real enemy and in love skillfully applied the right tools in effective opposition.

A great advance in civilization will occur when the limits, even mortality, of condign power is recognized and the forces of conditional power (including principalities and powers) are accepted as vital working hypotheses. The most significant immediate result will be an increase in compassion and empathy and a concurrent decrease in cruelty.

(An interesting read that treats condign, compensatory, conditioned power is The Anatomy of Power by John Kenneth Galbraith.)

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weary of the Future

The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices (part of Christian ethics) that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin. The currently recognized version of the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

The surest path to becoming weary of the future is to eagerly speculate on how innovation will change the heart of man. Nothing holds less promise. The safest prediction in all the world is that is that human nature is indelible and is unchangeable by any human innovation. If people do not perceive that the seven deadly sins are as fully operative today as ever, then they are blind even concerning themselves. The hope for a brighter future has no rational basis and is in this sense crazy. There was and remains only one shred of hope. Doctrinal purity relies on the activities of no institution (which are all corruptible) but on the grace of God in Christ. We are all sooner or later brought to our knees—either in weariness of the world or in reverence of the Trinity.

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Love Songs

I admit it. One of my most listened to stations on Pandora is Love Songs on the Radio. I have a special weakness for love songs. Love songs recount experiences both happy and painful, and dreams realized and some never to be. It's music that is often profoundly affirming and that places one within a time line extending into the future. Here, essential needs of humanity find compelling personal expression. It speaks of raw commitment that transcends average experience. It does all this in a context of simplicity and directness. Sometimes it also deals with the tragedy of broken relationships showing that profligacy is really perfidy. At its best it is compassionate and encouraging, filled with humility and grace—painting memorable images of endearment in the mind.

This blog began with an incident at work Friday. A co-worker of mine in his mid-twenties was working on a computer software project that hundreds in the workplace eventually will use. He was deciding upon what color scheme to use. He said that he was considering lavender blue. Immediately this phrase took me back to years before he was born when a song of the same title was popular (“Lavendar Blue,” 1959). I immediately went to YouTube and played a few strains for him. I suppose he reacted much like I would have when at his age if some old codger had been reminded of and gratuitously played for me the “Tiger Rag” (1917)—”That's not bad, not bad at all.”

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Friday, August 17, 2012

A Statue I Would Erect

Ronald Reagan –
I would erect a similar statue of Jeff Boreman
On May 26, 2010, I received the note below from a co-worker. We had many heated political debates. Occasionally after such a discussion, I would think about the issue in the evening and write a little about it and the next day give him what I had written. We could never agree about much politically, but we valued and respected each other, and I feel developed a strong friendship. In some ways, a cordiality born of controversy is indelibly stamped “Genuine and Durable” in a way that friendships based on agreement and accord never can. He would call me out on my logic, my facts, my beliefs, my prejudices; but never disrespected me as a person—and thus, in a mysterious way, our respect for one another increased. Perhaps we grew even to have a little sympathy for one another being trapped as it were in our own points of view. In any case, I began my blog that very day and have posted to it nearly every day since. It has come to mean a lot to me proving once again that in many ways Jeff understood me better than I understood myself.    

Note from Jeff Boreman
May 26, 2010


As often we may disagree on political issues, I still find your writings ennobling. Below are a couple of links to start your very own blog. I think you should look into this.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Something in the Water

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 NIV).

There is a phenomenon that continues to bring me much wonderment. I have seen people spare no resources in providing their own children a rich nurturing environment – including private schools, material abundance, memorable vacations, health services, security, stability, and loving discipline. They know all these things are essential and fundamental to raising healthy kids. Yet these same people show no sympathy at all for children of the streets who have none of these advantages. This mean streak – this essential cruelty – closes off the flow of mercy and generosity – even common sense – at one's front doorstep. This astounding ability to circumscribe one's sympathies to a tight circle of self-interest can only be ascribed in my thinking to there being something in the water – or more likely – in the bottles of booze that substantially serve to anesthetize against the common pains of mortality.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dancer and the Dance

How can we know the dancer from the dance?
 (W.B. Yeats)
Do you prefer thinking, talking or doing?.... (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 883).

I will begin answering this question by describing times when I do not like to do any of them. I definitely do not like to think if that means rote memorization. Nothing would come closer to hell for me than needing to remember a long list of unfamiliar words such as in taxonomy or anatomy, or a word for word recitation from memory of the Gettysburg Address—whatever strong points exist for doing all these. I do not like to talk when I have nothing useful to say—some no doubt would say that's why I tend to be on the quiet side. I do not like to do activities that cannot be redeemed through identification with some worthy purpose. This does not mean I begrudge humble tasks if they can be identified as having a worthy purpose. For example, cleaning the bathroom shower floor or washing the dishes while not my favorite things to do nevertheless can be seen as serving a worthy purpose.

