As Usual

As usual, it has been some time since posting on this wonderful service. Almost daily, I have a thought or thoughts that are strung together into an idea. These might be shared in conversation with co-workers or friends who allow me to call them from miles and miles away. More often, my thoughts or ideas are confined to my own mind and heart. Is no one interested; are there any ears to hear? Sure there are. It is my responsibility to find the listener, the reader, the audience for what has been given me to say. While no perceptible barriers exist to my exchange of ideas with the multitudes of participants on this or other web blogs, I have been blocked by an inner inertia. There is a dampening of passions that surround the making of a simple point. But I guess I am interested enough in the process to pursue the outing of a point of fact or observation, despite what barriers are self-imposed. So,  the lack of interest on the part of a range of audiences is of little effect on my desire. Admittedly, I have to keep moving, turning toward what appears to be a more receptive partner.

At Easter

It’s 2012; make that two thousand and twelve at Easter. Over 2000 years have passed since the arrival of Jesus Christ on earth. he came to reboot our tattered lives then and vowed to return to do the same thing again. Why were we and are we in the same shape, after such a long passage of time? There are more scholars on the subject that gold bars hidden throughout the world. I am not going to add mine right now. But few can argue that our world is struggling greatly to keep up appearances–disputing the facts of our disabling ignorance of God and His purpose for mankind.

In this century, we have improved our ability to connect with each other in ways that would have been considered magical a century ago or 20 centuries ago. But there is something more significant than all of the technology combined that we share with our ancestors of 40 generations ago. Our mind, heart and soul can immediately understand the story of Christ–his emergence, his frustration, decision, and the path of his death have been repeated by (arguably) less significant heroes through thousands of years of history. This is important because we need stories that we can understand. The reason Hollywood did not perish with the advent of TV and travel is that people still need to experience powerful stories, tales that tug at my heart and soul. The Bible is our original script history. Yeah, I know that there are other texts and even oral traditions the world over that tell their own stories with cultural affinity to the people of the land. Yet the ubiquity of the biblical legends testify to how much we all can connect with what happened to the people described in those 66 books.
I gotta go, but I hope you can think of this Easter season in an especially important light. Jesus’ resurrection was intended to lift us all up. We have to know fundamentally what was lost at the time of Adam’s separation from God, and what stands to be gained by embracing the union of God and Christ in the context of our own lives. For starters, honesty, peace, and freedom are universal aspirations for nations across the world. Is it your aspiration? So amazing that generations come and go, but the struggle – like a deadly virus – lives on. The returning Christ can put an end to this “resident evil” once and for all. it’s time we got ready.

Today and Tomorrow

There was a day of opportunity that is just behind us now. It was 4/3/12. These are each such significant numbers that something about April 3 of this year begged to be relished. Easier still to remember (right now) is what that day was like for you and me, as it was only yesterday. So what’s in a day anyway? They come and go so quickly that we cannot really keep them, or hold them near to us for but a few hours. Not even is the sum of 24 hours available to us.The most precious thing I can recall probably took place over a span of minutes. All of those other hours were not lost–spent reading, writing, and speaking of things related to work, food, entertainment and sharing with other people.

The person whose day is spent with others for a love purpose has the richest of experiences in a day. There are more memories, emotions, questions, and Kodak moments. There are also words shared that reached into the depths of someone’s soul to comfort, confide, stimulate and touch them in a way they never felt before. A day can be filled with worry and uncertainty–thoughts of what is and isn’t and what may be. When there is doubt, there should always be a counterweight to it. Something that lets me know what is still guaranteed or promised to me. But is there such a promise that can balance the gravest of doubts or allay the most persistent anxiety? Yes, it is the love of God.

And while this seems a pat answer to many, if not most of those age-old questions, an adult has to know that the love of God is real. We forget this simple fact over and over and over again, because the daily encounters of our lives seem so much more real and important. But take a deep breath and ask yourself, do these pesky things constantly flying in my face really make up the total of my life’s value? There would be no sense if it did! The child will ask you one day, What was the point of all that we did and ran about, shouted about and cried about?” At the time, it seems that nothing else would ever matter, but that thing that we have, or wanted, or lost. The question is whether the value of a word, an embrace, a kiss or another gift is tied to the incorruptable and unchanging love of the Creator.

