Posts in Loves
What Makes a Life? (Infographic)

The clearest instruction for
human thriving across both testaments of Scripture is this: to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  And while these imperatives have been recited ad nauseum for the marketing of various endeavors, we are left with very real questions: What is a self? Why is it framable as heart, mind, SOUL, and body (strength)? What’s love got to do with it? And why was this both Moses and Jesus’ clear path to thriving human culture? 

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Ethnography: Understanding your Family Fabric

Family. We all have one. Adopted, only-child, parent grandparent, estranged son, regardless of how we feel about it how much time we spend with them, holiday traditions or Thanksgivings alone, our families are part of the rich relationship network that is making us who we are. No one right answer for everyone.  Family’s are often the venue for our most traumatic moments of isolation and abuse as well as some of our most ecstatic experiences of joy and connection.

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5 Steps to Difference-Making

We live in a time of unprecedented calls for action. As the internet and the democratization of digital media have afforded us access to a globe of problems and voices to attune us to those problems, we are awash with should-do passions.  If you traffic in social media, you cannot go 24 hours without someone (usually with some urgency) pressing you to join their cause, repost their meme, change your ways.  Apparently the world is very awry and well should be terribly worked up about it.

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The World Is Wide Enough

I slept late this morning, through my wife's alarm, through the sound of kids waking and asking to have their bums wiped.  Hard sleep.  When I finally broke to the morning, my wife stopped by the bed and gave me a firm embrace.  

"I just wanted to do that because everything in the world is so wrong."

I wept a little.  For at least the 15th time this week. I wept because she was right and I wept because she was wrong. Right in that so much had gone wrong, but wrong in the since that there was still space--I hoped--for so much to go right. 

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The Sacred and the Profane

In my normal day life, I do an unconventional mix of marketing management, corporate training, project development, vendor relations and unofficial spiritual direction, all under the heading of Chief Operating Officer.  I rarely use THIRTYSIXWORDS to talk about my professional life, not because they aren’t interrelated, but because I struggle in the same war as so many of you: the fight to compartmentalize and put things in boxes. It is my instinct, like yours, to separate life into (seemingly) controllable frames. And from those frames keep my mashed potatoes from getting gussied up by my peas and carrots. I seek to divide good and evil and in controlling the categories of the sacred and the profane I, like you, seem to keep the edges from getting too loose. And isn’t control what it’s all about after all?

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Liberating a Rich Man

Below, we address one of the most controversial of New Testament passages (Mark 10:17-31), a story used to justify class warfare, to establish power differentials between paid church staff and laity and all-too-often as a lever for guilt and shame as people haven't "Let go" of enough to earn their way to the Kingdom.  As you can see from the retelling below, this modern day frame on an ancient text couldn't be farther from the rich meaning cased within.

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The Problem with the Bible

In all my years among the Bible-believers, one thing has become increasingly true: we have a problem with the Bible. It is not the problem that the thumpers would have you believe that we just need to read it more and then obey what we read.  I had the lead in a Sunday morning musical entitled “The Bible Tells Me So Show,” (a riff on Jeopardy!) as a child.  I know a lot about reading the text and doing what it says.  And in all my experience, this admonition has does us little good in the work of real transformation.  In fact, the evidence shows that the trend in such trite admonitions is that it has proven to harden the hearts of the convinced and the not-so, deepen the divide between the insiders and the outsiders, and build up a pantheon of exegetical celebrities whose fame is purely based on their ability to guilt us into more “Biblical” action. 

No, read-it-more/do-what-it-says is not our problem. 

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Landmarks of a Transforming Life

The Self-Help section is one of the largest at Barnes and Noble, and without a doubt high on the profitability scale.  The idea of an accessible and simple formula for lifetime success has now even seeped into the biography section.  There was a time when one read biographies to view from the long end of history how a life had been formed by experience, choice and belief.  Not today.  Today, the majority of “biographies” more accurately stand as mid-life memoirs (some earlier than that) and they don’t intent to map out the story of life so far, but instead to manipulate the events of an unfinished life into the few short platitudes which can create tips for a ravenous public. 

Our new ways of defining human thriving have so denigrated our ability to stand in our own skin and to relate to each other with love and respect that anyone with an objective view would jettison these views in an instant.  But without a meaningful alternative, an attainable counter-narrative to the way to life, the deep and addictive rut of the status-quo will continue to hold us in its sway. Thankfully this counter-narrative is not far off.  There are signs for optimism.

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