When do I most enjoy thinking?—when I am lost in focusing on a problem whose solution is just around the corner—when anticipation is tangible. I enjoy thinking almost to the point of being unstable when fresh perspectives or insights appear materializing as if from a jumpgate. Finally I enjoy thinking when that entails organizing and fleshing out basic meaning—when getting to what I really think about a subject entails uncovering subliminal experiences in all their diversity and foundational commonality. Such behavior is something I no doubt share with all humans, and this partly explains why humans find it fun to think.

From this it can be predicted that I like to talk when I feel I have an insight to share—I then have the enthusiasm of a child upon making a new discovery. And, of course, insight need not be heavy, serious stuff. Much humor that lightens and invigorates everyday conversation is filled with it. On the other end of the emotional spectrum is talk I do with trusted loved ones when I feel down and in need of encouragement. So the truth is I like to talk when feeling especially positive or negative. I don't mess much with “Mr. In-between.”

I like to act when I feel I can be useful or helpful—and thereby (in my own mind) have the carrot dangling before me that someone will be appreciative. I must never underestimate the role others play in eliciting my actions. Both my parents have passed away, but even yet I seek their approval down the corridors of eternity.

Thinking, talking, and doing” pretty much sum up the gist of any life. We owe it to ourselves to give due consideration to these aspects of our being.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Creativity''s Ambiance

How do you express creativity? What squelches it? What inspires it? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 883).

The other day at the office my boss gave me a job to do. It was a somewhat complicated job and to meet it successfully required creativity. Looking back upon it, several factors made creativity possible.

First off, there was a felt need or occasion for it. Creativity did not arise as a bolt from the blue. Secondly, I had the resources required for the exercise of creativity. I had the computer and software needed, and I had knowledge in how to use them. Another necessary resource is sufficient time to exercise creativity. Thirdly, and this is very essential, I had the permission to be creative. This took the form of my boss telling me what I needed to do but allowing broad parameters in how I was to achieve it. This can in nowise be taken for granted. Way too often in my opinion the powers that be – however they are represented – can go into excessive detail and specificity in how a job is to be accomplished. This can squelch creativity. Finally to be creative I had to have a measure of self-confidence and self-discipline. Over time I have developed an attitude of competence. Needless to say, I did not arrive at this pass alone. Countless people providing countless opportunities and moments of love, encouragement and guidance brought me there.

Briefly, I will apply the above to my creating these blogs. First off, there is the occasion for them. I am at a certain time in my life when I wish to share my observations and experiences. Secondly, I have the resources available that are required to do them including computer, software, the Internet, time, and ability developed over time. Of course I must tip my hat to Google who provides blogging space and resources at no charge. An important resource also is you the reader. Because you offer an audience and a sense of accountability. I thus have an added incentive to do my best. Thirdly, I live in a society in which free expression is highly valued and encouraged. I feel absolutely free to express opinions on any subject (perhaps excepting sex). This permission leads to the last requirement for creativity, namely self-confidence and self-discipline. When sitting at the computer I must feel confident that I have something to say. But secondly, I must have the self-discipline to limit my subject to areas where I might have something interesting to say – astrophysics, for example, not being one of them. And of course the exercise of writing comes with many “rules and regs” that paradoxically serve not to squelch but to encourage free speech through provisions for commonality.

I wish you the very best today and hope that you are blessed with the occasion for creativity, with the required resources for creativity, with abundant permission, and with the self-confidence and self-discipline required to carry it out. As for occasion, just remember—the world needs your creative contributions today whoever or wherever you are!!! Creative people of the world, arise and break free from the repressive chains of boredom.

Lyrics to Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! loves me still,
'tho I'm very weak and ill,
that I might from sin be free,
bled and died upon the tree.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died
heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
let His little child come in.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
close beside me all the way.
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me when I'm good.
When I do the things I should.
Jesus loves me when I'm bad,
but it makes him oh so sad.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

What's That's Secret You're Keeping?

Apart from eating, drinking and sleeping, what can you look back and say you've done “all your life”? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 882).

The easy and most universal and consistent answer to this question is that throughout my life I have been imperfect. After that, a persistent blindness and an inability to see things in perspective follows closely. But tonight I would like to discuss a third persistent feature of my life – the feeling of estrangement and being left out of “in-groups.” The in-groups listing would be long and would include everything from friendship groups, to high school cliques, to brilliant honor roll students, to Ivy League universities, to college instructors, to a long list of professionals and their professions, to the hard sciences, to the connoisseurs of art, music, fine cuisine, esoteric philosophy, the political elite, people of power and practical affairs, elected officials, rock stars, people with egregious talents, and perhaps the most perverse of all, feeling left out of the company of neurotic and prolific geniuses, and even of the degenerate, rebellious and counter-cultural. Any assets and accomplishments that I might have too often have seemed woefully ordinary and nondescript – deserving to be totally discounted and shunned.

