30 December 2010

Spirituality Communicated, Recognised or Known?

"It is God in you that responds to God without, or affirms his own words trembling on the lips of another."

— Emmerson, Journals (October 27, 1831)

Derrida, Newbigin, Foolishness & the Devil?

Looking for good writers who speak with brains and hearts engaged?

Nathan Colquhoun of Based on a True Story recommends:

Leslie Newbigin – The first book I picked out on my Kindle to read was Foolishness to the Greeks, and it is excellent. He’s another one of those older theologians who I just seem to connect with as of late. This book he seems to be more of a philosopher than anything. He just seems to get the world and the Christian’s role inside the world. When you read people who write like he writes it makes you not as embarrassed to be a Christian. He can contribute into academics like Christians should rather than yelling from afar trying to debate things that no one cares about.

3. James K.A. Smith – I don’t have a great taste in my mouth from the reformed folks. I’m not sure what it was, but it seemed like I always had the biggest “theology blowups” with them. The problem with this is that I seemed to agree with most of their “people” and what they were saying. I connect with a lot of reformed tradition and theology, it was just the people I knew were reformed [had] very little grace for anyone who believed different... James K.A. Smith was a breath of fresh air. I ran into a few of his excellent articles online like his review on Hipster Christianity and his Interview on Patrol and then I fell in love. So I picked up Devil wears Derrida and every chapter was a different essay about something and his outlook was clear, humble and refreshing.

Who have you been reading, especially in terms of faith or philosophy, whom you'd like to recommend? I'm big on Jesus, but am open to other suggestions too.

"...because I need God."

A Christian? Why forever for?

A friend of mine was a university chaplain in the Waikato, central North Island of New Zealand. Now she and her husband serve with a fellowship in China. As a leader, influencer, coach and pastor to others, she was wise to stop and think of her own paradigm and perspective, and to put words around her faith. Integrity requires us to stop and think, to re-examine and choose well, even as we embrace change and transition, loss and progress.

Jemma writes,

I’m not a Christian because I’ve been convinced by a good rational argument
of the existence of God.

I’m not a Christian because it’s the culture of my family or my country and I
haven’t found any good reason not to be one anymore.

I’m not a Christian because Jesus Christ is good news for the poor, release
for the captive, recovery of sight for the blind and liberty for those who are
oppressed. I’m glad about that, and passionate about living into it ever more
fully. But it’s not the reason.

I’m a Christian because I need God. And I know that makes some people think
that I’m weak-minded, or lacking in courage, or childlike and foolish. I think
it’s about being human. And being human, I need grace and mercy and strength and love and forgiveness and hope. And that’s what I find in the Gospel.

Something I read recently made me think about this: a blog-post by Bishop Kelvin who writes:

I have so much now in the way of intellectual and social and material capital that I can get on pretty well under my own steam. Yet the whole deal about faith is that you can’t, not ever, not in any way learn it unless you DO it, and doing it requires being in a situation where you have no resources but one, and that is the willingness to trust. I guess that is why Jesus said the thing about rich people and camels and eyes of needles. And I know that the very survival of our diocese and perhaps even of our denomination depends exactly on us rediscovering a whole renewed level of trust in and dependence on the Living God. I.e., faith.

I have to say that moving to Beijing is certainly inviting a whole new level
of trust in and dependence on God. I’m having plenty of opportunity to know my
need.

Jemma blogs at http://exilicchaplain.wordpress.com/

29 December 2010

No One's Home

"One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there."
— H. Nouwen

Summertime, Christmas & New Years!

Summertime in New Zealand, combined with the Christmas-New Year break, is not conducive to being inside and thinking cohesive thoughts. Now if you were to pop in and help me eat some rhubarb crumble made by my friend Rachael, or some Banana Cake made by my friend Sonia, or some Christmas fruit cake made by my friend Ruth . . . well, I think you see the problem.

But you only see part of it. The other part of it is that I'm co-house sitting for friends who've gone to Melbourne to be with family over Christmas. Their view is amazing! That's what you oughta see; the view! It's rural, undulating and green, more shades of green than I can describe.

But the view is the problem, you see. They do have an internet connection out there, but it's not wi-fi. I'd be tethered to a keyboard in the interior of the house . . . . and that just makes no sense to me right now. The view is refreshing distracting, inspiring and tranquilising, all at the same time!

So, for the next week or so, imagine me with a nose in a book, glancing up from time to time to see how the view has subtly changed. Or imagine me pulling weeds, posterior up for best leverage. Imagine me out talking to the sheep or wooing the alpacas or laughing at the black toy poodles who would be snacks for my dad's mastiffs.

If I hadn't had the opportunity to stay out in Kumeu, Taupaki to be precise, I'd probably have considered a camping trip and would still be picking my gear out of nearby trees or fence rows after yesterday's weather bomb came through.

Tell you what, those of you with an easy internet connection, you carry the conversation. Go ahead, you chime in via COMMENTS on this BLOGSPOT site and tell me what we should be talking about. Or describe what intersections you may be approaching with the new year.

I'll be monitoring. I just may not be able to string words together with any sense.

26 December 2010

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas is about more than just sales & shopping. Really.

Boxing Day, a national public holiday in many British colonies or former colonies, is celebrated yearly on December 26, a day after Christmas Day.

No, it has nothing to do with two gloved men sparring on a canvas square ringed by ropes and trying to knock each other out.

In Australia, Boxing Day is also the day the peril-fraught Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins. There are special horse races and often cricket to watch.

Boxing Day got its name from an old tradition when employers boxed gifts for their workers on the day after Christmas. Was it an after thought or left overs or . . . .

