… when dreams & heroes die March 30, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of March 29, 2010
… when dreams & heroes die
Looking over a dog-eared, parchment-like copy of When Dreams & Heroes Die: a portrait of today’s college student, (by Arthur Levine, 1980), I was taken back to a quite different time in our history. It wasn’t so much the time difference, or the cultural/time-distance warp, as it was the way Levine analyzed the characteristics of that period’s college milieu. Boomers, busters, Gen-X, Gen-Y, yada, yada, yada. ALL of us have experienced the sadness of childhood disappointment of “heroes” who have disappointed us, let us down, deceived us, or who lost our trust through betrayed belief.
Heroes become real human beings with real failures, real flaws; some dissolve into the fantasies of their foundation, real illusions with no connection to real life; comic book/computer game avatars which have no association with the reality of actual beings. Yet, to be sure, there are real heroes: and most of us hold onto dreams that we truly want to become realities. Dreams are good, in fact, great! NOT to dream is to resign oneself to the humdrum of a dreary life, to personal anonymity and an interior death. It is to become a non-person, a mere cog-in-the-wheel, grinding out a life’s work as an automaton.
It is a reality of life—heroes do die, let us down, disappoint us: dreams also die; we settle for 2nd best, 3rd best, etc. Some of us give up our dreams altogether. And we have lost all (or most) of our heroes to time, fantasy, or failure. We have arrived at the blank wall of the convoluted definition, without role-models to provide us with points-of-reference or moral character.
Allow me to offer an alternative scenario. Could our loss of dreams and heroes actually be a trigger for us to rise to the occasion? Is it time for you to become the hero? To become the role-model for those who already look to you as someone they would seek to emulate? Is it time for you to help people dream their dreams? Fulfill their dreams?
Instead of hanging onto your fantasy-heroes of the past, your dreams for significance, maybe it’s time you became the hero for so many others, or even one other. Actually, maybe you already are significant; not in your eyes, but in the eyes of this generation’s emerging leaders.
So review what you’ve accomplished in your life. Is it enough? What more is there that you must do to make a difference for God and for humanity? BUT…, but— Who will be your protégée; what legacy will you leave in the people in whom you’ve invested? What’s your plan? Don’t have one? Why not? WHO are the people God has given to you to nurture to greatness? HOW do you care for them, train them, feed their souls?
BE the hero: make the dreams work! So help you God if you shy away from this great responsibility, this great honor.
Have a nice week.
even when all the experts agree… March 22, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of March 22, 2010
even when all the experts agree…
Renowned philosopher/logician Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was born to wealth and position. Grandson of Sir John Russell, former Prime Minister to Queen Victoria, and son of Viscount Amberley, a well-known atheist of the times (who actually consented to his wife’s affair with their children’s tutor, biologist Douglas Spaulding). Russell dedicated his life to the study of philosophy & mathematics (read- “On Denoting”), logic, pacifism, and social action. A true 20th century man.
Yet, despite his awards (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950) and titles (Third Earl Russell), he was always somewhat of a rogue. The influence of his colleague, Alfred North Whitehead, encouraged his interest in mathematics and logic. In his PRINCIPLES OF MATHEMATICS (co-authored with Whitehead) he laid the foundation for his philosophic approach to what we now call analytic philosophy. He was a particularly prolific writer in the fields of metaphysics, the logic and the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, ethics, and epistomology. During World War I he was one of a handful of British intellectuals who considered themselves pacifist activists (for which he was jailed). Yet following WWII, he proposed a preemptive strike on the Soviet Union should tensions escalate between the UK and the USSR. These shifts in convenient life-philosophy were reflected, as well, in his personal life in numerous divorces, affairs, and questionable social mores & habits.
Russell was oft found to be cutting or sarcastic, intentionally oppositional. Yet one of his remarks must be given some regard— “Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken.” The earth is flat. The earth is the center of the universe. All religions are alike. All men are alike. Evolution is fact: creationism is a myth. The speed of light (c= 299,792,458 meters/second) is a constant. There is no evidence for god (as Russell believed). December 21, 2012 in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar (Mayan culture) is the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle which will see the end of the world.
We’ve become a people who accept what we are told. To question is to go against the flow of public opinion and risk being labeled different, rebellious, not a team player. To question the powers that BE is to be a trouble-maker, a dissident, an insurrectionist. As a culture, we have arrived at a point where anyone who challenges the status quo is seen as a suspicious person. Are we so afraid of a dissenting voice, a dissimilar perspective, or a personal opinion that we turn a deaf-ear to a reconsideration of our own foundational values and presuppositions about life!?! It has been more than twenty years since Alan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind, and we seemed to have learned little from his treatise.
Opposition to the Christian faith, a truly dissenting perspective in the early 21st century, has reached a new height of subtle antagonism. Disdain for anything or anyone “Christian” in our society is freely accepted and touted as most acceptable and appropriate. The Christian Church, which railed against the sins of the world in the previous century, has fallen into disarray in the revelations of this century— clergy abuse, financial fiascos, and moral failures have all come to light.