I would love to say this is something that I have completely outgrown. But the tug of envy within my innermost soul even yet occasionally makes itself felt. I have lived to see many of those that I envied crash and burn in their own lives. But curiosity combined with a lust for power, influence, and the desire to be different (special) are deeply ingrained within my character. I continue to sometimes yearn for the smugness that comes from being safely above the entirely dismissible, deplorably average, and depressingly ordinary. In short, being among the nondescript “salt of the earth” has few provisions to satisfy my persistent hungry for distinction even if met through Faustian deals with darkness.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gravitas and Happy Days

Who or what is your greatest enemy?.... (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 878).

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Following is a possible enemies list that can apply to all of us. It is clear that many possible missteps and debatable issues lie in wait.
  • Too much or too little ambition
  • Too much or too little conviction
  • Too much or too little idealism
  • Too much or too little realism
  • Too much focus or too little focus
  • Too much or too little sentimentality
  • Too much or too little skepticism – cynicism
  • Too much or too little prosperity
  • Too much or too little religion/religiosity
  • Too much or too little reliance on God
  • Too much or too little hope
  • Too much or too little self-confidence
  • Too much or too little independence
  • Too much or too little reliance on others
  • Too much or too little self-reliance
  • Too much or too little reliance on government
  • Too much or too little vulnerability
  • Too many or too few choices
  • Too much or too little sensitivity
  • Too much or too little yearning for perfection
  • Too much or too little yearning for harmony
  • Too much or too little yearning for nobility
  • Too much or too little self-criticism
  • Too much or too little criticism and judgment of others
  • Too much or too little self blame
  • Too much or too little blaming others
  • Too much or too little rebellion and discontent
  • Too much or too little acquiescence and complacency
  • Too much or too little concern with the passage of time and mortality
  • Too much or too little tolerance
  • Too much or too little trust
  • Too much or too little love
  • Too much or too little thriftiness
  • Too much or too little generosity
  • Too much or too little faith
  • Too much or too little eloquence/plain speaking
  • Too much action too little thought
  • Too much thought too little action
  • Too much courage too little caution
  • Too much honesty too little compassion
  • Too much compassion too little encouragement of self-reliance
  • Too much or too little belief in miracles
  • Too much or too little trust in force
  • Too much or too little trust in perceptual shifts
  • Too much or too little regard for the effectiveness of armaments
  • Too much or too little compromise and accommodation of the opposition
  • Too much indulgence not enough discipline
  • Too much discipline too little leniency
  • Too much neglect or too much fussiness
  • Too much flexibility or too much rigidity
  • Too much discipline not enough freedom
  • Too much freedom not enough discipline
  • Too much subjectivity not enough objectivity
  • Too much objectivity not enough subjectivity
  • Too much shortsightedness not enough long sightedness
  • Too much long sightedness not enough shortsightedness
  • Too much concerned with reputation and status
  • Too little concerned over reputation and status
  • Too indulgent versus too tolerant
  • Too worldly versus too spiritual
  • Too dogmatic versus too unprincipled
  • Too much concerned with precedence versus too little concern with precedence
  • Too much concerned with justice too little concerned with mercy
  • Too much concerned with mercy too little concerned with justice
  • Too much concerned with efficiency too little concerned with effectiveness
  • Too much concerned with effectiveness too little concerned with efficiency
  • Too much concerned with balance not enough concern for purity
  • Too much concerned with purity insufficient concern for balance
  • Too much concerned with security too little acceptance of risk
  • Too much acceptance of risk not enough concerned with security
  • Too much concerned with means not enough concern about ends
  • Too much concerned with ends not enough concern about means
  • Too much concerned with self-interest and not enough concern with sharing
  • Too much concerned with sharing not enough concerned with self-interest
  • Too much concerned about what others think and too little concerned about one's own positional integrity
  • Too much concern about tradition not enough concerned about originality
  • Too much concern about originality not enough concerned about tradition
  • Too much concern about history not of concern about the present
  • Too much concerned about the present not enough concerned about history
  • Two little concern about values too much concern about “facts”
  • Too much concern about “facts” to little concerned about values
  • Too much concerned about relational integrity and not enough concerned about personal integrity
  • Too much concerned about personal integrity and not enough concerned about relational integrity

Such a listing provides a glimpse of the complexities that face humanity. There is little wonder that we sometimes weave a tangled web, and that the political seasons that treat many of these issues come upon us with regularity. In fact, it can be asserted that on a personal level (about our own constitution and not that of society at large) we need more “inward politics” not less—more internal discussion and debate and the resultant heightened insights that can come from self-evaluation, consideration, and introspection.

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