I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part III)

December 30, 2011

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For all my myriad of faults, when I commit to a work, I am invested in going the distance. So when I formally confirmed that I would be going to Tanzania, come hell or high-water, I was going to find myself in Africa. It was then the problems began to pile up. The ‘old’ me would have expected this, but as I mentioned previously, I was just getting my spiritual footing again in the area of service. I should have been familiar with this ‘cause and effect’ process by now, but apparently I had become spiritually rusty as of late.

The principal is this. Whenever someone takes a step of faith, the one thing that you can count on is that problems will begin to surface. It seems as if the entire world, previously occupied in a plethora of various disparate pursuits, is suddenly solely focused on providing reasons for you to second guess your step of faith and the excuses to extricate yourself from the commitment begin to pile up. It’s the Death of the Vision principal. God gives you a vision of something amazing that you can accomplish or be part of and immediately afterwards, the world conspires to killing the vision. At that point, you can give up and walk away; many people do BUT if you move forward in faith, holding true to the original vision, the vision which had died is miraculously resurrected, frequently even bigger.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part II)

December 29, 2011

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Everyone is wired differently. The things that motivate one person may fall flat when used to motivate someone else. I have found that I am wired to be needed. Let me clarify. If someone approaches me with a request that I can’t turn down (the Godfather request); basically telling me that I have to do something, then my first instinct is to dig my heels in and resist, regardless of whether or not I want to do it OR have the spare time to do it. Reason usually wins out in the end and I determine whether or not I can fully commit to the request or not.

However, if someone approached me and I am there last option and instead of telling me that I have to do it, they appeal to me based on their valid need for me to help them out; then I have a hard time saying no to that type of request. It usually leads to me overcommitting myself and stressing myself out, but the service tends to be its own reward. Those of you, who give of your time to charitable works, understand what I mean by that.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part I)

December 28, 2011

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There are some who believe that our lives are defined by our mistakes. Our mistakes become who we are and how we will be forever known. It has been said that the mistakes we all make, the seemingly indiscriminate trials that are beset upon us and the hurts that are inflicted upon us, are our story.

Let me reassure you that while they are a small part of our story, they are not the entirety of our story. They do not have to define our life. Really they are not even the most interesting parts of our story. The really interesting part of our personal story is what happens next. How do we respond to our mistakes after we make them? How do we respond when tragedy hits us? How do we respond when others inflict hurts upon us? That’s when the audience leans forward in their seats, captivated to see, how we respond, how we move forward.

The truest measure of a person’s character is not whether or not they have made mistakes. We have all made mistakes and we will all continue to make mistakes, so long as we are alive. The truest test of our character is how we respond to our mistakes. Those are the really interesting and pivotal moments of our life story. I am discovering that the dark valleys of our life do not have to define us or defeat us. If we allow ourselves to see behind the curtain, the dark valleys are really places of learning and growth, but only if we do not allow them to keep us discouraged and overwhelmed by self-pity.

Sure, we all desire the mountain top experience, where we have peace and clarity, but the best fruit is grown in the valley. If we are to grow, each one of us will need to walk through those valleys of trial. Walking through those valleys can be the defining moments of our life, not because we experience them, but based on how we respond to them; how we move forward. If you are experiencing a trial, the audience is leaning forward in their seats, to see how you fight back and move forward. You are not alone; the experience is part of all of our stories. It is part of my story.

Circle Mirror Transformation (Seattle Repertory)

October 28, 2011

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Seattle Repertory (www.seattlerep.org) opens its production of Circle Mirror Transformation written by the promising young playwright, Annie Baker.  Directed by Andrea Allen, CMT is set in the “artsy small” fictional town of Shirley, Vermont and candidly explores the complicated and frequently messy world of human relationships.  Through the backdrop of an improvisational adult drama workshop […]

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (The Microsoft Theatre Troupe)

October 25, 2011

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The Microsoft Theatre Troupe kicked off its 16th Season, October 20th with a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s unconventional comedic musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Sweeney Todd tells the story of Benjamin Barker, a man who has had everything of value wrongfully taken from him including his freedom, his wife and daughter and his very own identify as he is forced to become Sweeney Todd. He returns from his false imprisonment in Australia only to discover that his wife has killed herself after being raped by the man who sentenced him to jail. It gets worse. Since the suicide of his wife, his daughter Joanna has been raised as a ward by very same man…Judge Turpin.

