04 April 2016

We choose

We choose.

We choose to be cynical and fear driven, fear mongers even. 

Or we choose hope, benefit of the doubt, generosity, kindness.

We tend to see what we're looking for.

23 February 2016

Comfortable with Different

Being in community with people of other worldviews, faiths and traditions requires different thinking than when we all lived in homogenous societies.

Knowing who we are is imperative. Only then can we relate in healthy and nondefensive ways.

People sometimes speak of not offending others; being inoffensive. The whole idea of 'fending' is combative, and unhelpful if we truly desire relationship.

Buber's "I & Thou", though not an easy read, sets the ground for healthy interaction in relationship.

When I am comfortable with who I am, and know who's I am, I should be on solid ground to converse with anyone else.

Some people think that being in relationship with people who are similar is easier. It may be, but it's not as interesting or enriching.


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15 October 2015

Common Grammar Mistakes Professional Should Avoid

Thanks copyblogger for the following infogram.  
Some others I try to pay attention to as I speak ...  

1.) "idn't it" instead of "isn't it".  
2.) Using "that" instead of "who" when referring to people. "The people that come out for such events..."  
3.) Amount instead of number when it's something to be measured, not counted.  "The amount of people who come out for such an event..." Or "The amount of water to fill that number of glasses."  
4.) in some regions of the world, people use "got" more often. In the US, I saw informed speakers cringe when I used "got" instead of merely "have". So regional grammar is often a factor in spoken language.   
5.) My 5th grade teacher said people who swear are either ignorant or lazy. They're too dumb to know any better words, or they're too lazy to explore alternatives.  
6. Say as much as you can in as few words as possible. This was modeled by my maternal grandfather, Frank W. Wright, and makes for easier listening in this info saturated world.   

Add your own or point out my typos and mistakes.   

In the following infogram, notice the creator says "goofs that make you look silly." Professional people work with all sorts of clients. Their confidence in you may be increased by good grammar, or not.


05 September 2015

Prepare for Refugees in Your Community

Frustrated by seeing news of refugees but wondering what you can do to help?

It will take a long time for those walking to Germany or waiting in camps to reach the communities where they will eventually settle.

• Prepare for them.
Receiving traumatized people requires some careful thought and sensitivities.
Consider their situation from their point of view.
Train with the organizations in your area.

Indianapolis, IN Area:
Catholic Social Services
1400 N. Meridian Street
P.O. Box 1410
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317-236-1553

or Exodus Refugee Org

New Zealanders, train with the refugee arm of the Red Cross. They are brilliant and have offices in the major cities. Hamilton takes an amazing number of refugees!

Learn how to teach English as a second language.
Some Indiana colleges and libraries have programs you can enroll in or volunteer with. IUPUI

• Plot ways to employ a refugee.
A local industry in Anderson, IN employs several Burmese people.

• Consider household items a refugee family will need and assemble them in preparation.

Keep in mind too that just as refugees rarely get to choose their destination, you probably won't choose the refugee you'll come alongside to support. Refugees are on the move from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria.....

The U.S. took significant numbers of people from Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan/Nepal, Burma and D.R.Congo.

Settling significant numbers in:
1) Texas (7,211)
2) California (6,110)
3) New York (4,079)
4) Michigan (4,000)
5) Florida (3,519)
6) Arizona (2,963)
7) Ohio (2,812)
8) Pennsylvania (2,743)
9) Georgia (2,693)
10) Illinois (2,578)
North Carolina and Washington state are not far behind.

All of this was happening before that dear little boy washed up on a beach in Turkey,
and before refugees, asylum seekers and migrants started flooding into Italy, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

Libya is a mess. So is South Sudan. Iraq and Afghanistan are unlivable in places. Syria? Unimaginable the dangers that have visited people who are in shock as to what happened to their previous lives.

A refugee is one who runs from immediate threat of torture, persecution, imprisonment, or death.

An asylum seeker shows up without documentation and hopes they
lol be allowed to stay.

Migrants have choices and try to exercise them.

The lines between these categories are often fuzzy, thin or faint.

Defining and leveling people is the job of governments.
Systems and processes require order.
Some of these people just want a safe place for their children to live.

Many of us do not often think of the continuum of survive-live-thrive.


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04 September 2015

Refugees or Migrants?

Migrants move because they can.
Refugees run because they have no option.

Celts, Vikings and Norman's invaded and intermarried with those living in what we call Ireland. My family has Irish, Scottish, German, French and First Nations/Indian heritage, blood and DNA.

Why did my ancestors first come to the New World?
Possibly because at least one ancestor was a horse thief.
Others were seeking opportunity or freedom.
I'm glad those who got here just before my ancestors didn't bar the gate, even against the horse thief.

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25 August 2015

A Journey through NY City Religions- mapping the spiritual space of a city.