If we intend what we say and do to be a love offering for the sake of God, we are sending Him a gift of ourselves. It goes like this: love the visible, but seek the invisible. Know that His heart is open to your heart and my heart. And in reaching out in search of that love, we take care of those around us, His love will return to us many times over. My pastor used the analogy of a shovel. With my small shovel, I give love in honor of God, who is the source. Well, God returns love with his shovel. Now, it should be easy to understand that God’s shovel is so very much bigger that my shovel, right?
So the title is today and tomorrow. All we have is today; but there is a strong hope that tomorrow will come. I love you today, I pray, with the love that comes from the source. What good is my own tattered and uneven love to you? I’m sorry and I apologize. It would never be enough and it would never do for one as precious as you are. No, only love that comes from the wellspring of heaven should reach your delicate heart, giving you peace in spite of the storms that come. By grace, may God give true love to you, through my words, my touch, my kiss and embrace. For this I may pose as childlike and open-minded to you. To allow Christ to give me a clean heart, an honesty that welcomes your every appeal; that speaks to your eyes without the words of broken sounds that serve only the visible world. There is so much more, and I search you, knowing that what was planted in you and I so very long ago can bear fruit now, now that we have finally met. Today is the day I will give my heart and soul to you completely. And as grace abides, I will give them to you tomorrow too.

Time to Engage

So it’s been many months since my last foray into the world of words (or at least my words). It is inevitable that time will dictate what you will do and what you will be. For many of us, we are only a shadow of what we wanted to become even in the eyes of others, let alone ourselves. I had a mission: to bring my people to the love of God as I, yes I, had experienced it. When did this happen? In my younger days -those times which seemed to drone on forever and are now remembered fondly, with a longing for their return. You say you make sacrifices for the one you love. How come they don’t see it that way. You find out that they still thought you were out for your own joy and satisfaction. OK, so then months and years pass. Don’t really mind if my motives are misunderstood; but there had better be victory at the end of this long slog. No victory you say? No promotion, no kind severance, no retirement account; nothing. Since I am so gd smart and knew all the noble moves to make, I’m left holding the bag, or box of my things as I move out of this office. It’s nobody’s fault but mine. I should have–no never mind. You learned something and are still alive to tell about it, in your own words. So for that I thank God. Has this happened to you? If so, let me know about it. I’m not asking out of misery, but it a survey to see how common disappointment is in year 12.

The Hot Room

I guess I am writing today because I like to write. I’m in the hot room of the house; actually, it’s the room of extreme temperatures, I suppose, because it’s the cold room in winter. I have a runny nose–something going around Philadelphia or at least at my office this week. So, while I call this post the hot room, simply because I’ve changed into my shorts and can bear it long enough to say something, it’s not my topic. The topic is, what can we do about this mess that we are in? What mess, you say. Perhaps we’ll call it a conundrum of sorts.

We–the readers and writers of WordPress, are thinking people; not unlike many thinking persons reading and writing all kinds of thoughtful and thought-provoking stuff in the blogosphere these days. We are aware people: aware of housing prices, low job growth, terrorism (as an idea, at least), the costs of war, globalization, disease, famine and lots of good stuff that’s going on as well. Have you noticed that good news has gotten more and more anecdotal–affecting one or a few of us, while bad news affects hundreds if not hundreds of thousands at a time? What’s up with that? The last great thing that I know of that brought joy to millions in my community all at one time was winning the world series of baseball. We celebrated like we had won the war on terror, or drugs, or poverty. And there was, for a short time, a war on ignorance, fought by courageous teachers and school counselors deployed throughout the country. Well, it seems the latter ‘conflict’ is winding down. It was never a war, after all–requiring congressional deliberations and consent. It was more of a situation, where people living in counties underfunded by property taxes did not and do not get the quality education that one may have thought was their American birthright. Periodically, conscientious people, today’s abolishionists in my view, will rant about inequality and such; but to no avail. Now, the view that the fight for great education–let’s call it freedom from ignorance, since the war on terror intends to make us free from fear–is one we can’t win, is starting to prevail. More and more, legislatures, mayors and governors are saying we can’t afford to pay the troops (teachers and counselors); and things aren’t so bad these days anyway. Look, we don’t need everybody to be educated. Then we’ll be out of handymen, seamstresses and waiters. Ok, not waiters, it seems a college degree has become the prerequisite  to work at many a fine eatery.

