Ready, Fire, Aim!

merida_disney The rate of change during the twentieth century had a greater velocity than any century before. The certainty of how things worked was based on the assumption of continuous change— that is, that things change, but they have some connection to what has gone before.

     We are now in a transition of discontinuous change— that is, too much has changed, so rapidly, that it has little to NO connection to what has gone before. We have been in a paradigm shift from what was to whatever is to become.

     If you feel like you can’t seem to keep up, well, you’re right. You can’t. In industry, technology, communication, and nations it is no longer READY, AIM, FIRE. From here on out it’s READY…, FIRE…, AIM. 

     Let’s take a look at some of the sign posts that mark this present time period. Most scholars deem this era a postChristian era.

  1. postChristians trust in their own judgment rather than in traditional authority or group consensus.

            People no longer trust in BIG— organizations, traditional institutions (read the church), or business. Judgment starts and stops with ME.

  1. Young people conform to their generational peer values.

            The TV show FRIENDS was a fair representation of this. (Binge watch them all on NETFLIX.) Or, NEW GIRL, with Zoe Deschanel. Amidst the convolution of individualism and personal values there remains this hunger to be accepted. They are upbeat, positive, and do not like to be compared with older generations. Actually, they do not like to be labeled at all.

  1. Today’s generation seeks meaning in service, doing, living-life vs. becoming couch potatoes.

            They want to be part of a thriving, working society.  They want to make a difference in our world, they want to have an impact, leave a mark. They are not as rebellious as Boomers or later Busters (GenX). With no internal guidelines to provide perimeters for behavior, most perceive life as a challenge to be figured out, conquered, and shaped.

  1. Postmoderns are more visual than linear-sequential. They “think” in music. They visualize life more than they analyze it.

The emerging generation in this early twenty-first century have grown up with TV, DVDs (now passe), YouTube, Gaming, Smartphones, Snapchat; and 3D movies with special FX. All has evolved to produce a truly visually-connected generation. “Imaging” a reality makes more sense than stating that reality in a logical, linear form. Words have lost their reference points for most of this generation; unless they represent a visual image in their mental milieu.

  1. Twentysomethings create personal truth-value systems to make sense of life.

Having witnessed moral failures in the church and the ethical failures of our government and sports figures, most have lost all their confidence in external institutions to provide them with a basis for making sense of life. So they look within themselves to create truth-value systems that need only work for one individual, myself. They bond with other like-minded individuals intimately. Oh, you believe in a god/God?  That’s great; I’m glad it works for you.  My personal truths/beliefs work for me too. ‘Nough said.

  1. Emerging leaders value experience-based truth over propositionally proclaimed truth.

One of the byproducts of an exclusive reliance on personal truth-value systems is an eventual abhorrence for anything nailed down, especially written. Writing something down makes it binding, authoritative, final. They want to move with the flow, the immediate, the next, and the synthesis of the experiences and insights of life. Propositionally stated truth usually flows out of institutional conclaves; they are not to be trusted. Personal experience is the producer of truth and Truth (if there really is the latter).

  1. They seek a spirituality within as a Life-Reference point, rather than outside of their inner world.

In a conversation with one of my 20-something friends I was taken back by his surprise that I “needed a god” to support my spiritual self. He responded,“I don’t feel any need for an external reference point for my spirituality. It comes from within.” postChristians hold little confidence in historical religions, especially Christianity. Not only do religions write everything down, they are insistent on the supremacy of words over life. Thus the church makes little sense to them. “Christians don’t seem capable of living life.

  1. Our emerging culture resonates with transparent, caring people whose lives reflect an inner integrity.

Well, frankly, who doesn’t like these kinds of people? They have a lightness about them that is infectious. Whether it is from some inner urge to escape and play or a zest for experiences that radiate with life they inspire those around them. But they don’t put up with any crap; they don’t play the games of social niceties. They expect those they meet to be up front with them, honest about life, open with their ideas, even when it might elicit disagreement. They resonate with positive, upbeat, transparent people in any age category. (Informing them that they are sinners before a Holy God is NOT an understandable starting point. So, what would be?)

  1. PostChristians are very picky about how and with whom they spend their free time.

Got any free time with nothing to do? Right, neither do I. So also with the postmodern set. Life is f-u-l-l, VERY FULL! Every given chunk of time is packed with work, play, and appointments; going, going, going more and more and gone. The work-force set has very little time: take a number. The college/grad school set can’t pack any more into their lives. And the junior/senior high school crew should really use the calendar sections on their cell-phones. Get the picture? If not…“have a good-one.