The 39 Steps (SecondStory Repertory)

October 24, 2011

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The SecondStory Repertory kicks off its fall season with The 39 Steps, a clever and fanciful fast paced comedic thriller adapted by Patrick Barlow from the John Buchan novel; though perhaps best known from the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie. Directed by Teresa Thuman, The 39 Steps stars Emily Cawley, Frank Lawler, James Lyle and Mark Waldstein who together aptly take on and meet the challenge of portraying over one hundred different characters throughout the play.

Humor Abuse (Seattle Repertory)

October 10, 2011

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The Seattle Repertory kicked off its 2011 season with Humor Abuse – a well-crafted engaging biographical production which explores one man’s search for independence, meaning and identity in the shadow of his larger than life, vaudeville-legend father and life growing up in San Francisco’s illustrious Pickle Family Circus. Humor Abuse, written by Lorenzo Pisoni and directed by Erica Schmidt, explores the universal experience of growing up, finding oneself and making peace with imperfect parents but wisely does so by evoking empathy for young Lorenzo while avoiding syrupy melodrama.

Sleep Walkin’ or Doin’ Time

October 3, 2011

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...Most of life goes by like a late night movie watched while sprawled out half asleep on your couch with the lights off. It takes on a dreamlike quality, edges blurred and the details fuzzy. You have a vague nagging sense that something important is transpiring, but you seem distant, detached and far removed from it.

Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery: Freethinker or Well Programmed Automaton

September 27, 2011

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Like Rome of old, each one of us knowingly or unknowingly incorporates personal experiences into our existing playbook; the repertoire of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. It can be as mundane and innocent as incorporating lines from movies into day-to-day communications with friends. I can recall how 25-40% of my vocabulary with friends in high school was driven from endlessly repeating lines from movies or television shows like: Stripes, Caddyshack, SCTV, Blade Runner, Harold and Maude, Repo Man, etc. Why, because in that community of friends, it was expected. It was understood that if you wanted to engage with these folks successfully, you needed to have a familiarity with these kinds of movies or shows. People gained their sense of identify from being in that group.

Sometimes We Get Lost

September 18, 2011

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There are times in my life when I can become almost paralyzed by a continual self-examination and the attempt to break down my own thoughts, actions and the motivations behind them. Other times, it can feel like days, months and even years go by with barely even a rudimentary acknowledgement of their passing or personal reflection back upon them. Why at times I am one way and other times I am another, I don't fully understand, but what I do know is that in this tumultuous life, it is easy to get lost. The worst kind of 'being lost' being when we do not even realize how lost we are, because in our own minds, we have deceived ourselves into believing we have it all together.

Modern Christianity: All Take and No Give

September 16, 2011

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As human beings we all carry within ourselves a myriad of past experiences; some joyful and others painful, each uniquely shaping the way that we make sense of the world around us. All of our life experiences change us. Sometimes the effects are subtle almost imperceptible, while other times the influences are significant and life changing. We are changed, regardless of whether or not we are consciously aware of the impact or not. We live each day, we are altered and frequently, we are forced to develop more and more complex coping skills. These skill are employed on the hope that they can heighten our experiences of joy and lessen our experiences of pain.

Will the Real Me, Please Stand Up

September 14, 2011

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You have this detailed image, a concept of who you are. You support it with a convenient set of memories of events which support your supposition. I am a decent, honest guy, trying to do the right thing, get through this life and hurt as few people as I can in the process. To continue believing that you also need to conveniently forget the times when you acted completely contrary to that carefully crafted image. You can think, for your entire life that you are one way and then in one defining moment, that glass house you have carefully built over the decades can be shattered. One day, you know who you are, everything is clear and you feel confident about your place in the universe; the next you are lost.

