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!

check points

March 31st was determined as the last day of the year under the Julian Calendar of the Roman Empire. But this set in motion a time-drift of approximately 11 minutes a year between vernal equinoxes. By the time church astronomers recalculated the loss in time 10 days had been lost since Roman times. When this was reported to Pope Gregory XIII, he signed a Papal Bull (Inter gravissimas) correcting the time-loss, establishing a new calendar in 1582 (named the Gregorian Calendar, appropriately) that also designated December 31st as the last day of the year. [Albeit, many Protestants, including the Pilgrims, continued to use the Julian Calendar in opposition to the Church’s injunction, insisting on March 31st as the last day of the year.]

In this postChristian era, New Year’s Eve has been elevated (or denigrated) to a time of Baucus revelry and celebration, including the consumption of liberal amounts of alcohol. For many, New Year’s Eve is a time of laying aside the mistakes of the past and making resolutions of doing better in the coming year. As we all know this doesn’t work out so much; though for 1-2 weeks it seems right.

Nonetheless, it is good and right to establish check points throughout life to measure the progress made toward our aspirations. New Year’s Eve is probably a more significant point as it also marks the shift in the civil calendar. So as you begin your celebrations for the New Year, you may find it enjoyable and enlightening to reminisce on your life-progress of this past year.

On a 1-10 scale, what progress did you make toward your aspirations in —

– Your awareness of who you are

– Your sense of integrity

– Resolving interpersonal crises

– Your work-ethic

– Being safe before God

– In making a difference in life

– In learning to lead by example

– Being gracious

– Trusting others

– Letting go

Please complete these check points BEFORE further consumption of alcohol.

Happy New Year!



011_edited-1For most people in Western cultures Christmas is about giving gifts. Whatever your economic level, you want to give gifts—whether home-made or purchased, even at great expense. For many, this is all Christmas is about, with a sprinkling of parties, decorations (some to exceptional heights), & very special treats, like Christmas cookies. Not that this is all that bad. It certainly is not! For all the giving (read buying), decorating, and celebrating fills the air with a sense of good will, of caring for our fellow human being, and of fostering peace on earth, good will toward men.

Now that we live in a postChristian culture, and have since the early 1980s, it strikes me as somewhat miraculous that we celebrate the entrance of the God of the universe onto our insignificant meager planet. Of course, His story, that of the First Christmas & beyond, has been relegated to the traditionalists, conservatives, and religious types of Christendom decayed.

So what is the place of the genuine Christian during this secular holiday season? Is it to withdraw into our ancient celebrations of joy around the birth of the world’s Saviour? Is it to ignore the world’s celebration altogether? Or, maybe, to enter into it with moderation? Maybe it should be celebrated only in the confines of our own families, and church?

For our part, my wife and I intend to celebrate Christmas, the historical birth of the Christ-child, who would one day save our world, as well as the cultural Christmas celebrated by those around us, until the cows come home. Actually, we don’t own any cows; but you get the point! If we can inspire anyone in this economically doomed, war-torn, pain wracked, broken world to celebrate Christ in the midst of their pain, sorrow, and fear, then we will have opened a window for the Spirit of God to enter in to bring healing, peace, love, and His deep regeneration for a new life within.

The Wassail is boiling on the wood stove. Come on over! You are welcome here…, as it is in heaven.

May God grant you the restoration to life you long for this Christmas,



Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, fear, terrified, suicide, life, insecure,Far too many people around our planet survive their days in petrifying terror. Whether due to the horrors of war, abusive families, or constant failures, they have become a class of human beings who dread life. Their intense fear fossilizes them into a dormant state of seclusion from life’s activities, people, and society. Eventually, they lose any accurate connection with true-realityand cocoon themselves within their ever shrinking world. For some, it is just too much to bear and they execute the ultimate separation from their fear. They end their life.

Terrorized people are oft categorized as recluses, hermits, most fourteen year olds, monks, ascetics, and those with paranoia and/or phobias. We think of these people as mentally ill; and some probably are. They range from insecure youths to the executive offices of corporate and governmental leaders: they are among the under-dogs and the privileged. The common fear they possess knows no rank or race. It is a soundless terror eating away at their soul.

Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream, depicts his own horror in a moment of realization that death awaits us all. He too lived a life of constant terror, bordering incessantly on insanity. Even though his works have received international acclaim as some of the finest examples of Expressionist Art, Munch ultimately isolated himself from the world outside in his estate at Ekely (Skøyen, Oslo) where he died at age 80. Throughout his life he remained deeply obsessed with morbid pietism and psychoneurosis. “The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.” [Prideaux, Sue (2005), Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, New Haven: Yale University Press, p.2.]

It is often impossible to overcome such a deeply rooted sense of dread. Nonetheless, there are many who have overcome being terrified of life and reentered the land of the living. How?

  1. Some have gotten angry. Tired of this life-sucking way of living they finally got mad enough to fight back. They fought themselves; a fight never easy of enjoyable to wage. Until you win. (Note- they often had to fight other peoples’ perceptions of them as well.)
  2. Many have admitted their inability to beat this agony alone and sought the support of others. No man is an island. Seeking another’s support takes an active decision to trust. Trust is indispensable in defeating terror. It is a risk that must be taken.
  3. They did not give up after every falter or failure. THEY DID NOT GIVE UP. But they really wanted to.
  4. Many have turned to God in prayer. Whether you view prayer as truly talking to the God of the universe or not, prayer seems to elicit some form of cleansing, healing, and peace. Personally, I actually talk to Someone. What bothers me is when God talks back.
  5. They rejoiced as pieces of pain were lifted from their souls. Small victories.
  6. Some, whom I have counseled, also danced and sang. This self-therapy surprised me. In some way it freed their spirits to soar above the terror and gave them new perspectives on it.

Living a continuously terrified life is not a life. It is an inner death sentence being carried out long before actual death. May God grant you His power to speed you on your journey to new life!

Have a nice week,



Andrzej Otrębski

What would you be like if you were utterly and completely unleashed? No restraints, no inhibitions, no one putting on the brakes or thwarting your efforts; you are absolutely in control! What would you be like? Who would you be? What would you do? What potential has lain dormant within, long awaiting an opportunity to burst forth? What dreams would realize their fulfillment? What fears set free?

Would you buy everything you’ve ever dreamed of? Would you give away large sums of money to worthwhile projects and people? Would you set up an organization to feed the world’s impoverished, to rid our world of tyrannical régimes, warlords, unethical politicians and businessmen? Would you promote “pure religion, undefiled?” How much good might you be able to accomplish given the possibility that there was nothing, nothing holding you back? Right now…, dream about it. What would you do if nothing could stop you?

Of course, most of us live a life of limitations. Commitments, responsibilities, mortgages, rent, college loans, car loans, even TV loans! Daily obligations swirl around us like a tornado, spinning us deeper into a vortex of the ever increasing winds of captivity. Prometheus Bound. We seem never strong enough to break free from the chains that bind us. To be sure, much of our bondage stems from financial over-commitment. What was that adage? “Expenses rise to meet income.” Far too many of us passed that marker long ago.

Now it must be stated emphatically that being truly unleashed is not simply about being financially affluent; it is not all about money. Rather, it is more a matter of consistently removing yourself from Position #1, and intentionally relegating yourself to a lower place along the human food chain. Position #2 is a good start; but why not Position #14, or #79? To become genuinely unleashed you must learn to place the needs, the brokenness, and the pain of others ahead of your own. The amount of our wealth, energy, and time do we reinvest into our family, our neighbors, and our society will have a direct bearing on the shackles that bind us If our bottom line continues to be profit, our chain will hold us ever more tightly to Prometheus’ Rock. And, like Prometheus, it will repetitively eat away at us.

Relaxing our clutch on those external things that we grasp for security has a peculiar side effect— it breaks our vice-grip on the non-essentials that bind our hearts and spirits within. We become something other than once we were. We become truly free. A continual releasing of things comes with a surprise; we might awake one morning and feel we are genuinely unleashed. Now we can grab life and give it all we have! But it all starts with stepping down from being #1.