So… !? How can the Christian message ever make it into the lives of people who don’t trust traditional institutions, especially the church, don’t relate to linear/sequential propositional Truth, who construct value systems based on their own experiences (exclusively), who don’t like the arrogant authority of written codes and beliefs, and who find a spirituality within themselves with no sense of a need for any external reference point? AND they don’t have any time for you. Does the word conundrum come to mind? Hummm.

            Well, please forgive me, but this conundrum excites me! What a great time to be a Christian in western society! We are truly living in a postChristian era— a culture that thinks of institutional Christianity as having already been tried— and found wanting. So much has changed. If you are a Christian, and you are alive, you have an opportunity to make one of the greatest contributions to human history— to participate in reshaping the interface between the Christian world and our postChristian culture.  You’ve gotta love it!

So, again, now what?!? READY! FIRE! AIM! Absolutely!

  Gary

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Trouble Transitions

Gary, Davis, Christianity, Change, Trouble, Transitions          Far too frequently we hear the cry that our society needs more change agents. The implication is that the way things are presently just isn’t good enough. Pick a field— politics, business, transportation, medicine, religion (especially Christianity), finances, yadayadayada. Everything needs some form of change.

            The problem with change is that it invariably dumps us into a transitional time where even more things become unclear, unsteady, and iffy. O joy. Just what we need— more instability. Well, actually, we do.

Transitions in any segment of life move us out of the predictability, safety and definitions within one life-phase into an arena of uncertainty, a transition.

Transitions aren’t necessarily marked by growth. Though most people would hope they grow within a transition, many people, and businesses flounder, unable to set a new direction, given the changing global circumstances or personal situation. But without the cloudiness of a transition, things would stay too-much-same.

When you think about it, the cycle of phases and transitions, phases and transitions, is constant throughout your own life, or the life of a company, or country. The shifts are marked by what Malcom Gladwell has declared as tipping points— literally, those events or experiences that push us right over the edge and force us to consider something else in the future…, or tomorrow, or next week.

So when you consider becoming a change agent also consider how it will affect you, personally, your business, your family, and the greater good. Do you want to create the circumstances that lead you and those with you into a transition?

Transitions are uncertain times. Just make sure you are ready for the fog that lies ahead. But, by all means, keep moving forward. Besides think of all the fun constant predictability takes out of the adventure we call life?!?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Pope Francis in America

Pope Francis, Gary Davis, 365Christianity, Christians, Clueless, Culture, Alfredo BorbaAs only the fourth Pope to set foot on American soil, Pope Francis has sparked an interest in not only the Christian faith, but in all religion across this land. Questions like, What do I believe? Do I really believe what I say I believe? What parts of those beliefs affect my life on a daily basis? And on a larger scale, What is our responsibility to the poor, the displaced, the strangers in our midst, and those of other faiths? Or, yet again, What is our responsibility to climate change? How can we handle the economic inequity across the globe?

 On September 23rd, in his speech before a joint session of Congress (http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript/), Francis graciously summarized & tackled two major areas of concern we need to address— CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT and CULTURAL WASTE.

 On the matter of Cultural Engagement, he encouraged all Christians, everyone in the United States, and everywhere, to solve the world crises in immigration, of refugees in the Middle East and Europe, to seek solutions to seemingly unending regional conflicts, and to learn that differing cultural perspectives can actually serve to improve the human race rather than to further divide it. We all must engage people who are different from us, for our own sake. Otherwise our differences will lead to misunderstanding and misunderstanding to mistreatment and war. We must end our isolationism.

 On the matter of Cultural Waste, Pope Francis’ deep concern was not only what we all are doing to our environment through national industrial pollution and waste byproducts, his concern was primarily with our attitude toward the humanity of humans. He called for an end to treating illegal immigrants as numbers, and called for an attitude where they are simply people, seeking a better life. He called for governments worldwide to find a solution to the massive migration of people from the Middle East and Northern Africa fleeing for their lives and for safety to European and Western borders. We dare not turn our backs on them because of their massive considerable numbers; they are people.

 His admonitions should move all of us to contact our Congressmen and Representatives to STOP ignoring these tragedies as if time will simply take care of them. It will not. WE must take care of them as if God is demanding that we do it. I couldn’t agree more.

What are you being called on to do to make a difference?