What would we find if we did this in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin? What would it look like in your city?



They describe themselves:
We are an incubator and educator for new ways of doing religion reporting and understanding the postsecular city. We are nonsectarian and nonpartisan and open to anyone's cool and authoritative reporting on NYC religion.

We are a public square for the postsecular city. People of faith, people of no faith, liberals, conservatives--all are welcomed to journey together to make this city better for all people. Our warmest feelings are toward those who help the poor, the needy, and the abused."

http://www.nycreligion.info/25-years-relief-bus/


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Location:Mapping the spiritual spaces of NYC

21 August 2015

Full of questions.

"... many Christians still allow cultural prejudices to shape their understanding of..."

I read this online today and it made me pause.

Which Christians? Those in Nigeria, New Zealand, Kosova, Cairo, Indiana, India...?

Cultural prejudices? Which ones? And what of personal prejudices?





When I first read the sentence, of which I've isolated only a fragment, I quickly thought of all the areas of application. I read it through my own lenses, my own life experiences. You will read the sentence through your lenses and will think your own thoughts, naturally.

Christians will do that. The wealthy will think they're not so wealthy; there are others with more. Poor students will mock the camel attempting to get through the eye of the needle, thinking they're sweet because they're impoverished, not recognizing their own prejudice.

How do we arrive at an objectivity that allows us to understand with a clarity untainted by prejudice?

How do we relate with people, read Scripture and respond appropriately without everything being skewed by undisclosed bias and unexplored personal paradigms?

I think we could fairly say, "... many people still allow cultural prejudices to shape their understanding of..."
and we'd all nod our head saying, "Yes. And...?"

The difference is that if we were talking about how we read and understand Scripture, well, our nationalistic, racial, cultural, gender, political, economic ... prejudices alter our understanding of the Gospel, God's identity, Jesus' mission, the Church, ..... pretty much everything really. Yet none of us live in the context in which Scripture was originally written, therefore ...

Do we even desire an objectivity that allows us to understand with a clarity untainted by prejudice?
I'm full of questions.


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07 July 2015

Wendell Berry Wisdom Poetry

The Real Work  by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.
"The Real Work" by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words. © 1983


How To Be a Poet   by Wendell Berry
(to remind myself) 

Make a place to sit down. 
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience, 
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything 
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

"How to be a Poet" by Wendell Berry from Given.
© Shoemaker Hoard, 2005.

02 July 2015

Suffering, and response

Just thinking about suffering and people's response.

Sometimes people respond to another's suffering out of their own experience or emotions. I've seen people respond unhelpfully to poverty because they felt guilty. Their response has been short sighted and caused problems they couldn't imagine.

Imagination is often a helpful thing to accompany wisdom.

People's response to those who are dying is often complicated too. They are living out of their healthy norm, facing a probable loss in their circle of affection and they want to DO something.

In reading A Faithful Farewell by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, written in the first person, I've paused to ponder, "I need protection from the weight of other people’s grief. Some of them don’t realize how crushed I feel by their anguish....

Still, it’s hard to go. And it’s hard to have to announce my going. I need to “gird my loins” for encounters with people who will be devastated. As I face each one, I need to pray for the patience, clarity, and kindness they will require. I know that a few of them will object and want me to get more opinions and seek more treatment options. I know that some of them will dissolve into their own grief,....

... my job is to allow myself to be kept in perfect peace, my mind stayed on Christ, and to meet each person’s sorrow with generous imagination for what my dying may mean to them. As I prepare for this final transition, they have to prepare for loss. Both are hard. Even for me, it’s not altogether easy to judge which of us are the “lucky” ones. I realize that the measure of life’s value doesn’t lie in its duration;..."


Buy from Amazon

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01 May 2015

Certainty or faith?

"Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We imagine that we have to reach some end, but that is not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere. Common sense says - "Well, supposing I were in that condition . . ." We cannot suppose ourselves in any condition we have never been in. Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. "
~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest


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30 April 2015

Motives Determine Much: ISIS


What ISIS Really Wants

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/


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28 April 2015

Misplaced reliance: Christianity Has Changed


Social, economic, cultural and political factors influence how we live, process, choose, discern and how we live our faith.

My wealth is reflected in my choices, what to eat, wear.... which blankets on my bed tonight. When I have choice, I have wealth.

Richard Rohr reflects, "Much of what Jesus taught seems to have been followed closely during the first several hundred years after his death and resurrection. As long as Jesus' followers were on the bottom and the edge of empire, as long as they shared the rejected and betrayed status of Jesus, they could grasp his teaching more readily.

Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, inclusivity, and love of enemies could be more easily understood when Christians were gathering secretly in the catacombs, when their faith was untouched by empire, rationalization, and compromise. .....