Christmas Tree Compromise

September 13, 2011

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I know it's too early to start talking about Christmas, but I was thinking that many relationships or marriages are like picking out a Christmas Tree. These two roommates both love Christmas, but each of them has a very specific type of Christmas Tree that they like. One likes tall and thin trees while they other likes short and fat trees. Since they can't agree upon the type of tree that they like, they decide to compromise and a medium-sized tree and they both accept it but neither of them is truly delighted with it.

Does It Really Require Much Discernment to Separate the Authentic from the Counterfeit?

September 3, 2011

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Even a casual watcher of American Idol Season 10 understands that there is a qualitative difference between a gifted professional singer and a hack. My definition of a hack being someone who seeks to convince others, along with themselves perhaps, that they are gifted at something which they are not. This lack of talent in that arena does not stop them from exercising it and even feeling good about their effort.

A Picture, Even if Painted with Words, Speaks Volumes

September 2, 2011

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The human brain doesn't function/learn as if it had a hard drive to store specific knowledge and memories. While knowledge doesn't need to be packaged into campfire stories, using your own word, it does make it more "memorable". A picture, even if painted with words, speaks volumes. That’s what parables are and that’s why they are some memorable – pictures are the way our brains learn.

Sorry, Can’t Hear You over the Voice in My Head

September 1, 2011

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The two most difficult things to patiently endure when discussing one’s personal beliefs with others has to do with: 1.Navigating the minefield of predisposed prejudices, assumptions and opinions that others have about your beliefs before you even have the chance to explain your position. It’s those Blind Spots that we all have. Sometimes that filter can be so strong, that they may not even be able to hear you over the voice in their own head. 2.Controlling your emotions when someone, intentionally or mistakenly, misrepresents your position. It’s the Straw man logical fallacy where you hold position X; someone disregards certain points of X and instead presents a similar position Y. Y being a distorted version of X. They then attack Y, concluding that position X is false. "A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position." - Wikipedia.com

Serving Two Masters

August 31, 2011

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It has been said that you cannot serve two masters, for you will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. I find this true within the workplace. When individual exaltation or organizational self-promotion takes precedence over the focus on the indisputably important services of a company, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep focused on securing the truly important from the propagating mass of politically important self-serving projects.

Posted in: Rants

Conversations with an Atheist

August 30, 2011

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It has been said that the atheist has created his own religion, where his God is called “Chance”. That may be well be true, but I have found in discussions with one of my friend (the self-proclaimed spokesman for all Atheists) that when an atheist cannot explain why they believe something, they do what they accuse Christians of doing, and appeal to Blind Faith. No, their appeal is not to a Supreme Being or divinely inspired holy text but in something we call the Scientific Method. For my friend, the Scientific Method has become his personal safety net used to explain everything. It turns out to be extremely efficient and effective for him, as he no longer has to spend the time considering all the evidence.

Have We Have Become Comfortably Numb?

August 29, 2011

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Comfortable. The most dangerous place for people (especially the Church) to be is when we allow ourselves to become comfortable…comfortable not just in our physical living conditions but in an attitude of acceptance or resignation that the tragedies occurring around us are just normal everyday things which will never go away. We become calloused; deaf to the plight and pain of others. How else could we ever become comfortable enjoying our ‘stuff’ unless we were able to quiet the voice of conscience within us?

Scarface was Right, We are the Masters of Deflection

August 28, 2011

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I think that most of us, especially those in the church, fear being known and knowing others. We isolate ourselves; stay home (think ostrich with its head in the ground), so we do not have to learn that our neighbors (or friends or family) are in ‘need’. It’s as if, so long as we are not consciously aware of a specific problem, we are not accountable for how we respond.