I'm catching up with friends I didn't see on Christmas Day and calling my family in the US as it is still be Christmas Day for them.

25 December 2010

One of my trees! Auckland City Mission 2010

Arrived before 7AM to decorate for a dinner that will feed 2000 people. Everyone will get candy and a gift too!

I helped with trees on the stage and felt like an old timer. I guess I've been helping with this since Christmas 2005!

Being part of this gives me perspective on what Christmas isn't; it isn't all about me and receiving.

There are more homes/families in our world who are not 2 parents with kids than are.

This event reminds me that 'normal' is often sad & lonely rather than mistletoe & jolly.

Music and voices will soon fill the huge arena. Meri Kirihimete!

It's not ALL about the baby.

God wanted to connect with us. Thus the baby in the manger. But it's not all about the baby.

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 1:1-3, New Testament of The Bible, TNIV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John's Gospel, 1:1-5, 9-12 & 14. New Testament of The Bible TNIV

14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Hebrews 2:14-18, New Testament of The Bible, TNIV

Check out these and other passages from The Bible via BibleGateway.com where you can search in different translations at one time and compare them side-by-side in columns.

New Living Translation, Today's New International Version and others are all easy to read and understand, just as God meant it to be.

24 December 2010

The Problem with Angels

You know the problem with angels? They are scary. Really. They are.

First off I think they must be huge. They seem to fill spaces and hover and, if they want to, their voices can BOOM in such a way that would just blow you outta the water.

Now when we look at them we think they are lovely guardians and good to top the Christmas tree, helpful and have nice wings. But every time the angels talked to anyone, they seemed to start with, "DON'T BE AFRAID!" Really. They said that to Zechariah and then to Mary . . . .

Angels are mentioned over 300 times in 34 books of the Bible. They mostly only have the world's attention at Christmas though, when white bed sheets are in great demand and wings need to be shaped and fixed onto fidgety kids. I reckon duct tape and #8 wire come in handy then.

Some people joke and say you must never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.
I say we shouldn't make angels out to be more than they are in God's creation. Angels are popular as people seek a spirituality with which they can be comfortable. Fact is they are created beings, spiritual in nature who are servants to God.

Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14
They are not at my beck and call and do not perform according to my dictates. Angels are angels, intimidating messengers of God who often left people in uncomfortable situations, favoured by God, but uncomfortable all the same.

Jesus on the other hand, arrived at the end of about 40 weeks, the last of which would have been on a donkey. He didn't have to shout, "DON'T BE AFRAID!" because he was a baby.
He may have shouted, probably did make a certain amount of noise, but nobody would have been scared of Him. He was a baby. He had toes and fingers, elbows, knee caps and saliva glands. He would have had some sort of nappy system so His mum could manage His output.

He was later a teenager and possibly enjoyed a camel race or teased his mum. His friends might have given him a nickname or told him to man-up when it was his turn to bat.

Sometimes we minimize Jesus' humanity, suggesting that what He did was easy cause He was God. How does that make things easier for us; by lowering the standard? We distance Him somehow from our everyday existence, when His very incarnation was to bridge that gap.
Incarnation: The incarnation refers literally to the in-fleshing of the eternal Son of God—Jesus becoming a human being. A helpful way to remember the key aspects of the incarnation is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh.”
If He was not fully human He would not have been qualified for the role He took on, for the Cross. Jesus came to live, to be amongst us, to understand what it was like to be human, to talk with us in a way that facilitated conversation without having everybody scared like they were of the angels.

When God sent angels they were His messengers. When God sent Jesus, He sent part of Himself, He sent His Son.

He didn't deliver a message like the angels did. He was delivered as a baby in a manger, to man the cross.

The message Jesus delivered was when He went back to His Father and said, "I did it. I did what you asked, what was necessary. Now you can receive my brothers and sisters because the unpeace issue is resolved. I've reconciled the family and we should celebrate."

23 December 2010

Community Existence: Community Effort

None of us can exist in isolation. Our lives and existence are supported by others in seen and unseen ways, be it by parents, mentors or society at large.
To be aware of these connections, to feel appreciation for them, and to strive to give something back to society in a spirit of gratitude is the proper way for human beings to live.

– Daisaku Ikeda

Joseph & Mary on Facebook

Jesus on Twitter?
How about Joseph & Mary on Facebook?



http://www.ignitermedia.com/

22 December 2010

What motif best suits your life?

mo-tif noun [moh-teef]

1. a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., esp. in a literary, artistic, or musical work.
2. a distinctive and recurring form, shape, figure, etc., in a design, as in a painting or on wallpaper.
3. a dominant idea or feature:
Mine is often journey.

With an insatiable curiosity, I see a book as a new adventure through which to journey with the author as my guide. When I approach a large gallery or museum, it's a journey into places designed by the curators and furnished by the artists or natives or inventors.

Geocaching provides me with journeys I wouldn't otherwise take.

Spiritually I am always on a journey to better understanding, deeper intimacy, richer faith and diverse nuances gleaned from fellow travellers.

I rarely collect plastic souvenirs of my journeys. I prefer instead to carry with me something of the place, a piece of driftwood as a bookmark, a leaf or dried flower to remind me of that garden or forest, a postcard in case my photos don't turn out.

I've also grown quite a collection of boarding passes over the years, though the new ones are not worth saving. In the old days, my early days of travel, the passengers were issued a booklet of tickets with red carbon on the back of each leaf. The boarding passes were cardboard and perforated upon boarding so the crew could check who was still wandering the airport and who was on the plane.

Once on board, the card board stubs made great bookmarks and reminded me where I was going.

I found a small collection of these boarding passes in the back of My Utmost For His Highest, a daily devotional I dip into from time to time. These passes show journeys from Amsterdam to Chicago, London to Nairobi and another one for Costa Rica, no departure shown.

