Faith(102)

July 1, 2011

A famous entertainer had developed a habit that upon arising in the morning and taking care of the morning preparations he would stand in front of the mirror and recite special affirmations.   These were personal and uplifting and filled with love and appreciation.  He was a great star and had great faith in himself and his abilities.  Unfortunately his life ended with less than satisfactory results and social approval.   I’m purposely not revealing the name so as to not besmirch the individual.  The reasons I cite him in this post though is because I question “What went wrong?”    If he had faith how did his life end differently than what he would have wanted? I’m not sure if he had faith of if he was living in an illusion.

A  young adolescent boy about nine years old was asked one day “Son, what do you think faith is?’  He looked up and said plain as day, “Faith is something you believe in even thought in your heart you know it really isn’t true.” <(Source Unknown)   It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly what faith really, really is.   We know it when we see it but again it’s not really something you can hold in your hand.

According to Merrium-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of FAITH

1
a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

I am intrigued by 2b(1) “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

When I think of Jesus baptism  and his travails in the desert for forty days and forty nights, wasn’t he examining his faith?   When he prayed in Gethsemane and expressed that this cup be taken from him, was that doubt?

Faith is the belief in something outside of ourselves.  In many ways it is denial.  It is living outside The Consciousness of Now.  It is Future Redemption. It is Something More, a Greater Reality and Something Ahead and Something in the Future.

Again I say the our faith has to have Substance.  It must be Real.  It must be made Whole. The Entertainer was in some ways living an illusion, maybe his faith was misplaced(himself), maybe he also had contradictory thoughts throughout the day that voided his faith. Many many people have had misplaced faith and illusions.  Many of my friends and relatives have invested heavily in dreams, illusions, hopes and fears that I could see were bound for failure.   Frequently too, after the fact, they politely let me know when I had believed in a false Ideal. I also have seen people express great energy, vision and faith and proved me wrong.   Are those having the greatest faith just madmen living in institutions?  Are those that live in a purely materialistic, faithless world living on an island?  Should our faith be more practical? Now comes some of the favorites words that I like to say, “I don’t know…..”

I invite your input here about illusion, practicality, and faith. What are your experiences?  This is something that I need further imput on. It’s something that I am constantly trying to figure out.  Do I lack faith or do I just not want to believe in the wrong. I obviously do have faith because I have endured many, many trials in which I realized “Yes, Yes, you were right in your convictions!!”

I do have an absolute faith so allow me to quote from one of the most direct, simple, practical visionaries of our time:

I am looking for a lot of men who have infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.

                                                                        -Henry Ford

Advertisements

Empathy(102)

June 28, 2011

After my teenage introduction to empathy I proceeded along in life and more growth.   I did try to be empathetic with various individuals and although I was better than before I realize now that I was still a novice.  It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I got my next lesson in empathy.  I hate saying there are empathy skills because that goes against the whole grain of humanness.  Skill and empathy shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

I had joined for a short while a group that tried to help people with their problems.  This volunteer group was a group that was started around the local university in the 1960’s.   Their basic modus operandi was to take anonymous calls from people who seemed to be immediately experiencing problems or depression.     There was a rotating crew to handle the phone lines.  A caller might get a different person every time.  Dependency was to be discouraged but if people needed to call back again then so be it.

When this group was started it was at the height of Viet Nam, political upheaval, emerging drug use and experimentation,  the arrival of birth control  and with it free love.   Broken relationships, bad drugs trips, social disorientation were common everyday events.  The calls were anonymous for both caller and receiver.   Part of the reason was to ensure confidentiality.   The other reason was to help people open up and also to keep people from being dependant. If its anonymous it goes to the grave and no one knows. I heard about the group and it sounded like a great helping and learning opportunity.

I attended the two-day orientation and sat down in the auditorium.  Methods, rules and expectations were discussed for the potential members.  I was assimilating these things when the next most important life lesson in empathy occurred before me.   They proceeded with onstage demonstrations of caller/responder episodes.   Since it was visual and there didn’t need to be any phones they had the caller/responder sit back to back.  This aided us, the audience, because we still wanted to see them speaking but also it helped us concentrate on the voices as supposed phone calls.