Getting lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1.      I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2.      Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3.      Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4.      God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5.      Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

  Gary

Ready-Fire-Aim

Clueless, Christianity, Christian, Book, Dr, Gary, DavisLife facts from 1902: things that make you go hummm.

  1. The average life expectancy in the US was forty-seven years.
  2. Only 14 Percent of the homes in the US had a bathtub.
  3. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
  4. There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  5. The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour.
  6. The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  7. More than 95 percent of all births in the US took place at home.
  8. Ninety percent of all US physicians had no college education.
  9. Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.
  10. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  11. The five leading causes of death in the US were:

1)      Pneumonia and influenza

2)      Tuberculous

3)      Diarrhea (most likely from contaminated food)

4)      Heart Disease

5)      Stroke

  1. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30 people.
  2. Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.
  3. One in ten US adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
  4. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”
  5. Eighteen percent of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
  6. There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire US. [i]

So, given the religious fun & fancies of the last 10,000 years, not to mention the incredible innovations that have taken place in the last 100 years, the question we are facing on this postmodern/postChristian, text2text, family-redefining, iPoding, Wii-ing, touch-screen, Skyping globe is— Who are we? or— What are the definers of life and reality in a world (western culture, in this case) with so many value systems coexisting side by side?  In other words, how do we make sense of all the changes of the last years of the twentieth century and the few we have played with so far in the twenty-first?  That is what this chapter will address.

Let’s start with a metaphor from the early days of the wornderful world of computers. Can you say Ctrl+Alt+Del?[ii] You remember what that means, don’t you?  (Or not.) It’s an old computer key combination for releasing a hard drive freeze up, a crash, a lock up…, call it what you will; personally, I remember it as *&@#$ frustrating.  [Well, admit it. You feel it even if you don’t say it. It’s part of human nature to be frustrated by all things electronic.]  We’ve all experienced that irritating situation where we are working along, just like we always do, and, for whatever reason, our computer’s hard drive hits a wall, beyond which it will not work.  Ctrl+Alt+Del.  You have to REBOOT! And if you haven’t bothered to save your work, or exit your application, or backup your work, well, bye-bye!  Back to square one.

The point is that things don’t always work the way they are intended. [Perhaps Microsoft intends their operating systems to work like this, but probably not. (Why people buy Macs?] So much has changed in the world it requires a focused determination (or constant immersion) just to keep up. In the Western World (Europe, North America, parts of the Pacific Rim) the rate of change has accelerated to the point that we literally cannot keep up. For example, it used to be that if you ordered a computer from a distributor (DELL, GATEWAY, HP) by the time you paid it off it would be obsolete. Now, the joke goes (but not so far from the truth), that by the time it arrives it is obsolete. We are outpacing ourselves on a daily basis. The way we did something yesterday (made a phone call, turned on the TV, cooked dinner, “commuted” to work[iii]) is not the way we do it today.

In the mid-twentieth century products and goods were made to last; they could be counted on to be around for 5-10, even 15 years. They broke; you repaired them. Now it is use it & lose it. Material goods in the West are expendable; sometimes, so are the people. Company loyalty, holding onto your job, or having a single career for life have all been supplanted by upward mobility, “down-sizing,” farming jobs overseas, and multitalented entrepreneurialism (read “I want to do what I want to do.”).

For better or for worse, we have moved light-years past the modes of living at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century. Imagine that world for a moment. Industrialization had taken over the cities, the family, and the father. Electricity was just becoming available to the masses. Most Americans used kerosene lamps for light.  The automobile was crowding out the horse and buggy. Train travel was the rapid transit of the day; subways and trolleys were uniting workplace and home with greater efficiency. Back on the farm even the earliest mechanization of planting and harvesting was revolutionizing the agricultural process. The massive expansion of North America’s roads enabled farmers to get their produce to more markets faster; the railroad transported goods and produce to yet further a-field markets, expanding trade and creating a hunger for exotic goods and tastes.  On a world scale, old tribal conflicts were replaced by a new sense of nationalism. Europe had solidified under national monarchs. And it seemed that those American states had finally made it as a world power, even after the bloodiest of Civil and territorial wars. The world seemed poised for the entry of the greatest century ever, the Twentieth Century! Most Americans were giddy with what they had been told the new century would bring— science and technology freeing ordinary people from the demands of physical labor. And what an exceptional a century it would be— both in greatness and in tragedy.