I think the trip from Amsterdam was the one where I saw friends of my grandparents on the plane. One must never think one is alone in the world and therefore free to misbehave!

But what about you? What motif might fit your life, describe your life, connect the dots and give shape to your existence? There can be more than one, obviously. What comes to mind?

21 December 2010

Words: Book Club Vocabulary

My Book Club challenges me to read different books than I'd normally choose. It's enlightening and stimulating to get together with friends who've had different journeys than my own to inform their worldview. The discussions are often lively and we get off on tangents as random as any Bible study ever could.

One of the best benefits of our last book, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, was the vocabulary. Some writers throw in obscure words that do not add to the telling of the tale. Others stretch me a bit, challenging me to a broader use of the English language. On the other hand, if I read a book and do not find a new word or usage somewhere in that book, I reckon I've been cheated.

There are strategies amongst dictionary makers to retire certain words if they are not used. There are other campaigns to retire words that are over used. My dad did that when I was a kid. If we overused or misused a word repeatedly, the word would be banned until it could retake it's proper place in the English language. Thanks for the good standards, Pop!

Some of the words I've discovered, or bothered to look up so now I can use in my own writing, are familiar to you. We work, imagine, read and study in different areas, so will have different tools, colours, textures and words at our disposal. The words I've gleaned from my recent reading, either words I'm unaccustomed to or used in unique ways, are:

Atonic has nothing to do with a medicinal drink.
Insouciance seems prolific on the roads of big cities.
Amanuensis I'd seen this in my theological studies but not in my pleasure reading!
Loquacious I'd skipped over this one in characterisations, getting its sense from context.
Encomium Never used this one before, but can imagine my grandmother knowing it.
Laconic Again, a good characterisation word, but not one I've used myself.
Dodecahedron Never needed this one before.
Tetrahedron Or this one.
Macula Immediately thought of the retina of the eye, but not limited to that.
Soporific Wonder if I can use this word in relation to Auckland's weather this month?
Torpor Me, yesterday, again weather related.
Susurration Teach this to a kid in church!
Sibilants Has to do with linguistics, snakes & politicians?
Lacunae Not sure how many opportunities I'll have to use this word.
Nacreous as in Nacreous Translucence, which has something to with mothers.

Well, how many new words did you collect? I find I can understand a certain range of words, but using them in everyday conversation or writing is something else altogether.

20 December 2010

Hospice Holiday To Do Lists

Hospice is my charity of choice. Oh, I am sometimes a paid up member of Royal NZ Forest & Bird, but I always put my money on hospice. They did an excellent job helping my brother and me care for our mother when she was dying of cancer. Every family should have such support.

So, when the local hospice letters come in the mail, I read them. The latest has a Christmas To Do List. The list includes the normal things you'd expect, but might want to write down so you don't forget:

  1. Post overseas Christmas cards & gifts.
  2. Purchase remaining gifts for family & friends.
  3. Check out Hospice's Gifts for Good for gift ideas.
  4. Order Christmas turkey or ham.
  5. Get table decor ready.
  6. ...
Then the list goes on to specialised list of considerations by those who are ill:
  1. What if I don't last until Christmas?
  2. Should we celebrate Christmas early?
  3. How will young children react when they see my current state?
  4. Will my illness spoil Christmas for everyone else?
  5. Will I be up to visits from friends & relatives?
  6. Do we even want to celebrate Christmas?
  7. How are the family going to cope?
  8. What will Christmas be like next year when I am gone?
Hospice has it's own list of To Do's for themselves:
  1. Remind our patients and families that Hospice is available right through the Christmas period.
  2. Ensure families know that we will be here to answer any concerns they have 24/7.
  3. Check we have special treats available for all, especially the children.
No time is a good time to be ill, but it's especially hard when everyone else is getting on with celebrations and you find little to celebrate. It's hard when you don't have energy to brush your hair, let alone hang your Christmas cards or decorations up.

So, for those of you who are unwell, I have a list for you:
  1. Set your boundaries and do as much as you can enjoy.
  2. Hang on to your hope, whether for yourself or those who follow you.
  3. Count your blessings and find something to celebrate.
  4. Do something that refreshes your soul, whether it is to scratch a dog's head, listen to music, look at art or water a plant.
  5. Look both ways before crossing the street. Not all our 'ends' are announced by doctors.
  6. ...
For those of us who are well:
  1. Remember to open doors for those who are struggling or look frail.
  2. Be generous with the car parks/parking places nearer to the door.
  3. Be grateful most of your parts work and you can plan for next year.
  4. Watch out for buses. None of us know how long we have to live.
  5. Tell loved ones how we feel about them and affirm them in the things that matter.
  6. Don't save the good dishes or special napkins. Use them.
  7. Sensitively affirm or acknowledge to those who are not joyful this year.
  8. Stop whining. There's really not much worth whining about, really.
  9. ... add your own in comments below

18 December 2010

Live Well. Die well.

If you were going to choose how and where you were going to die . . . I don't mean engineer it, but if you could have input in the planning . . .

Odd question, but it's instigated by the fact that my grandfather couldn't have done any better if he had planned it. He planned lots of things. He planned travel holidays down to the meal times and places . . . even when they were driving cross country! He was an engineer and liked order.

The evening he passed away, he dressed up for the Christmas party, with my dad helping him and laughing over how hard those little collar buttons were to get buttoned. They even had a handy hooked tool, but with manly fingers, well, it was a challenge.

Then my dad drove him to the Christmas party at which he was an invited guest amongst the big wigs and medical staff of the community in which he lived. They liked my grandfather being one of the residents' representatives and on the board because he was fair and a good thinker.