I listened to the first caller and she was having a relationship problem.  She was pouring her heart out and the responder was giving these short, terse answers.  Now this is where the first disconnect with me came in.  I didn’t understand what was going on.  Truth to tell, the problem as I saw it was that the responder didn’t give any answers and I didn’t understand that.   As a man I’m a problem solver, a fixer, a repairer of anything with only baling wire and duct tape.  In a quick man’s synopsis I surmised that she should “dump the bum.”

The second caller/responder came on.  This caller was “higher than then a giraffe.”  A drug induced dialogue ensued.  The responder basically inquired on the caller’s safety and security. He asked what drugs the guy was on and if he was going to be OK.   The druggie rambled on and he sounded like he was lonely.   Again the quick, furtive responses were given and then the caller finally hung up.   In my mind I couldn’t figure out why the responder didn’t say “Hey dummy, don’t do drugs. They’re against the Law.”

The third caller came on.  He said that he sometimes contemplates suicide. In fact though he was still far from suicide.  The responder made the inquiry if that was an immediate condition(possible suicide) and found out it wasn’t. Again the responder replied in short “Uh huh” answers.   He listened and listened and listened.   There was no solution.  This guys life was a mess.  I didn’t know what I would’ve said.   Finally the call ended.  It did appear that the caller was feeling differently after the call.

The mediator came out and asked what had happened, did anyone notice anything.  A woman to my left said “He didn’t gave any answers.”   Everyone starts talking, “yeah or neh.”   I’m thinking it’s a failure, where’s the helping hand.  As the sound tones down the mediator says, “We don’t provide answers.  That’s Ann Landers job.   What we do is try to give people their voice,  we let them talk and that’s why they called.  They want someone to listen to them without judgement, acrimony, or fear.”  My second “empathy lesson” light was coming on.

The Volunteer Group’s job was helping people through right now, to carry on to tomorrow.  They didn’t believe in answers because of several reasons. Each human being should discover their own answers.  Frequently no one right answer exists.   None of the people were licensed psychologists or counselors.  To provide a so-called answer was against the law.   Instead references and directions were made for various forms of professional help if people were open to it.

To summarise the Group’s philosophy, they Validated people and they recognized their problems as real and urgent.  The means to reply wasn’t to give answers, it was to listen and communicate the worth of the individual. Their talking style was to say, “I understand, I feel for you, you’re important, your feelings are important, your ideas are important.”  That doesn’t mean that they never used the NO word, they did.  The object was to allow the caller to Vent their immediate feelings, to somehow come to grips with their own problem after a sometimes emotional discourse and then the caller could begin to SOLVE their own problems.   Frequently it would never make it that far.

What I learned was that solutions were out.  The other person’s thought’s and feelings are just about more important than anything in the world.  To facilitate this dialogue certain words and sentences are used to compel the caller to talk EVEN MORE.  The best way to get them talking is for the responder to talk almost as little as possible and to use momentum pushing words.   I’ve made list of the phrases and words and sentences that best accomplish this.  These are not my own but they do push the caller along. These are the MAGIC WORDS:

un huh

yep

really?

you don’t say!

tell me again!

for true!  (a southern expression)

what did you do next?

that must have been terrible, (or heartbreaking, difficult, taxing, frustrating, unbearable, embarrassing)

I hear that!

why!

what then?

you feel how?

I’ve done that too, many people have!

me too! (indicating their not alone)

whose says?

Each sentence is about 5 words or less. It’s important for the caller to go through the emotional catharsis first and then IF a solution can be found by the CALLER  they can make it their own.  Most of our solutions will be useless.   Again as I stated in another of my posts this is why therapy takes so long. The therapist is trying to guide the patient to their own conclusions.   This is the only way they can own them.

“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”

                                                                                                                 – Chinese Proverb

When you listen, what do you Honor?

June 13, 2011
I’m trying to tell her but she just doesn’t get it.  She brushes me off. I explain again. I try to make her see how crucial this is to me.  I become more emphatic.  She ducks and dodges and weaves from my finest arguments.  Finally, I really am arguing and she is too.  Our voices get louder and more and more sarcasm enters the picture. Finally we both are in full-fledged battle.   We break apart……and lick our wounds. 
 