Don’t get me wrong, as satirical as some of this may sound, or cynical to you optimists, I’m trying to convey a different sort of message. That we have been saddled with jokes, entertainment, fine food and music to the degree that, when we hear about how our society is going to hell in a hand basket, we call the message a buzz kill. Like the guys who predicted the economic collapse that happened and is still happening. They were ignored, laughed at, and otherwise marginalized. And the fact that they were right hardly helped anyone–even them. It really crystallizes the idea of shooting the messenger, in hopes that the message will go away.

Those of us who know better suffer from the “know better blues.” You have to pretend that the shows on tv, the big games or matches or some other trivial thing really does matter. Why? Because it matters a great deal to almost everyone we know. So I’ll play along. Am I saying I don’t like a great movie, or music or even a slamming party? Not saying that; but hey, there’s a bunch of work over here–hey, over here–that needs to be done. I’ve made up my mind to pay attention to global warming, the water shortage–underreported in the news– and the education crisis. I’ve been to many a party and had a ball, more fun, as they say, than the law should allow. So, it’s my time to help save something for the next generation, especially since I have one.

A final observation: in the history of mankind, it is very, very seldom, that more than a few individuals get together and commit to build a bridge to the future. Even the most intelligent among us seem to be absorbed by our own single-generation goals and aspirations. If someone says, “I want to make sure that there is still water on the planet by the end of this century for the people that should be here,” it sounds kind of dumb, don’t you think? You know neither you or I will be around, so who cares, right? Well, your kids and grandkids, you know. We wish them the very best of luck, really, sincerely. But am I gonna spend my golden years trying to do something about it? No. But let’s not condemn ourselves. Of the billions of folks who have ever walked this planet, only a handful have made the prosperity of future generations the focus of their life’s work. There’s a great story in the Bible of how Jesus, after having showed many a miracle to his followers, including his resurrection from the dead, still had to tell them he was coming back very soon, specifically before they died. I’m not calling my Savior a liar; but this just illustrates that people only care about what happens in their lifetime.  If he says I’ll be back in, oh, say 2000 (+) years, the disciples, not much different than you and I, would look at him like he’s lost it.

The bane of existence for thinking and well-informed people, is the truth. It’s what makes us sometimes envy the fun loving, ignorant people all around us who just want to have fun. Hey, we can have fun too. Let’s just make up our minds to do something really useful, while we’re at it.

Coming back to WordPress to blog some more

Coming back to WordPress to blog some more

On Technology

I went to school back when technology was something people knew a lot about or a little, depending on what they did for a living. For example, the scientist, mathematician, artist, doctor or chef knew next to nothing about technology first-hand. Instead, they deferred to the philosopher, psychologist or economist to explain to them what tech was and where it was relevant. This may explain why doctors still know less about using technology than, say, a graphic artist. For the latter, like the architect, knowing how to use the latest technology is critical to what they do. For the physician, what is critical is what they know — what’s in their brains and how good they are at utilizing what they’ve learned/remembered from ‘practice’.

So tech has changed a great deal in 30 years. Even those of us who use all kinds of electronic tools or toys each day, and that’s everybody here, know very little about the back story to technology as we now live with it. Here is where a little animation might fit in nicely, if you’ve not seen some of the RSA animate talks on YouTube, check out the links at the bottom. Not to digress much, technology has provided a means for people to calm themselves, to feel a part of the bigger thing that’s going on and to have that sense of being in the know. But when you just check yourself out in the morning or evening or afternoon quiet, do you really believe you know what’s going on and what you are a part of? The reason why many of us don’t (if we’re honest), is that tech was never meant to provide these things to you. The objects of technology are meant to be treated objectively as a proxy for real experience–a surrogate. In that sense, a music and video player provides me with a substitute for the experience of sitting in front of a person playing a tune with people running around doing things while the music is playing. It’s stimulating to sit by a creek and simply hear the movement of the water rumbling along its path. All of my senses are stimulated by it. Not just my eyes and ears. What about my sense of touch, or smell and taste.