But this is not true of all genuine followers of Christ. There is a large set of true Christians whose integrity is intact, whose contributions to both church & society are noteworthy, and whose weltanschauung (world & life view) has been carefully and tediously considered. They are proactive participants in the flow of their society, school districts, health-care movements (pro AND con), missions to Haiti and elsewhere, and in meeting the needs of the war-injured and the poor. To turn a deaf ear to these people is a crime against humanity— an arrogant, intentional exhibition of prejudice, of intolerant bigoted people whose minds are made up, who refuse to consider the beliefs of astute, critical thinking people who just happen to be followers of Jesus Christ. Judgmental discrimination at its nastiest!
If you are opposed to the Christian perspective on, well, everything and anything, make sure you understand both the presuppositional basis and the specific arguments of their position. To glibly toss them aside is intellectually indefensible, haughtily conceited, and smacks of Hollywood cynicism. Condescension leaves such a bitter after-taste.
If you own the name of Christ as one of your definers please have a faith with some substance to it; intellectually thought-through, culturally appropriate and specific, grounded in the primary Christian documents—the Bible, and personally applicable to every aspect of your life, from faith expression to political positioning to serving the poor. And do not resist the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) as He molds your life and takes it down paths that seem very, very odd. A cerebral faith with little heart is of little use: a spirited faith with little foundation offers little explanation in any society (I Peter 3:15, Christian Bible).
Even when all the experts agree, they may STILL be mistaken. “Omnia quaerite ac dubitate.” [Question everything!]
Have a nice week.
“Meallan muilte dé go mall ach meallan siad go mion.” March 15, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
Tags: clay, comply, God's purpose, grain, grinding wheel, molding, potter's clay, purpose, trust
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emPulse: Def. 1) something done on the spur of the moment, an impulse, like buying another pair of shoes or a BMW, or getting married in Vegas. 2) or, an EM-pulse, an electro-magnetic pulse, that shuts down everything and forces us to STOP what we’re doing and think about what’s going on.
EmPulse for Week of March 15, 2010
“Meallan muilte dé go mall ach meallan siad go mion.”
“Meallan muilte dé go mall ach meallan siad go mion,” meaning, “God’s mill may grind slowly, but it grinds finely.” ‘Tis an old Irish proverb to be heeded with some respect. For we all live out our lives with the hand of God upon us, want it or not. Some of us are aware, some of us are not. Some of us ignore His voice; some listen more attentively. Yet without exemption, we all lie in the hands of a Creator God who molds us, or grinds us, to be useful both in His Kingdom and in this world.
To be molded implies a sort of compliance on the our part, like malleable clay on a potters-wheel. The potter gently molds the clay with his hands until it is shaped to be useful to its purpose. The grinding-wheel works quite differently. The imagery in the Irish proverb is one of being slowly and steadily worn-down, until all the chaff of one’s life has been ground away and only a nutritious grain remains to be used. Both wheels do their job; in the end, both produce a useful product. So why is it that God must use the grinding-wheel on so many of us rather than a potter’s-wheel?
It is because we have grown thick-skinned, impervious to penetration by pain, hurtful words, judgment, and sometimes even love. We have fallen prey to that postmodern predilection best characterized as skeptical suspicion. We just don’t trust anyone. Trust in friends, family, employers, the “system,” government, or God…, doesn’t matter. Because of past experiences any inclination to truly trust, anyone or anything, is GONE. And thus the grinding-wheel of God must slowly smooth away our hardness, our jagged, frayed bitterness, our pockets of empty emotion and steeled-wills of isolation.
Sadly, only as we are worn down by God can we begin to feel the healing waters of His Spirit as they cleanse us from the pain, and soften us to become the potter’s-clay. It is only then that He can shape and mold us to become a thing of beauty.
A final thought— The grain does not choose to be thrown under the grinding-wheel to be ground bare of its chaff. But it only becomes a nutritious, life-sustaining grain if it goes through such a grinding process. Also, the Potter’s clay does not tell the Potter how it wants to be molded, shaped; the Potter has full control over the kind of vessel into which the clay will be shaped. The Potter also has final say as to the way the pot, vase, cup, or bowl will be used.
Advice— If you sense God shaping you for some purpose, grand or small, do not fight Him. Allow Him to mold you to fit the purpose He has designed for your life…, or you will most assuredly fall under his unyielding grinding-wheel. Remember St Patrick? Learn from his incredible life.