It’s taken me a long time to understand how most of us have learned to communicate with one another.  We learn from our parents. We learn from TV and the movies. But most of those experiences don’t really reinforce positive communication.  From the media, movies, and TV world, positive communication is not good drama or entertainment. A most striking example is the English Parliament where insults and embarrassment appear to be the standard fare. The resolutions appear disappointing if people resolve things without acrimony.
 
Frequently when people discuss things, their focus can be on winning, scoring points, laying down the gauntlet, embarrassing their opponent. Sometimes it can manifest as absolute and total denial.  People want to preserve their identity and their illusions, particularly about their own image. Especially in America where we definitely have a whole sports culture that says that winning is everything. Every issue is engagement.
 
In marriage, relationships, and sometimes the work world this doesn’t work well.  We can’t run over our spouse, dominate our kids, and do whatever we want. 
 
One way to have a more adult relationship is to be “continually & willfully mindful” of what we are saying and what we are doing. I call this CWM.   When I fix this thought with a little axiom I can then fix it in my mind.  This CWM can be hard to do since our upbringing has indoctrinated us by TV and Movies to act less than our best.
 
Recently(the past two years), I’ve been trying to not honor power, force, sarcasm, winning and self-righteous behavior. Not that I consciously honored them, that’s my point, but that I have been taught to honor them.  I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I talk, how I sound, what I mean when I say certain things. 
 
I’ve made a list of conflict resolution arguments that I stay away from. Most of this list if from TV, Movies and personal experience. It’s a lengthy list of “don’t do’s” for avoiding arguments and staying on track, getting what you want without resorting to boorish behavior. It’s difficult to do.
 
 
It’s important to not:  use sarcasm
It’s important to not: use knee jerk reactions,  in responses or baiting.
It’s important to not: change the venue, “Another thing you did…”          
It’s important to not: use name calling, “Doodlehead, Crazyman,…”
It’s important to not: use Demonizing or Polarization, “You did..,” Us vs Them
 
It’s important to not: use one-upmanship behaviour, “At least I am…….”
It’s important to not: use a negative tone, another form of sarcasm or disdain
 
It’s important to not: use a cavalier manner or attitude 
It’s important to not: use impunity, “That’s too small to even worry about!!”
It’s important to not: Gesticulate, arm waving, finger-pointing, giving the finger…
 
It’s important to not: use tagging, “Yea, Jim is that way.”  indirect positioning
 
It’s important to not: use inverse tagging, “I’m the good one.”
It’s important to not: use Short Shrifting to undermine others 
It’s important to not: use  Buckshot Charges, “You did A, B, C, D, & E.”
It’s important to not: use Blanket Denial, “It’s ALL WRONG, the WHOLE PACKAGE”
 
It’s important to not: use Stonewalling, (defensiveness) 
It’s important to not: use Stiff-Arming
It’s important to not: use “So What” Answers, People’s feelings, ideas & opinions count
 
It’s important to not: use Brush-Off Answers
It’s important to not: use Plausible Deniability
It’s important to not: use Punt, Fumble, Out oF Bounds Answers
or Arguments
It’s important to not:…………..
 
There are an endless supply of bad arguments and answers.
 
I’ve been trying to shift to good responses, earnest responses, and real answers to real questions.  I found that it wasn’t enough  to just agree with GOOD ANSWERS.  It wasn’t enough to just try to work with people.   I had to HONOR the sensible way out.  I have to lift that good measure up as an ideal and make it and keep it real.  
 
I realized from my list of conflict resolution arguments that it’s real easy to mess up and it’s extremely difficult to stay on track and resolve things honorably. 
 
The things that I HONOR now are civility, kindness, dialogue, others input, truth no matter the source.  It’s important to value the merit of ideas regardless of another’s high or low status.
I’m willing to take the short disappointments because now I’m playing the long game.  Not as a game but as a way to treat others and myself honorably and respectfully. 
 
P.S. This is a work in progress for me.
 
Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
                                         -Mary Wortley Montagu
 
 
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”
 
        -Socrates

Empathy(101)

June 4, 2011

I was thirteen. I knew as much as any other thirteen year old boy which was almost nothing. We were crossing the football practice field on the way to my house.  My friend Jon was recently broke up with his girlfriend.  “What am I going to do now?”, he said. The breakup was not his idea.  He had been sullen and quiet all day. “I was really starting to like her a whole lot!  Do you think I should call her again in about a week?”   I started to say “Yea” but I didn’t really know and in fact I actually didn’t really care.   I didn’t really know what to say so I punted and said, “Gee, I don’t know.” I didn’t know anything way back then. Jon clammed up again.

We finally get to my house and sit down at the kitchen table. My mother comes in, says ‘Hi”,  and proceeds to take care of the dishes she had washed earlier. I’m talking to Jon and he really isn’t responding. My mother senses that something is wrong and asks Jon point-blank  if he’s OK. He blurts out that “Nancy and I broke up with each other.   She wants to see other guys.”   My mother just looks at him and then she says, “Really, did you want to talk about it?” He says “Yea.”  She sits down and him and her start talking.  He starts talking about Nancy.

I just sat there.  My hands propping up my head, my eyes going back and forth with their words.   I didn’t really want to do this.  I didn’t even know it but I was afraid to “go there.”

At this point an amazing thing happened.  I started to see. I listened and saw that my best friend, Jon, actually had very strong feelings for Nancy.  I saw that my Mom knew how to talk to him and how to listen to him.  I saw my friend and I saw my Mom in a totally different light. They talked for about 40 minutes.  For sure my Mom had talked to me like that before but she was my Mom, that’s what Mom’s do.  I didn’t know she could talk that way with others or that it was even acceptable. 

 My Mom saw a need that wasn’t food, wasn’t warmth, and wasn’t security.   She saw that my friend needed some solace, he needed a balm.  Her words weren’t magic, in fact I can’t remember one sentence that stands out from my memory.  She somehow managed to find out how he was feeling. More importantly she allowed him to vent his feelings and to validate them. She listened to HIM.  She affirmed that many people have had the same feelings. She shared some of her own experiences and knowledge of boyfriend/girlfriend stories.

He still didn’t feel great, but I could tell that what my Mom had said, had made an impact on him.  Finally he turned to me and said “lets go back to my house.” We left and made our way across the practice field.  Jon turned to me about halfway across and said without judgement that “the way your Mom let me talk and explain myself was the way I wanted you to talk with me.”  At the time I fumbled some sort a of an apology.  Inside I knew he that was right. What good are your friends if they can’t lift you up or support you?   But for me at that young an age, I didn’t even know what the word was for what had happened.  Later I learned the word was Empathy. The word means “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another(Dictionary.com).”

My Mom showed me.

My friend told me.

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
                                                              -Meryl Streep

Spiritual Perseverance

May 29, 2011

Recently it was brought to my attention that “I’ll never find what I’m looking for.” The point was made that it’s obvious that I’m searching and I need to settle. I disagree, no surprise here. I’m not purposely trying to surf or spin. I’m not trying to say I’m constantly dissatisfied.  I’m not trying to be obstinate. 

Much of what people think that I need to settle on is “an external object.”  What’s my book? What religion am I in?  Who’s my Savior? What teachings do I adhere to? I believe that I’m a spiritual being and that you are too. 

I once read a story(recalled to the best of my memory) about a CIA analyst/Salt Treaty Advisor that was being interviewed on the history of the cold war and the US/Soviet Arms Race Buildup.  He was questioned at length about the cold war, what it was, how it happened. The interviewer finally inquired on the Advisors’ role in the Salt Treaty.  “Since you’ve worked for about 25 years monitoring the weapons and the Russians, why are you working with them now, what is different now?” he asked. The advisor put down his coffee and looked the interviewer right in the eye, “Yes, you’re right, I’ve been at this a long time. Most of my career, in fact. The difference today is that the Russians now are actually going to give something.”  The interviewer looked at the analyst and said, “You mean you have sat in your chair for twenty-five years just waiting for the Russians.”   The Analyst smiled and said “Yep, waiting for them to give something of value, something of substance and something real.  Everything before this was just words, research and posturing. We now finally, after twenty-five years, really have something we can hang our hat on.”