You know, space has a lot to do with technology. If you don’t have any space to stretch out in, you can make believe you do by just playing with a pocket device, like a portable game or music player. These provide a false feeling of  ‘ok-ness;’ but then there’s the let down after using up all of the songs, the levels, the minutes, the something that is measured and usually priced. Unlimited minutes and data are great, though, aren’t they? That should do it. Why doesn’t it? Remember, I started by writing that technology is not well understood by those whom you would think use it the most. The artist, which I am not, understands the limits of technology quite well.  She knows that tools extend her reach onto the canvas or with the raw material which she is about to fashion into an image that expresses … something. The computer and a program enables her to render more from her imagination than mere sticks and oils ever could. But she knows there is a creative cost for her excursion into the realm of  surfeit tools and processed manipulations.  Technology says what you can do. But who or what says you should do it? Did you get the memo; were your parents or mine asked whether we wanted easy access to friends and neighbors with the click of a button or the flip of a switch? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. It’s just that I did not order it or know it was on the menu.

Until now — or let’s say 20 years ago, we could see most things coming and decide if and when we wanted them to arrive at our doorstep. As it is today, we don’t know what is coming next; and if it arrives tomorrow in our inbox or as a tweet or a scroll on our wall, we will only be able to say OMG, right. Maybe because I’m old, I don’t see the value in having my sensibilities attacked constantly in this way. When you turn on the TV, you must have the remote handy or you are likely to be experience emotions that you aren’t prepared for. You must protect yourself, because we’ve lost control over the things that have been made. And our privacy is compromised, big time. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. People are not as comfortable with themselves as we used to be.  So many may feel like they don’t particularly want to be alone, have waking time to themselves. The phone rings, there’s a text, a twit, a message all of the time. Makes you feel kind of special, until you look at it objectively. Look, I think it matters that you feel good about yourself. Go ahead and utilize all the tools and gadgets tech has provided us with to maintain that comfort. Just don’t forget that the thing is not the thing. Friends on face book are not friends in my living room or at my kitchen table or next to me on the beach. The latter folks never ask to be my electronic friend. They visit, call, and  touch me in the old-fashioned ways.

Be like the artist. Use these fun things to get serious work done–for your school, your town and your planet. Check out websites like Open Culture, Kevin Kelly and TED to find out about real stuff. I mean, tech is great for looking out of your window (your eyes) and seeing what is happening everywhere. Then we have to decide how we are going to make a real difference in the real world, because the surrogates won’t.

http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/    http://www.openculture.org    http://ted.org

‘FIRST WORDPRESS’!

This is an original post. First, let me say that this is not my first attempt at blogging or the first laptop on which I have typed a blog. Why does that matter? The laptop or desktop you are using to read this message is one that has probably become near and dear to you. You like the feel of the keyboard and trackpad or mouse. The screen is satisfying to your eyes and in general, the device feels like an extension of your hands and head. If you also use it for lots of writing, then it’s even more important that it looks and feels great to you. That’s what I mean. I like this little Latitude D510. It hits the mark for me. Now as for my blog today. It’s not this…

Instead, I want to write about how current technology extends our ability to express what we are thinking and facilitates organizing these thoughts in a common and coherent way. More important than organizing my individual thoughts, the expressions of millions of people are configured under singular conventions. Before microsoft, apple, and facebook, people had to develop their own creative method for expressing themselves to others in business, education, banking, and uh, relationships. Getting together and breaking up was done face to face and in your face, respectively for centuries. Then there came the paper written letter and the telephone calls–endless telephone calls…until the last one. Now, we feel criticized if we use a means outside of the ‘provided’ technological means to communicate. But we are the author not only of our own message but also our own mechanism for expressing that message. You get it?