He knew you couldn't ask for the moon while paying nothing for the trip. He would shake his head in wonderment at those in today's newspapers expecting everything without considering where it was to come from! Do the math!

As a debater on his high school team, he stood up and out. I wouldn't have wanted to argue with him, and cannot ever remember doing so. Whether there was a right side or not, his logic was beautiful and strong.

So, he had a stroke amongst the best of the medical staff at a Christmas party for which he would have worn one of his Christmas sport coats and plaid tartan trousers. He was dapper!

He and my dad missed out on the Christmas lights they were going to see that night, but otherwise, it was a pretty good way to go.

Yes, I've been to a friend's funeral this week, a memorial to a well lived life. I'm not all morbid about it all, it's just that we all seem to think we'll live forever. Why is that? Why do we delude ourselves or live in denial?

It happens. The key then is to live well, to live generously and with purpose. The thing is to love those you can and try to alleviate suffering where possible. The point is to remember that we are all part of a continuum that we contribute to, but which does not hinge on us.

We are not our bank balance, our place on the leader board, our annual sales figures, our trophies on the shelf, our title or the make of our car or phone. In this world, we are who our loved ones remember us to be. In the grander scheme, we reflect the image of God and out to ooze some of that into the lives of those we touch.

I want there to be a party after my death where people tell stories and laugh and . . . in the months after think, "Where is she? She always did this (or that)!"

17 December 2010

I made a mistake . . . .

I was doing some forward planning this week, bridging months and years that seem confined to different calendars but are in fact a continuum of life.

There's a Brooke Fraser concert in early February, just after Parachute Music Festival in January.

I entered in university events for February and other events for April. I've got spiritual retreats booked for May & October. We've got Servetember in September again and I'll probably be traveling in June & July.

The
NACC is in Cincinnati in July. Whether I attend or not I'll want up-to-date materials there.

The Rugby World Cup starts in New Zealand in September so I have to get those dates in the calendar so I don't give them away and then regret it. Final: 23 October. NZ -vs- ...?

Chaplain's will meet in Palmerston North in November for the annual conference.

Note to self: Gotta book camp sites for Parachute in January, if it's not too late already!

So there I was on Facebook, searching out some fresh email addresses as I'd had some messages returned to me, and I thought I'd pop over and wish some of my favourite boys a happy birthday. They are twins so while it was two messages it was only one date to remember, 14 January, and I'm quite fond of these guys so it was no trouble at all.

I typed out the first birthday message and sent it off. Composed the second and hit SHARE.

Only later did I realise that it was not January 14th, 2011 yet. It was only December 14, 2010. Hmm. Sure enough, as I popped back on to Facebook to undo my goof, there was a very polite note from Twin #1 thanking me, clarifying the date for me, and then telling me he loved me too. I added a note about my GOOF and then revisited the brother's page. He later left a note saying he'd had a good laugh.

There are mistakes and then there are mistakes.
This mistake was somewhat public as we share many loved ones and they'll have had a good laugh. But it's never a mistake to wish a friend well and tell them you love them.

Auckland Kids Tell The Christmas Story

Share this very cool and simple retelling of the story with your friends. I saw it first on the big screen at Vector Arena at GLOW on Sunday. Big screen is best!

16 December 2010

Certainty is Fragile.

"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how.
The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
The artist never entirely knows. We guess.
We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."

--Agnes de Mille.

GLOW Auckland Timelapse Video

I attended GLOW on Sunday evening, with about 7000 of my closest friends.
Here's a taste, well, not really a taste as I was eating Kapiti Red Raspberry ice cream at the time, but you know what I mean. Yes, we all had a glowstick and did fun things with it, including The Wave. Nathan King and Dave Dobbyn participated. A fun and encouraging event.

15 December 2010

Naomi P. Wright: Part 2 of many.

Granny & Grandpa lived in a small town in Indiana when I was growing up. There was a traffic light by the time I can remember, but my mom tells stories of it being turned off on weekends when it was first installed. What was the point when there was no traffic to regulate?

I remember sitting out on the wide front porch in rocking chairs. Really! We did that! And there was something cold to drink in sweating pitchers. I think it was lemonade cause I liked that, but I'll bet there was iced tea too.

People would walk by, stop for chat and end up sitting on the steps with a glass in their hand. Others would amble past and either join the conversation or would take one of the other visitors with them.

I remember sitting on the three steps that made the sidewalk accessible to the level of the front lawn and the rest of the walkway that approached the porch steps. My three little steps had a cement edging that would accommodate my toys and whatever scene I was creating. Sometimes I would reenact what I was hearing from the porch even as the porch dwellers were watching and being entertained by me.

There were Lilly of The Valley growing round the shady side of the house. "Poisonous! Don't eat those!" Grandpa said. You know, I'd never thought of eating those flowers before.

Nadine & Mr. Clements would stop in. Granny's friend Amy would find an excuse to pass, and stop. Cousin George would report in on his mom and ask us to stop in to help her with her jigsaw puzzle. If Granny wandered off to walk Amy back to her house further along Main St, Grandpa might shout, "Naomi P. Wright!" when he was ready for his dinner. Imagine her scurrying back, not to cook his dinner, but to shut him up.

This was life, summertime in my childhood. I had no idea then how good I had it, how rich the tableau was and how it would all shape my idea of right and wrong, friendship and respect, community and courage.

I detour through Hagerstown nearly every time I'm back in Indiana. It's not much a diversion off the big highway just to the south, but you have to choose to go through there. It's not far from New Castle, from Richmond, from Millville. Grandpa's family was from Millville. It's where the Wright brothers developed some of their flying schemes.