 

[i]  [http://www.goofball.com/jokes/facts/death_life_difference_The_Year_Is_1902

[ii] For you Mac/Apple Computer users, this is an unknown. You should be thankful you can utilize such a reliable CPU. Of course, having everything proprietary does limit one’s ability for diversification.

[iii] Commuting to work 1950-1960- take a bus. Commuting to work 1970- drive yourself. Commuting to work 1980- Car-pool it. Commuting to work 1990-2000- grab yourself a latte, sit down at your laptop, log-on… in your bunny slippers.

insanity

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, insane, core, values, change, It’s often said that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  Although attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the definition is so widely used that even the great genius himself may have usurped it elsewhere.

            Nonetheless, we all do it. We all continue in the same procedures, the same management practices, the same life-style choices, the same patterns of daily life, and wonder why things always seem the same; monotonous, flat, zestless, perfunctory. Ergo, insanity. And I am just as guilty as anyone else.

            So, how do we confront this irksome, repetitive monotony? Surely there are training courses and books and articles in abundance that can help us change our ways. But is it simpler than behavioral re-patterning? Is it more basic, something intrinsically connected to the human condition? This writer believes it to be so.

            Our desire for sameness is a reflection of our need for safety, stability, security. Change, though also needed and usually necessary, threatens our inherent security levels and launches us into uncertainty, hinting of future instability and a relinquishing of our personal and/or corporate safety.

            Change, whether it be continuous change (improvements on past ideas or inventions, like automobiles), or discontinuous change (major paradigm shifts, like smart-phones), is a natural challenge to our way of life. We need to adapt to the “new,” which implies letting go of the old. The earth is no longer flat; nor is the British Empire an empire; nor is the atom the smallest particle. Shifts in discovery and invention challenge the way we perceive our world: they change our patterns of life on an individual and global scale.

            When change is disruptive of our way of life, be it for better or worse, but especially for the worst, we must adapt and challenge what comes our way. The formations of nation-states across early China and medieval Europe were bloody affairs, uprooting peoples and destroying cities and lands. The same can be said for the formation of the United States. On a personal scale the arrival of a new baby is disruptive of a way of life; so also does moving your family to a new location bring uncertainty into the formerly predictable way of living. Insanity.

            This ever-changing, uncertain world makes it all the more imperative that each of us formulate a set of core beliefs and principles that are both true to reality and aligned with truth. To not have these core values in your life is to foster further instability and insecurity.

            It has taken me years to construct my core values; and they still require tweaking every year of so. What about you? Are you aware of your core values? At rock bottom, what holds you together?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

culturally incurious

A great friend of mine, and mastermind in all aspects of world-cultural history, once described a group of Christians as culturally incurious. An odd but insightful comment to be sure, but one that he would not make lightly; though much of his brilliance rolled off his tongue the way most of us would drool for pizza.

How many of us are culturally incurious? What we don’t know we don’t want to know: our world is fine the way it is. “Don’t bother me with more information I don’t want to think about. I don’t want my perception of the world challenged or changed. Leave me alone!”

For some people the deepest thinking they ever do is the decision to buy a truck or a cross-over, to watch NCIS or CSI: Miami. They are culturally incurious. If anyone challenges them that they might need a world view or a life philosophy they simply dismiss it as either not necessary to their nice little packaged life or too much work.

Why have so many of us, especially genuine Christians, lost most interest in the world around us? Why has our curiosity dissolved to little more than sound-bite news clips on TV?

Maybe we’re too pressured with our own problems. Maybe we believe that government should sort through this massive mess—it’s just too big for us to make a difference. Maybe we’re on information overload and refuse to handle even one more thought!

Whatever the reason, too many of us (genuine Christians) seem too content to attend church, tithe 2% off our net income, provide for our families, and strive to be as stress-free and as comfortable as possible the rest of the time.

What has happened to us?!? How about it, folks, can we make a difference in people’s lives around us? Can we support movements, organizations, political lobbies, and missions that are active change agents in our world? Sometimes I wonder if we have more of an interest in getting our bodies in shape that in getting our world in shape.

Life is messy: get used to it. Life is dirty: learn to build castles out of dirt. Life is painful: learn to celebrate in the midst of the pain. Life is hard: toughen up!

But, you say, I’m pretty beaten down, broken, and have little hope for the future. Don’t you know that our God wants to lift you out of the pain and mire and hold you in His arms? Why don’t you let Him do His job? And then go out and make a difference in our world!