That’s the way I feel.

Part of what I’m trying to say is “We aren’t there yet.” How can we be since the world is so divided?

Spirituality is a process, not an object. It has no beginning and no end.  I or we, will never arrive.  We can stand still(an illusion), step back or step forward but no matter what we are in constant spiritual flux.

I, as much or even more than others, would love to find that spot or Ideal realized. Like a moth to the flame, wouldn’t any of us sacrifice ourselves for greater and total reunion with God.

My position is not anxiousness, it’s Patience. It’s not wanderlust, but the insistence of Spiritual Certainty.

I believe that our greatest communion is self to God, our greatest values are worked through our community, and Truth & Justice transcends Religion and Borders.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

                                                            – Matthew 18:20

Moral Theory Part 2 (What Liberals Need To Know)

May 22, 2011

I’m trying to cover all facets of Spirituality so that includes the practical.  My Spirituality posts includes prayers, dreams, relationships, people, history, & how things work. Morals would certainly fall under that category so lets look at Moral Theory. Moral Theory is sometimes hard to understand. The reason it’s important is because we are no longer children.   As adults we can see that things are no longer wrong or right, black or white.  In trying to make moral decisions we have entered the realm of Abstract Thinking, trying to balance multiples of concerns to find right answers.  Take your time to assimilate Moral Theory research. It can be examined at the websites as shown at the bottom of the post.

When I became aware of Jon Haidt’s(and his colleagues) research of new Moral Theory concepts it totally amazed me.  Most of my life I’ve been a bleeding heart liberal.   Mr. Haidt and his colleagues have pursued research beyond some of the Original Moral Theories.     In essence there are more deciding issues of  moral decision-making then if things only fall into the 1) Harm/Care and  2)Fair/Reciprocity categories.   He(and his colleagues) have  investigated an ongoing realization that  3)Authority, 4)Ingroup/Loyalty, &  5)Purity/Sanctity were concepts that many people use in the moral decision process. 

Liberals make decisions  principally with:

       1) Harm/Care

       2)Fair/Reciprocity

                 Or put another way : Does it Harm anyone and is it Fair?

Conservatives also take into account the issues of:

      3)Authority

      4)Ingroup/Loyalty

       5)Purity/Sanctity

               So Conservatives also add in :  What Authority does it have to make it right, is it in the group and are they loyal, &  does it uphold sacred values and purity.

 These precepts are important reasons why Liberals and Conservatives are different.   While liberals are deciding if the issues are doing harm or if they are fair, conservatives are also asking What does the Boss think, does it fit the group and loyalty model, & does it uphold sacredness and purity.

Mr. Haidt(and his colleagues) realized the Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory Community was mostly liberal and so in some ways couldn’t really support their theses and Scientific Papers on their selective and subjective research methods.  In essence, they suffered themselves from confirmation bias(the idea that they favored their own position).  The Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory community was about 80 – 90 % Liberals and so they could not even judge real Moral Theory because they only listened to their own voice. 

At this point in time Mr. Haidt(& his colleagues) also realized that History & Anthropology showed a preponderance of evidence that people have mostly used the added Conservative Values of 3)Authority, 4)Ingroup/Loyalty, & 5)Purity/sanctity.  Our county, America, is one of the first nations that ensured Liberty, Freedom, and Independence. Because of that we have a very modern Liberal constituency that could argue with Authority, deny Groupthink, and to even  question and oppose Sacred Issues.   Most countries and societies are still Authority, InGroup/Loyalty, and Purity/Sanctity oriented. In essence the Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory Community was wrong(or at least very slanted) and they should have at least considered these values in their research, papers and books.

NOW WE COME TO THE REAL POINT OF THIS EXACT POST

It appears the Mr. Haidt considers his position now, not as a liberal, but a centrist liberal(he used the words liberal Democrat and centrist Democrat).   I THINK THAT I DO TO.