We're related, ya know.

14 December 2010

Life is Messy.

Is honesty a luxury?

One of the new residents in my house asked for a letter stating the amount she pays here so the government subsidy she gets because she cannot work will continue. She asked us to put an inflated amount because the social services agency never pays the full amount. Because of her mental illness, she is not working and has no other income.

If we do not inflate the amount, she'll struggle to pay for bus fare, cigarettes, food, soap, rent, etc.
If we do inflate the amount, we are part of a rort that is already out of control.

It was not a hard decision for me to make. No, I couldn't say I was receiving more than I was. Facts are facts. It's black and white really. I didn't say it like that. In fact, I let someone else handle it, but I made the decision, and then was sad about it.

Sad cause I'd made the right decision? No.
Sad cause it's easy to be honest when you're not in fear of going hungry or of not seeing your kids cause you can't afford the bus fare to where they are staying.

I did the right thing, no doubt about it.
In the long run, honesty is the best policy.
In the short term, it sure makes life difficult for a struggling woman with Christmas approaching.

It's easy to be pious when life is tidy.

13 December 2010

Naomi P. Wright! Imagine shouting that down a neighbourhood street!

Yesterday was my grandmother's birthday. She died when I was still at university, but she lives on in my memories, in my stories, in how I do things nearly every day.

We'd spend part of the winter in her basement sewing or making crafts. I'd go round with her in what we called the "free rummage sale." In New Zealand it's called inorganic rubbish collection. Only part of what is put out is collected by the waste removal trucks. It's a bit of a free for all for the few days prior.

We'd make pumpkin bread in floured coffee cans, wrap them nicely and attach cards with our friends' and family's names on them. We were welcomed warmly when delivering our cylindrical parcels!

Granny was my mom's mom, but my brother and I called her Mom from early on. A generational hiccup or something had relegated that title to the grandmother. My mom was Mother from the day my dad announced that we were too old to call her Mommy. Fair enough! I was driving by then! Not really. But that whole evolution of role and maturation of offspring is an interesting topic for another time.

So my mom was Mother and my grandmother was Mom. Until she lost her glasses. Yep, lost 'em. They seemed to be nowhere in sight. Mumbling and grumbling she got Jeff and me in on the search. We moved sofas and magazines and looked in drawers, though how they could get far from her reach she couldn't figure out.

Only when we could stand it no longer did we inform my dear grandmother that they had been on top of her head all along! I can't describe the look she gave us; something of a blend of relief, betrayal, anger, humour, embarrassment, anger again . . . .

Later that evening, when things weren't so tense, I asked if we could call her Granny like the granny in 'The Beverly Hillbillies' cause she'd done the same thing in one of the recent shows. Granny said, "You can call me anything you like as long as it is with love and respect."

That wasn't a hard qualifier. She was an amazing woman. She made the first, and only, doll I ever really played with, carried around and shared secrets with. Barbie? Pphooooie! My doll was homemade, genetically linked to our family! She had a nightie made out of the same material as my own, liked what I liked and was a good reader. Her name was Naomi too. Musta been confusing for my mother sometimes, cause I'd sometimes ask where Naomi was and my mother wouldn't know at first whether I meant my grandmother or my doll. But then I never called Granny by her given name unless she was being unreasonable.

On Granny's birthday we let her tell any jokes she wanted and we were bound by a commitment to laugh. Her jokes were not very good, but the least we could do was laugh on her birthday! Over time a not-very-funny joke came to be known as a Granny-joke.

Her photographs were always easily distinguishable too. I mean the ones she took. Maybe she was better with the old Brownie cameras where you looked down in to the box. Once she got glasses and she had to look straight through the camera's viewfinder, heads rolled. Well, they didn't really roll, but they were consistently cut off, so you were left to wonder. Something about the optics in her glasses and the viewfinder frustrated her efforts.

Granny usually had a small garden. The tomatoes were staked along the fence and sometimes there were a few other things she could bring in at dinner time. She made the best mashed potatoes. Never a lump in them! And her vegetable soup!

My dad never liked her veggie soup. He was afraid she'd just cleaned out the fridge and chucked everything in the pot.

After Granny died I tried to make her Apple Cake recipe for my brother as a special gift. When Jeff commented to our dad that it just wasn't the same, my dad applied wisdom and said, 'No, and it never will be." with a follow-up discussion on how memories and reality seldom jell and how Granny's presence was the missing ingredient.

I had been home for Christmas and then gone to Haiti as team photographer on my first overseas ministry trip. Granny went out to Arizonia where the dry desert air was thought to be good for Congestive Heart Failure. It wasn't. She died amongst family.

She lives still through her recipe book in my kitchen, my sewing kit that she put together before I went off to college, in James Whitcomb Riley poems she taught me as a kid, and in my stories.

12 December 2010

New Zealander of the Year 2010

"After her son Nayan, 4, was killed in front of her by an out-of-control teenage motorist driving his modified car on to the footpath in Christchurch in May, the reaction we had come to expect from other tragedies was grief-fuelled anger and cries for harsh penalties.

There was none of that from Mrs Woods.

Instead, she . . ."

Read the rest of the story of 2010's New Zealander of the Year in the NZ Herald.

10 December 2010

Rest. Grace. Presence.

The peace of wild things by Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Buy Wendell Berry's works online.

09 December 2010

Man the Cross



“How proper it is that Christians should look toward the future…for the manger is situated on Golgotha and the Cross has already been raised in Bethlehem.” (attributed to Dag Hammarskjold)




<– Sketch made by St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris





A Reading from the Gospel according to John

In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness cannot overcome it…the Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name…the Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only son of the Father, full of grace and truth

08 December 2010

A God who encompasses the macro

It's tempting to think our vista is the whole picture. We forget our specific place in space, time, history.