Have a nice week.
retro-futurism March 9, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
Tags: discontinuous change, fear of the future, relationships, retro-futurism, Time tables of history
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EmPulse for Week of March 8, 2010
Remember the ‘60s with images of flying cars, jet-packs, and Buck Rogers? OK, remember Woodstock? OK, how about Ronald Reagan’s “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”, George H W Bush’s “a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky?” The Doors, Motley Cru, the Beatles, Sting, Cindy Lauper, Madonna? (Forget the Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, the Everly Brothers, & Elvis…, OK, maybe not Elvis.) We might remember “Ask not what your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country.” (JFK). Although I prefer Reagan’s description of the most terrifying words in the English language— “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” (SEC Speech— Remarks before the Investment Advisor Association.) And there are few who do not recall exactly what they were doing on 09/11/01.
Some of us learn from the past. It is very wise to learn from the past. “If we do not learn from history we are bound to repeat her mistakes.” Obviously, we have not quite learned our lessons; we assume continuous change when what is upon us is discontinuous change. The shape of war has changed: the philosophy of cars, unfortunately, has not. The idea of relationships is changing: for example, we believe that the divorce rate is declining, when, in fact, people just aren’t bothering with marriage. Go figure. We need to learn from the patterns of history in order to prepare the formats of our future.
Sadly though, other people return to the past to be safe. The “good ‘ol days,” “apple pie, mom, & sittin’ on the porch.” The reality is more like a bunch of good ‘ol boys with some really bad memory. If we look at any era of history, ANY era, it wasn’t all that good. Check out Time Tables of History. Look up any era, or year. At any given moment some part of our world was at war with another part, some natural disaster was taking place, or some catastrophe was befalling someone. Seeking safety in the past is not only a bad idea, it is a delusion. It is one thing to decorate your home in an early American motif: it is quite another to re-institute societal mores and institutional traditions & practices merely to project a veneer that things are still the same, that you are still safe in the shelter of a former time. But you are not safe—you are living in a fabricated reality that will come crashing down around you with little mercy.
Thus are we forced to face an uncertain future of discontinuous change, encountering situations that have no previous precedent, with little history to draw upon for discernment or direction in
making a decision. Flying cars never quite made it, speeding mono-rails are just breaking into our main-stream, and, thankfully, jet-packs have yet to burn the feet off of anyone. But we do have cell phones, the WorldWideWeb, with access to information never before imagined, heart replacements, artificial limbs, a Black President, and teenage babysitters instead of nannies (granted, charging $10.50 an hour). With change upon us, do we have any other option but to adapt, attack the difficulties, and advance to claim the ground for the betterment of society?
So let me leave you with some questions—
- Where do you need to give up some old delusions and adapt to some new realities?
- What scares you the most about our future? Where can you get help to face the foundations of those fears?
- What would it take for YOU to make a difference in the world that is upon us?
Don’t you just hate emPulse sometimes!?!
Have a nice week.
I’m not Irish…, I’m only human March 1, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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Underneath it all, if we’re honest within, we all identify with something that is at our core. John, who is Irish, prompted this response (“I’m not Irish…, I’m only human.”), from Doug, another friend. It struck me that John truly was Irish. Though he was not Ireland born, everything about him bespoke of his Irish heritage. He looked and felt like someone who had just descended the cliffs to the moors with that damp exhaustion that craved a pint o’ Guinness. John found solace in the asceticism of spiritual retreat at monastic centers and enclaves near and far; he found his faith expressed in the ancient forms of meditation and retreats of silence from the frantic demands of daily life. He knew God in ways that few in our postModern/postChristian commercialistic society could bear; not that we all couldn’t use some silent escape more frequently.
Living out our faith, beliefs, core values, is difficult for Atheist, Muslim, Jew, or follower of Christ. We ALL are pressed by the world in which we live to conform so some monolithic, homogenous behavior ethos that seeks to disperse with individual principles for the sake of the whole. “Anyone can adhere to whatever beliefs they chose…, as long as those beliefs do not affect the functioning of society at large.” But this is an inoperable axiom. Are there truly any among us whose beliefs do not impact both our individual actions and bear an influence on our interface with those around us?!? Core values surge through everything we do; they shape belief, lifestyle, relationship principles, etc. [Incongruously, we often throw off our beliefs and values when it comes to sex and success. More on that later.]
Now I need to come-out. I am NOT Irish, though I have a keen penchant for Jameson. I am of Danish/Welsh heritage. My ancestors hold the dubious distinction of bashing in the heads of Saxons and milking cows—not, most likely, at the same time. They did sing a lot, though. But my ancestral heritage is not my core value, my life-definer; my life-reference-point goes further back. It goes all the way back to the founding of the universe, to the creation of this planet; it is grounded in the relationship I sustain with the God who created all that there is— Jesus Christ. His stability and permanence, and the principles by which He directs us to live, are at the basis of my core values, beliefs, and daily actions.
If you are an Atheist, Jew, Muslim, or whatever, you should not agree with this. I would challenge you to reexamine your life to see if you are, in fact, living by the principles you say form the basis for your life. Wouldn’t it be fun, sometime, to talk about our differences to see how we can work together to bring more peace into this world?
Have a nice week.