As a former bleeding heart liberal I NEVER CARED WHAT THE AUTHORITIES THOUGHT,  I DIDN’T CARE WHAT THE GROUP THOUGHT, AND I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT FALSE SANCTAMONIOUS ISSUES.  I now realize that I may have been at least partly wrong(…a little crow,….slice of humble pie,…gulp).

The quick and dirty way that I can finish this is to give those examples of the other three Moral Theory choices that I know now have enriched my life.

Together we are greater than the sum of our parts(Authority, Ingroup).

Without my family I would be a mess(Ingroup, sanctity)

Without these things the center will not hold(Authority, Ingroup).

Mob rule needs direction and cohesion(Authority, Ingroup)

Preservation of society is important(Authority, Ingroup, Sanctity)

Children deserve to mature to adulthood(Ingroup, Sanctity)

Authority  & Society can sometimes provide role models, leadership, & direction(Authority, Ingroup, Sanctity).  

More sometime later on “Why I was only liberal.”

The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.”

             – Mark Twain

 These are the big ideas that take some time to wrap our heads around, the full meaning can’t be understood until we digest it slowly and completely. Because of that I highly recommend that you, the reader of this post, examine it at length on you own.

Here is The MoralFoundations.org Site: 

http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/mft/index.php

John Haidt’s Morals lesson in video.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs41JrnGaxc

New York Times article         

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html

Take a test to find out your “Morals position” 

http://www.yourmorals.org/explore.php

Prayer(105)

May 20, 2011

There are about 6.8 billion souls on the planet(in human form). Obviously more souls have reincarnated at this point  in time than at any other time(we think). If you’ve read my Prayer(102) then you know that I’ve made an argument for praying for the supposedly deceased souls in the hereafter.

Since I believe in Reincarnation and since there are about 6.8 billion souls on the planet, many of the people who I’ve prayed for are probably NOT in the hereafter. In the prior post I made the statement of prayer for the deceased, even those that entered the hereafter centuries ago.  My tweak on that concept in this post is that since so many souls currently inhabit the earth, many of those that have supposedly passed on in the whole skein of time have probably been reborn NOW. They are right here with us on good old planet earth.   They are our peers again, or we are their peers.

 The people who by some providence had happened onto my prayer list may in fact be in our current time. Today’s prayers for the hereafter include Charlie Parker, Grace Kelly, Winston Churchill, Redd Foxx, and Claude Pepper.  But they may very well be in the Here and Now learning new lessons.  So again, why would we stop praying for people based on the theory that they have ascended or again been well-placed in the hereafter. Maybe they have been well-placed in the Here and Now. We can stand to think of reasons to pray.   Idle moments create a vacuum that can be filled with prayer.  Referencing the theme of my prior post, we can pray for the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, the mechanic, & the accountant.   But we shouldn’t pray on up and down status…so, we should also pray for the Kings & Queens, Presidents, Prime ministers, Senators and Representatives,  & CEO’s. Then we should also pray for the Minsters, Mullahs, and Priests.  We can decide to pray for ALL people like it’s one world. Dead, undead, reborn, recently returned, status or no status, religious and irreligious…makes no difference.   We are all ONE, all the time.

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

                                              – Mahatma Gandhi

 
 

Spiritual Capitalism: Who is our customer?

May 17, 2011

Recently I saw an online poster picture of a saying that said, “A person who is nice to you, but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.” That kind of sums it up. When we go out and about in the world are we aware that God is everywhere always. It’s a hard consciousness to acquire because for us mere mortals that’s what it is, coming into consciousness.

When we meet people, those meetings are not happenstance encounters. There are no accidents. If we look at people we can see God’s Love/Karma to fulfill in every moment. God is always there in the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, the mechanic and the accountant. God is also our boss, our wife, our children and our parents. We can just see them as examples of Christ or spiritual beings and treat them as such.  The waiter example is perfect. Are we normally nice, civil, courteous to ALL.   Especially since a waiter has to fulfill their job.   If anything goes terribly amiss can’t we find recourse always with the management.  Isn’t it up to us to give people the benefit of the doubt.