Men were trapped in Pike River Mine as I sat in comfy chairs in a warm room in Christchurch, just hours away. I was made aware of events by the media, but their dire reality was unaffected by my actions and awareness, nor mine by theirs.

That same weekend a friend discovered her husband had died during his afternoon nap.

What was I doing, where was I?

People often ask the question, "Where were you when ...

... you heard Kennedy had been shot?"
... The Twin Towers came down?"
... Princess Di was killed?"
... ...

When my mother died my world forever changed.

Yet the baseball games continued on TV and sirens still echoed through the nearby tunnel as emergency vehicles went about their business, other people's business.

Markers in history, yet simple events that are spoken of less over time, melt in to a continuum that never stops.

We speak of the big picture to those living in the small picture ...
and of the micro to a God who encompasses the macro.

He knows. He sees.

07 December 2010

" ...having a sense of the whole."



"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." - Vida Winter

06 December 2010

Opinions & Perspectives Reveal Plenty

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him."

~Thomas Merton,
New Seeds of Contemplation

03 December 2010

We Will Live, while others do not.

West Coast poet Helen Wilson used her craft to offer an emotional tribute to the 29 men who lost their lives in the Pike River mine on New Zealand's South Island.

Ms Wilson paused for breath at one point as she spoke of the many emotions felt since the first explosion at the mine on November 19.

We Will Live, was written for the local and wider community:

We must live, get on with our lives.

I am someone who lives here, and I am no one in particular.

I am not a close relative, just relatively close.

I live amongst you, work with you, pass you on the street,

and as luck would have it, I came home again.

I went to work on that Friday as you did. That's all.

My labrador ready for a run when I got home, my lawnmower and fishing rod waiting eagerly for the weekend.

I lived, and should have got on with my life.

But as I write, my neighbourhood is at a standstill, and I am with them,

paralysed by the enormity of despair, guilt and helplessness.

My lawns have bloomed dandelions, my dog, bored, is digging holes in the weeds.

The media says we are a close-knit community. I prefer to think we are tightly bound to be here,

because living here is not a normal, comfortable life but a strong and uncertain existence;

forever at the whim of our surroundings, we go up the back and go down the mine, up the hill and across the bar.

The earth moves, the winds strike, the rain falls, and the hills remind us of their omnipotence.

We nod to each other in the street in a quiet way because we understand we have lived more than most and we really know how to get on with our lives.

And in a flash, life has stopped us in our tracks and can never be the same.

And in the days after Friday and the anguish, as if we had forgotten and needed a remedial lesson,

we are reminded what it is that is most precious about our community.

And in our despair, we are kinder to each other. We spend more time. We knit ourselves tighter and we behave a little better,

and that in itself brings us the comfort we need.

We will mourn some more, and then wearying of that, we will remember this day and what it is to be alive.

And in the memory of those we have lost, we will promise to be kinder to each other,

Because we have learned all over again what is important and what is not.

To do this gives purpose to their lives, and some sanction for their death.

This weekend I will mow my lawns, retrieve my dog from her pit, and the Grey's kahawai will not be safe.

And we will all live for them a little bit better and get on with our lives.
Helen Wilson

See TVNZ and NZHerald for video of the Remembrance Service which was carried live on CNN and Australian TV.

02 December 2010

Art in The Marketplace: Hallelujah Arby's!



Almost like "Happy Birthday, Jesus" song. He oft gets left out of His birthday celebrations these days. Go figure.

01 December 2010

Resilience: So much more than a word.

Having spent last week in Christchurch where a major earthquake shook the region in September, I am reminded of a word that came in to renewed focus for me a few years back, resilience.

I've known the word for many years, of course, but words are just symbols. They stand for realities or concepts that are much more than the number of or shape of assembled letters.

"Resilience" in psychology is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and adversity.

This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease). Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual. Masten, A. S. (2009). Ordinary Magic: Lessons from research on resilience in human development. Education Canada, 49(3): 28-32.

Since the earthquake, Christchurch and its citizens have experienced 2,500 aftershocks, with one just this weekend registering 4.5. So what do you do to mend the “soul” of a city?

According to The Christchurch Press, one secret weapon has been Mozart. The introduction of speakers and music in city malls has led to a steep fall in petty crime and anti social behaviour.

Being careful not to assign "effect" to any one "cause", music has been known to calm worried and weary minds. Much research has been done as to its affects in schools, prisons and hospitals. Music is used to soothe babies, both before & after birth, animals and crowds.

The cause and effect idea may have carried over to the Band Together event where the city came together in the park and had a great concert that relieved the stress and enhanced the community spirit that has become obvious in and around Christchurch. Unfortunately, Christmas in The Park did not have the same results as alcohol fueled teens made headlines and both police and teens ended up in hospital.

Tragedies impact on different people in different ways. Some people are made stronger. In other people, weaknesses become more obvious and cracks widen. There have been reports of disproportionate reactions to annoyances. Stress builds up until a little incident opens a valve that was already under pressure.
The last straw . . .
Tips the balance . . .

David Johnston of Massey University's Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research said at the time that,
"People may come across instances where family, friends and work colleagues are worried, anxious, frightened, or just uncertain about their experiences and futures.

Some will have experienced damage to their property, which means that they cannot live where they normally live. Others may have experienced injury – whether to themselves, or their loved ones. And this injury could be physical or non-physical, visible or non-visible, he says.

“What we know from the research is that most people will be okay, especially if they have their usual resources to draw upon – especially their social networks and experience with coping with adversity successfully before in their lives. Others will need more support.”
One lady I spoke to mentioned her daughter's anxieties. Small business owners drive past fences that prohibit people from entering their building. Bills accumulate. Dreams are shattered and reality settles in.

