Church Sleeping

November 18, 2010 1 comment

“The only statistic I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.” – Attributed to Queen Victoria

If you have ever been to church, you probably have either witness some sleeping or have missed it because you were actually the one sleeping.

What I’m wondering is, what if Church is actually the one asleep?

Check out these ideas about the gap between what the Church believes and everyday life (I got this from Robert Bank’s book, Redeeming the Routines).

1.      Few of us apply or know how to apply our belief to our work, or lack of work.

2.      We only make minimal connections between our faith and our spare time activities.

3.      We have little sense of a Christian approach to regular activities like domestic chores.

4.      Our everyday attitudes are partly shaped by the dominate values of our society.

5.      Many of our spiritual difficulties stem from the daily pressure we experience (lack of time, exhaustion, family pressures, etc.).

6.      Our everyday concerns receive little attention in the church.

7.      Only occasionally do professional theologians address routine activities.

8.      When addressed, everyday issues tend to be approached too theoretically.

9.      Only a minority of Christians read religious books or attend theological courses.

10.  Most churchgoers reject the idea of a gap between their beliefs and their ways of life.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Categories: Reflections, Religion

Pocket Aces and Poverty

October 25, 2010 1 comment

 

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker is a game of probability, skill, strategy, psychology, and luck.  But, mostly probability.

I think the only luck part is what hand you are dealt.  After that it is mostly building strategy around the probability of winning with the cards you have been dealt and the ones that come after.  The good players know how to create good strategies with bad hands because they are the ones everyone gets dealt more often than not.

But let’s say, that I could get dealt two aces every time.  Regardless of what others are dealt, I am going to get the best hand around 70% of the time.  And, let’s say you get a 2 and a 7 from two different suits, every time.  That jumps my odds to 90% of having a better hand than you.

Starting every game with two aces in my hand does not guarantee me a win.  In fact, I could stand to lose more chips with my loses because I know I am going to win most of the time.  But, at the end of the day, after hundreds of rounds, regardless of my skill or yours, I am going to take home most of the chips all the time.

Aces are not better than twos or sevens.  Each card is made of the same material.  But the rules of the game make them of higher value.

White, Middle Class, Straight, Males with a decent education are not better than anyone else.  We are made of the same material.  But, it seems the structure of our society deals us the higher percentage cards every round.

So… in the context of poverty in the United States, I am wonder what odds I have, based on the luck of the deal, at experiencing poverty and/or breaking the cycle of poverty.

And, I wonder what the odds are for people who always get dealt the 2 of spades and 7 of hearts.

Some questions that are rolling around my head as I fiddle with my chips.

1.      In real life, what is the strategy for the person who keeps getting dealt 2 Aces to not just get more chips, but to make the game fair for everyone?

2.      Is there a way to make the rules more fair for everyone?

3.      It looks like giving more chips to the poor person who keeps getting dealt bad cards isn’t helping, nor telling them to play harder.  So what do we do so they can play too?

4.      If I was dealt 2’s and 7’s, eventually I would probably quit, wait till after the game, and just rob the person with the 2 Aces.  Those odds are at least a little more in my favor.

Categories: Poverty, Reflections

Important Things I Learned as a Kid

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

1.       Don’t go in a women’s purse

2.       Don’t ask a women if she is pregnant

3.       Say, “Thank you”

4.       Say, “Excuse me”

5.       Make sure your shoes are tied when riding a bike or you’ll coast until you stop and fall over

6.       Moms never lose in Scrabble

7.       When Dad asks, “Wanna cut the grass?” it sounds like a question, but it    really isn’t

8.       If you punch people who try to bully you, they won’t bully you anymore

9.       Tough Skins aren’t cool no matter what Mom says.

10.     Never, I repeat NEVER, take the 3rd Strike

Categories: Abstracts

Strangers

October 21, 2010 2 comments

Have you ever walked into a place where you knew instantly, you didn’t really fit in?  For me, it’s usually places like Home Depot, Republican Party Fundraisers, and anywhere I have to make social chit-chat.  I had such a thing happen to me the other day that really got me thinking.

I just became a first time home owner and thought I would celebrate with a cigar.  So… I went to a cigar shop called Ora Cubano.  I don’t know very much about cigars and have even less experience in cigar shops.  I walk in and the place is breath taking.  Literally.  It was a cigar smoking lounge and it was filled with smoke.  After I “caught my breath” I noticed that I was the only white guy and that I was the only one not “Hablaing in Espanol.”