We would do well to emulate that consideration of the other person, like we were the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, or the accountant. We should serve them. Not as a role reversal, but as Spiritual Beings ourselves.  We should pay it forward. 

If you want to invest in something(because we believe in ourselves), if you still think you want to promote something, why not advance the ideas of God’s economy: Love, charity, civility, tolerance, understanding & kindness. Not in personal selfishness but in collective wholeness. Not in “I’ll get mine” but “someday we’ll get there…together.”

My co-spiritual advocate Souldipper has stated it best in one of her comments, “not as promotion but as example.”  I’m not saying be nice to get yours, I’m saying that the seemingly simple act of love and consideration is the most meaningful thing we can do.  For all intents and purposes our world normally might say”Well, I didn’t get anything out of that gesture.” In fact though those considerations may very well be some of the most important things in the universe.

I’m saying that as we walk out and about that we should not be thinking, even subconsciously, “oh, an important person, an unimportant person, an important person, an unimportant person….”, they are all important, all the time. Everyone is our customer.

When chance meeting that other person we should remember this,

He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.
                                                                   Plato

Spiritual Book Review: Your God Is Too Small

May 11, 2011

“Your God Is Too Small” by J. B. Phillips is an excellent book . This is a classic Religious/Spiritual book that was originally published in 1952.   I read it for my first time around about 1989. The book details the outdated ideas and misconceptions that people may have about God.  First, let me say that I don’t know if God is definable.   I have matured(a little) that I know a lot of what God isn’t.   This book basically shows how our childhood, teenage, & even adult definitions are probably out of date and that we ourselves don’t believe them.   After dispelling some old-time myths and misconceptions it then goes into thinking of  what God could be and such like that.  Because this writer was a thinker with abstract thoughts, it can sometimes seem dry. The book sections are Destructive Concepts and Constructive Concepts.

Allow me to cite some chapter names with some observations, that kind of says it all.  

Destructive concepts

1. Resident Policeman  

              This is God as a disciplinarian

2. Parental Hangover

            This is God as the nagging parents.

3. Grand Old Man

             God as GrandDad

 Excerpt interpretation…a research project of teenage youths revealed their sub-conscious thought about God being outdated.  When asked in the research “Does God understand radar?”  Instinctively many answered “No”.  Then they laughed because obviously God knows more than radar, Right?

4. Meek and Mild….

              Sweet Jesus

5.Absolute Perfection

              God is perfect, I think,….but is he/she static and inert or is he/she constantly growing also. Perfection may not exist.

Eight more Destructive Concept chapters.   You’ll have to read the book.

Constructive concepts

1. God unfocused

 My take on this chapter…..one of man’s projections of God with human attributes is the belief that if God is impersonal and gigantically huge than he can’t possibly know all things about all people.  This is making God out to be as a CEO or President of the United States. He can run the store but has little conception of the detail.  If we stop ascribing to God human attributes then we could see that God probably does know all things, everywhere with everybody. This is the belief that God is finite and his energies will thin out and be less applicable. In truth God is the Ultimate multi-tasker.

2. A Clue To Reality….

…….

11. Christ and the Question Of Sin

14.The Abolition If Death

A total of 16 Constructive Concept chapters. You’ll have to read the book.

Why this book is important is because as children we are told what God is and slowly over the years that initial idea may be tweaked or modified.   The problem with that is that the nature of God is very rarely completely explored and examined in-depth. 

I would rate this book 8 out of 10 stars, ********.  In all honesty I have to say that this book is NOT inspirational, I didn’t feel uplifted as in a sermon or a feeling.   However it does give great insight and understanding about our wrongly held beliefs in God.  I personally found that very  helpful.  It may be in the local or university libraries.  

 ISBN Number 0-7432-5509-7

124 pages

http://www.amazon.com/Your-God-Too-Small-Believers/dp/0743255097/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305072558&sr=1-1

Marriage (102)

May 6, 2011

 It’s amazing to me, that in most of the Western Civilized world, we predominantly marry for love(not that it’s a bad thing).  In the past and in certain geographical areas of the world that has not always been the case.  It’s amazing because its something that should really be taken with very much more consideration. 