No, there was no loss of life at the time of the earthquake, as we've seen in Greymouth with 29 miners trapped and presumed dead in a coal mine. But the residual effects of anxiety and depression can, at the least, affect quality of life.

If you know of someone suffering from a tragedy, consider the information and advice at the following link as you provide support for them. Psychosocial support can provide what someone needs to develop and maintain resilience in stressful times.


Suppression, just getting on with it, avoidance, denial and a stiff upper lip accomplish some things, but they do not necessarily develop the emotional tool box that people need to be able to thrive in the midst of adversity. Ask people how they are, and listen so as to hear them.

30 November 2010

"There's a nap for that!"





The Daily What posted this photo:

iPhone Baby Quilt of the Day:

By Harriet Rosin for her grandson, Gabriel.


Benjamin Stein adds: “There’s a Nap for That!”


It's almost like an I Spy puzzle. You can find the baby in there . . . .?

What would you ask?

Having lived outside my home country for over 25 years, I'm used to having my loved ones and memories scattered over wide distances.

With that in mind, I spoke to a 'friendly' group recently who know only the last decade. As I prepared to speak to them, I often returned to the idea that they only knew what I had chosen to let them know.

That is often true of people in high profile roles; sometimes we wonder but don't dare ask.

Dare I do it?
What secrets do I have?
Dare I give permission for their curiosity to wander freely?
What question could I not evade if necessary?

So I did it!

The organizer distributed bits if paper and welcomed questions of any nature.

How bad could it get?

Considering the readers of Conversations@Intersections to also be a 'friendly' though disparate group, what would you ask?

I'll reveal the other group's questions after I've heard from you. :~)

29 November 2010

Living on the edge of a ledge . . .

Instead of reading profundities here today, jump over to In the Life of a Busy Woman and read what Cheryl has to say about living on the edge of a ledge.

I took three long, deep breaths and tried to settle myself. My body was trembling under the weight of tension. It had been a very long day.

I needed silence.
Cheryl Belding

Joan Chittister says,

"...when a jar of river water sits still, the law of gravity causes the sediment to eventually settle to the bottom so that the water becomes clear. We don't have to do anything to cause the settling except leave the jar alone for a while.
Read more at Cheryl's In The Life of a Busy Woman

27 November 2010

The Missional Position, an excerpt.

The Missional Position: Myths and Musings on Being Single -http://bit.ly/gjIqj0

        ... ... "Our own crap and posing is eventually exposed.  Our marriages hit a place of death.  All of our former ideals around intimacy and success and sex and prosperity explode.  And we hear that old Scripture ringing in our ear: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground…"  And we know life emerges from death.

In other words, we know the pitfalls.  We've entered the "garden"…and we've discovered thorns and thistles.  Many of you wish you were in our shoes, and perhaps our beds.  But let me tell you the truth.  Loneliness and difficulty only increase.  What you wish for may come back to haunt you.  And so, we all must be prepared to take the missional position – the road the less traveled, the way down, the path of the suffering Servant.

Keeping our eyes on Christ, we see that pleasure does not come in and through sin- management.  We can't manipulate satisfaction and pleasure.  It comes through self-abandonment, the kind of cruciform life that looks as it cannot possibly offer fulfillment.  ... ... ..."    Chuck DeGroat

Read the context by following the link. The Myths are interesting.

26 November 2010

Affirmed, for the Right Reasons

My glass is more than half full . . . I have had a bumper day!

While my primary love language is probably acts of service, quality words of affirmation would be a close second.

Today has been full of conversations. They were not random conversations at intersections of busy roads. They were intentional conversations at intersections of lives, lives of people I care about.

In the midst of those conversations some encouragement was dished out, or maybe I just asked a good question. A few times I challenged what my family might refer to as "stinkin' thinkin", those negative thoughts that don't help anybody.

Anyway, as a result of some careful listening and well placed comments to others, I've been affirmed, thanked and appreciated. But get this . . .
The affirming comments people made to me were not about my hair or the colour of my eyes or my perfume. The comments were quality affirmations about me personally and the help I had been to the speaker.

When speaking with children, I often try to affirm or complement the right things. Sometimes we focus on the superficial or the performance of another person. What happens when the skin ages, the hair changes and the usefulness wanes? Does the value of the person diminish too?

I think not.

I'll not recount the exact sequence of my day or name names, but I noticed the kind words and am challenged again to do the same for others. A quality comment concerning something I intentionally try to do or be counts for a lot.

That might be true for you too. It might be true for those in your home or office.

25 November 2010

Baby Steps When You Should Be Running?

.... A lot of us are doing Christianity at a putt-putt level.

We want to be forgiven without following Jesus.


We're afraid to follow Jesus, because then we'd have to die and rise with him. We'd have to mortify our old self with its "fondest lusts," as Jonathan Edwards described them. Then we'd have to vivify Jesus' excellent virtues in their place.


The truth is, we're mildly attracted to his virtues, but we're strongly attracted to our vices. We wouldn't like to lose them because they please us, and the prospect of a significant life with Jesus doesn't so much.


Do we expect a new Christian life will just happen without our having to make inconvenient changes in how we live Monday to Sunday? If so, we are like people who want to be solvent and who also max out their credit cards. Or people who want to be sexually pure and who also bookmark porn sites. Or people who want to speak Japanese without all the tiresome study that's normally required.