"The Shepherd of Hermas, written around AD 120, gives the image of the church as a tower to be built of white round stones. Many of the stones are not suitable for use in construction; those stones are not rejected, but they are put away to one side. These stones represent believers who are still relying upon their wealth and success and, therefore, cannot build this new community. They cannot be used until they have been reshaped by the Gospel, and their reliance upon money and success has been taken from them." ...

"I am not making a political-economic judgment here, but illustrating how Christianity has indeed changed with the times; there are both good and bad aspects to these changes. Let's try to hear the important truth that is presented, and read such statements from the early Christians with wisdom, prayer, and a non-dualistic mind. They can only make us wiser and more discerning."
Fr. Richard Rohr ~ https://cac.org/ -

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02 January 2015

Stretch or break when stressed

When rubber bands are unused in the drawer too long they become brittle or soft, and break when put under tension. You often only know after a bit of stretching, a bit of stress, whether they'll cope well or not.
So are we. In our comfort and complacency we often do not know whether we can stretch, whether we are still flexible, resilient and strong, or not.



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30 December 2014

Unexpected dialogue: "Shall I hold the penguin?"

So, I went over to Waiheke with my friend Rachael to see her sister Miranda Hawthorn's art exhibition at The Red Shed at Palm Beach. We had a nice lunch, ate an ice cream in idyllic surroundings on a Summer day.... 


then ...

... with 651 people crammed on to a ferry, I stood by the gate so as to be near life jackets and exits.... only to hear myself say, "Shall I hold the penguin?"

Never heard myself say such a thing before! 

The ferry staff were transporting an injured penguin to a refuge.

I held the penguin in a box while they roped the ferry to the pier, opened the gates, etc. Then I saw the crew person hand the box to an elderly lady. First off the ferry, I walked alongside the woman and learned the boxed bird was to go to the Bird Lady in Rothesay Bay.

The woman said, "Traffic will be horrible. It had to come on the 4 PM ferry!"

I replied that I lived near the Bird Lady and could do the delivery if she liked. She gripped the box tighter.... until I said I was a member of NZ Forest & Bird. 

So Jane and Richie arrive to collect me and stroll along the nearby picnic area, ... only to find me with a penguin in a box under my arm!

Off we go to the local Bird Lady who invited us in to see what the problem with the penguin was, and to see the rest of her guests; kingfishers, young tui, wood pigeons, young gulls who had washed off a flat roof and down a pipe into the gutter at the feet of a compassionate passerby, a rosella, other penguins and an adolescent Morepork owl!

Fascinating woman. 
Fascinating day. 

"Shall I hold the penguin?" may be the oddest line of dialogue I ever utter.


09 December 2014

Practical wisdom and why we need to value it

by David Blockley, directly quoted from Oxford University Press blog

“Some people who do not possess theoretical knowledge 
are more effective in action (especially if they are experienced) than others who do possess it.”

Aristotle was referring, in his Nicomachean Ethics, to an attribute called practical wisdom – a quality that many modern engineers have – but our western intellectual tradition has completely lost sight of. I will describe briefly what Aristotle wrote about practical wisdom, argue for its recognition and celebration and state that we need consciously to utilise it as we face up to the uncertainties inherent in the engineering challenges of climate change.

Necessarily what follows is a simplified account of complex and profound ideas. Aristotle saw five ways of arriving at the truth – he called them art (ars, techne), science (episteme), intuition (nous), wisdom (sophia), and practical wisdom – sometimes translated as prudence (phronesis). Ars or techne (from which we get the words art and technical, technique and technology) was concerned with production but not action. Art had a productive state, truly reasoned, with an end (i.e. a product) other than itself (e.g. a building). It was not just a set of activities and skills of craftsman but included the arts of the mind and what we would now call the fine arts. The Greeks did not distinguish the fine arts as the work of an inspired individual – that came only after the Renaissance. So techne as the modern idea of mere technique or rule-following was only one part of what Aristotle was referring to.
Episteme (from which we get the word epistemology or knowledge) was of necessity and eternal; it is knowledge that cannot come into being or cease to be; it is demonstrable and teachable and depends on first principles. Later, when combined with Christianity, episteme as eternal, universal, context-free knowledge has profoundly influenced western thought and is at the heart of debates between science and religion. Intuition or nous was a state of mind that apprehends these first principles and we could think of it as our modern notion of intelligence or intellect. Wisdom or sophia was the most finished form of knowledge – a combination of nous and episteme.

Aristotle thought there were two kinds of virtues, the intellectual and the moral. Practical wisdom or phronesis was an intellectual virtue of perceiving and understanding in effective ways and acting benevolently and beneficently. It was not an art and necessarily involved ethics, not static but always changing, individual but also social and cultural. As an illustration of the quotation at the head of this article, Aristotle even referred to people who thought Anaxagoras and Thales were examples of men with exceptional, marvelous, profound but useless knowledge because their search was not for human goods...