Have you ever gone to the casino and bet the family business?  Me neither.  However a fair amount of us fall in love, decide this is “the one” and get married.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  We actually make the biggest decision of our lives based on an immediate emotional state.  Why is that important? Because essentially a lot of marriage is a business.  If you don’t believe me just ask the lawyers. They’re the ones that negotiate the fate of the company when it breaks up. Marriage is a legal obligation. This is why pre-nups were invented. Marriage is usually recognized by the church or the state or both. While the institutions have to deal with the custody, financial, and property rights it’s usually the individuals that have to bear the burden of the breakup. You don’t want to be in that spot.

In the prior centuries and in other countries people have also married for Royalty reasons, security reasons, status reasons, family loyalty obligation, and money reasons.  Examples: A Prince to a Princess(for the continued illusion of Blue Blood), a marriage between Royalty for the binding of two previous warring countries, the marriage to the CEO and in turn the Trophy Wife, an arranged marriage as done in Asian countries such as China until 1950, and the taking of a wife with the biggest dowry.

If you’re idealistic(naive) like me, you may think that Love conquers all……..well, sometimes it does, but not always.   There are other facets of love beyond mere attraction and likability. Things like respect, patience, understanding, tolerance, and even being blind at the appropriate moment.    

If I had my way( and I usually don’t), it would be mandatory that everyone would have about six months of therapy before they got married.

If I had my way( and I usually don’t),  it would be mandatory that everyone would have to take a marriage test. A written test; with multiple choice, true and false, and essay(although the test would not be a pass/fail determiner qualification).  I myself may not have passed the test, but the point being that people should think about their decision in an adult and mature fashion(is that naive or idealistic!!!).

Things to think about before marriage:

Will there be a Honey-Do list?   A reciprocal Honey-Do list(can they handle each other’s list)?  What is a Honey-Do list?

Are Spiritual/Religious Values important?  Is it necessary to be absolutely alike, or is each finding their own path.  For sure to have a succesful union to work it will have to at least have both people sharing the same Values and Ideals but maybe not necessarily the same institution.  

Sexual/Emotional compatibility is important also.  Sexual incompatibility can destroy a marriage.  If sexual abstinence is observed before marriage then it might be a good idea to obtain a Sex Manual and review and discuss EVERY page together. Sure we want discovery on the honeymoon but not unwarranted rejection or ignorance.  Sexual compatibility should not be presumed. Again another issue that can just be blindly misunderstood.

Emotional compatibility is important to compare and share very simple things.  Can he listen? Can she listen?  Is he morose and she upbeat?  Is she sullen and he anxious?  Emotional outlook is very important. Is he/she happy in other situations besides just being with you.  See how they are in the supermarket, the restaurant, long trips, short trips, and every other situation without them tailoring their needs to yours.   What you may find may shock you.   If they’re only nice in your presence then eventually they may be unnice to you.   If they’re not courteous to the help, waiters, attendants,and service people then they eventually may not be nice to you.

More stuff: In-laws, parents, children, discipline, household/yard/car chores, shared interests, vacations, travel, friends, food & cooking, politics, House & Home. Everything is on the table.

Beginnings:  It’s a very good idea to disclose ALL of your BAGGAGE if you can, ask them for their own. It’s a very good idea to declare absolute DEAL BREAKERS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. It’s a very good idea to declare ABSOLUTE MUSTS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. The very reason to declare this stuff is it won’t be nice and it won’t be settled later.  Address it now.

Last words almost: Men, marriage requires maintenance just like other things in your life, Ladies, don’t expect to change him after the marriage, it’s too late then.

None of these things need complete agreement from both parties, however, there should be a majority of agreement or at least understandings of the differences with future noted expectations.

With all that is said it should still be noted that even smart people get divorced, mature people get divorced, religious people get divorced, it’s not the end of the world.

I do believe that marriage for love is very, very good. But…I also believe that it’s OK to be smart.  The two are not incompatible.

I found this excellent quote(with no last name given):

It’s not who you are to the world, it’s who you are to me. It’s not how many times I say I love you… it’s how much I really do.
                                                            – Mary Ann