Here's Willard's devastating summary:

The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the
same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know
to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human
character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

From my friend Cheryl. Find her blog In the Life of a Busy Woman

24 November 2010

Proverbs are not tidy

"Part of the difficulty with defining proverbs is that they do not conform to a neatly categorised genre. Their form, origins, content, purpose, structure, application, and a range of other aspects are so varied as to sometimes give the impression that there is no such single entity as a proverb. In some cases, a proverb can be something as basic as a moralising generalisation, while at the other end of the scale, it can be a complex and extremely culture-bound metaphor, conforming to an intricate structure, and containing several layers of encoded meaning."
Paul Moon in Traditional Maori Proverbs: Some General Themes published in Deep South v.3 n.1 Autumn 1997 /Copyright (c) 1997 by Paul Moon, Auckland Institute of Technology.

23 November 2010

Journey

Clouds puff
Surf swirls
Land rushes up to meet us.
Transition time
Down I get
Into arms to greet me.
Time passes
Colors fade
The journey takes them onward.
Memories come
Enriching within
Drawing me ever forward.

22 November 2010

Book List: Are these books you can't live without?

There are nearly as many lists of books as there are books these days! Everybody is making a list, all based on different criteria.

Are the following titles books you can't live without? The UK's Guardian suggests they might be, as a result of a poll. I reckon they have some good choices for a book club. Some overlap a bit, but don't worry about that. Just fossick through and see what inspires you.
  • Which ones have you read?
  • Which ones might you like to read?
  • Which ones are worth another read?
  • Which titles would you add to the list?
  • Are you in a book club?
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

18 November 2010

Unlearning?

The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue.

Antisthenes
____________________________________________________
Tim Rayner writes in Philosophy for Change,

"What do I need to know in order to effect change? What do I need to learn in order to bring change about? These are questions we inevitably ask as we set out to become agents of change. We should also ask: what do I need to unlearn in order to prepare myself for a new and different way of thinking, feeling, doing, or being? Unlearning is an important part of the process of change.

Change and innovation both call for unlearning. To think anything new, and to see what could be new in things, one must learn to unlearn what one already knows. Think of experiences you’ve had of working towards change (in whatever respect), and reaching a moment in which you saw that change was actually possible, and more than possible, inevitable. This is a moment of renewal – a new beginning. There is a world of learning to be done in order to prepare oneself for a new beginning. But to actually become the new beginning, to enter wholeheartedly into the process of change, one must undergo a process of unlearning, and refashion one’s understand of what it means to be in the world.

Martin Heidegger’s philosophy provides a framework for thinking about the role of learning and unlearning in processes of change. Heidegger argues that human understanding is first and foremost a circumspective understanding of the environment of our practical concerns. Our ‘intentional’ understanding of objects, problems, and things is grounded in a more basic mode of apprehension. We have a pre-reflective understanding of the background or ‘horizon’ of our concerns. This shifting background informs our every act of understanding and judgement.
Heidegger’s existential hermeneutics provides an interesting perspective on learning and unlearning in processes of change. Heidegger says that to understand the meaning and significance of an object or item of knowledge, we must attune ourselves to a certain background of practices. We must enter in the ‘world’ of the object or item of knowledge and become accustomed to treating it in ways that a community expects it to be treated. We must accustom ourselves to the discourses and practices surrounding the object to understand it as the object it is.

Extrapolating from this, we see that to change one’s understanding of life or any part of it, one must transform the cognitive-existential background on the basis of which one understands. One must unlearn how to come at things from the perspective of a certain background or horizon of understanding." Read more of Tim Rayner at the above link.

What do you need to unlearn?

17 November 2010

Don't you wish you'd thought of Facebook?

Facebook Messages? A new app or a revolution in communication?

Joel Seligstein writes on the Facebook blog,
"the next generation who will have something like Facebook for their whole lives. They will have the conversational history with the people in their lives all the way back to the beginning: From "hey nice to meet you" to "do you want to get coffee sometime" to "our kids have soccer practice at 6 pm tonight." That's a really cool idea.

The Social Inbox

It seems wrong that an email message from your best friend gets sandwiched between a bill and a bank statement. It's not that those other messages aren't important, but one of them is more meaningful. With new Messages, your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately.

Facebook stats:
  • More than 500 million active users on Facebook
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • More than 70 translations available on the site
  • About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
What comes to mind for me with the Facebook email potential is that:

1. You have to be where your friends are. It's called social media for a reason. If that's where your community is, then it makes sense you'll have a presence there too.

2. Privacy is a huge priority for most people in their email. Can Facebook turn their reputation around? Reality is something altogether different, but Facebook's reputation is that there has been some question as to privacy issues and the access they, third party apps and hackers have to personal information.

Will 1. outweigh concerns over 2.?
500 million people will decide, intentionally or not, and Facebook will continue as a decider
in social media, or become a dinosaur replaced by another visionary's must-have app.

LifeHacker says, "A little more than a decade ago, web-based email products overtook the messaging scene. These days, SMS messages and social network pings are replacing traditional phone calls for many—at least in the hyper-connected first world. Perhaps Facebook's deep integration with your friends and contacts, and its ability to provide greater context and pre-loaded media for messages, could stage a similar revolution in email."

Then Lifehacker asks you to participate in a survey; whether you'd move to an email service provided by a social media site, i.e. Facebook.

One of the funny things for those of us who remember CompuServe, AOL and before is that none of us could have predicted then what we are doing now. See stats above.

We can only guess how the iPad has and will change things. Look at the pervasiveness of mobile phones, with cameras and browsers, and what people have learned to do with them.

I take a photo of the table in the Consumer magazine that tells me which bread is best for me. I then check that photo on my phone when I'm buying bread. What would my grandmother have thought of that process?? She wrote her list out on a scrap of paper and carried it in her handbag.