 

Instantly my mind raced to thoughts like, “Is everyone talking about me?”  “Am I allowed to be in here?”  “Should I break out my 5 Spanish sentences so that think I am an upgraded Gringo?” “Do you think they know I have Spanish friends?” and so on and so on.  All that to say, I noticed my “whiteness” and was very uncomfortable (not to mention being embarrassed that my whiteness was a big deal to me).

Since then, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this experience.

1.        I am rarely in places that are all white, it is not unusual for me and my white self to be in the minority, and it isn’t even all that rare for me to be the only white person around.  However, those times are still usually in places that are still under the umbrella of “white culture.”  So why was I out of sorts this time?

2.       The people at Ora Cubano were nothing but friendly, helpful, and courteous to both my cigar naivety and my gringoness.  So why was I pushing paranoid and neurotic buttons in my head?

3.       I wonder if people who are often marginalized and/or “different” feel paranoid and neurotic all the time.

4.       I wonder how many white people ever experience this type of thing.  I wonder too if we did, how that would change our views and discussion on things like race, gender, immigration, politics, etc…

5.       I wonder how to live out Biblically passages and ideas like “The alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34) and “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).  It seems to me that Ora Cubano is doing a better job than many churches, schools, banks, and city halls.

Categories: Reflections

Halftime. Lunch or Dinner?

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Often in sports, greatness is defined by how well an athlete does in crunch time.  It doesn’t matter how well you pitch in the first three innings, or how well you shoot in the 2nd quarter, or even how many great stats you pile up in the regular season, it’s all about how you finish.

So…. for arguments sake, let’s say the 2nd half is more crucial than the first.  This doesn’t say that you check out in the first half, as much as you pace yourself so that you have plenty of energy to be at your best when your best is needed the most.

Now, let’s switch gears to our work day.  When is half time?  Lunch or Dinner?  If the answer is lunch, then I suppose I am saying that the second half of my work day is the most important time of the day.  But, if I say dinner is halftime, then I guess I am saying that the most important part of my day is when I am at home.

For what it’s worth, I think halftime is dinner.  And I think the 2nd half of my day is more crucial than the first.  This doesn’t mean I check out at my job, as much as I pace myself so that I have plenty of energy to be at my best when my best is needed the most.

This probably won’t get me my own line of sneakers, but it will surely help me toward my dream of being a hall of fame husband and dad.

Categories: Family Life, Reflections

Compassion Fatigue?

May 22, 2010 5 comments

Compassion – to suffer together

It’s the complexity of emotion, thoughts, and actions prompted by the pain of others. It commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering.  Compassion is ranked a great virtue in numerous philosophies and is considered in all the major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues.

Compassion Fatigue – the suffering associated when suffering together

When helpers/caregivers become emotionally drained because of hearing about all of the pain and trauma of their patients and families.  Simply put, it’s the accumulation of damage, personal and real, or projected.

It has to do with dealing with damaged people and either standing with them through their pain and allowing it to rub off, or becoming the object of their emotion in rejection and anger.  Whether the damage is focused on you or not, it is real, its effects are cumulative and the stress it produces damages the emotions, the body and the spirit of the one standing as the help agent.

The depletion that can occur when caring for traumatized people exhausts your physical, emotional, and spiritual resources.  And it leaves you in deep emotional pain because you experience the trauma of others vicariously.

So… the question I am asking is how to live a life of compassion without living a life of compassion fatigue.   I am thinking that part of the answer might be found in the Dad’s advice in the story A River Runs Through It.

“Help is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly. So it is that we can seldom help anybody.  Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted.  And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.  It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, “sorry, we are just out of that part.”

Categories: Reflections

Missing Dad

May 16, 2010 5 comments

My mind is full this weekend with thoughts of dads.  Tomorrow is the birthday of my father who passed away earlier this year, my boys expressed missing having me around like they used to, and I have been wondering what the world would be like if more dads were into being better at daddness.

Thought #1:  Good dad’s are a rare “commodity” into todays world.  I was lucky enough to have one.  As I watch our Phillies, I wish we could talk baseball.

Thought #2:  Opted to take their advice and have a full day of family softball, yahtzee, pizza, lego store, wii, x-men cartoon movie, and living room sleepover (and horrible kink in my neck from “sleep”).  Glad I took their advice.

Thought #3:  On one of the most stressful few weeks of my working life (being involved with multiple crisis as a crisis response therapist), I am just in awe of how many kids don’t get a fair chance in life because their dad didn’t, for whatever reason, dad very well. Now, I know there are probably some kids who do well, their are some GREAT step dads, and there are some pretty tough moms out there too, but was just wondering how different things would be in our word if we had/were better dads.

So… if I were able to be a member of the x-men, my power would be to be able to change dudes with kids into dads and to heal the holes left in the hearts of all those who only got a dude.

Categories: Reflections