Selective Empathy

Every time I think I have a healthy view of others, something reminds me of the darkness of my own heart and my need to adjust my thinking. Just when I think I’ve reached maturity, I get a glimpse of how much my character still needs developing. While I usually write on timeless issues, I must present this topic in light of recent events—terrorist attacks. All humanity is facing the reality of an energized movement committed to world domination. To them, it’s a holy war not only sanctioned, but commanded by God. How members of ISIS can excuse their actions is likely a topic for another day; it does show the propensity of humankind to justify belief systems—no matter how diabolical—and to control. The same predisposition exists in us all. But the topic at hand is how we parse out empathy and compassion willy-nilly. After the Paris bombings, Facebook, the press and the Western world in general were awash in chatter, prayers, moments of silence and monuments lit up in the colors of the French flag. There was a huge outpouring of love and support. But where was any sense of Western compassion when 14-year-old Ali Awad and more than 40 others lost their lives in double suicide attacks in Beirut the day before? It hardly made the American news. A Lebanese doctor wrote in a blog article titled, A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives, “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag…There was no global outrage…Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”* Another group dismissed was the Russian tourists. Where was the international outcry when it was...

Shit Happens

Why do people question their faith when shit happens? Why do we get angry with our sources of comfort at the very time we need them–when we suffer?! Why does bad stuff even happen? I have some friends who are struggling with serious health issues right now. We all know folks in similar circumstances, or suffer the same afflictions ourselves. There are certainly times we think we have exhausted our “rope,” with little left to hang on to and life has seemingly left us hanging (out to dry). The very people and sources we look to for answers and comfort often let us down. The preachers and the clichés and the well-meaning friends do not always help. In fact, they often create or magnify the very struggles we encounter. To be honest, they are no help at best and disgustingly annoying at worst. There is a lot of bullshit out there. And when shit happens, the last thing you need are some bullshit explanations or pat answers. I think a lot of the stuff we, and others, struggle with are just really stupid ideas. Here are a few I have identified that perhaps you can identify with. First of all, shit happens. We live in a really messed up world where even good intentions often result in lousy situations. We have a great need for answers. And when we can’t find answers or struggle to make sense of senseless situations, we make up stuff. The human mind is outstandingly creative, and when given time and thought, can come up with all sorts of answers, whether they’re true or not. We buy into myths. That’s right, we believe all kinds of stuff in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. The problem is, these contrived...

Quantum Entanglement

We are all connected in ways we are oblivious to. So I am immensely interested in the cross-section between science, social science (the study of humans) and spirituality. I love subjects of inquiry such as that surrounding quantum entanglement, which attempts to explain the ways that we are, indeed, connected. So I have to share this most recent article by Franciscan, Richard Rohr: Just as different ways of interpreting scripture and various types of truth (e.g., literal vs. mythic) are valuable for different purposes, so scientific theories have different applications while seeming to be paradoxical and irreconcilable. For example, we have the Newtonian theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum theory. Physicists know that each of them is true, yet they don’t fit together and each is limited and partial. Newtonian mechanics can’t model or predict the behavior of massive or quickly moving objects. Relativity does this well, but doesn’t apply to very, very small things. Quantum mechanics succeeds on the micro level. But we don’t yet have an adequate theory for understanding very small, very energetic, very massive phenomenon, such as black holes. Scientists are still in search of a unified theory of the universe. Perhaps the term “quantum entanglement” names something that we have long intuited, but science has only recently observed. Here is the principle in layperson’s terms: in the world of quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle–even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances. Could this be what is happening when we “pray” for somebody? Scientists don’t know how far this phenomenon applies beyond very rare particles, but quantum entanglement...

Nonverbal Communication...

A  guest article by Jennifer Larson “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker We all have an invitation to honor people in our lives. Our ability to respond to those we cross paths with is endless. It is through our silent and subtle gestures that we offer the most to each other. A simple smile, wink, or nod can promote positive energy and positive change. Nonverbal Communication is defined as behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words. It includes how we say things (pitch, volume, etc.) as well as facial expressions, artifacts (like rings, clothes, tattoos, architecture, etc.), gestures, smell, touch, use of silence, personal space and the like. Nonverbal is an important aspect of human connection. It is essential to our relationships and interactions, no matter how brief, with others. One of the most powerful books I’ve read on nonverbal communication is by Geoff Blackwell. Humanity: A Celebration of Friendship, Love, and Laughter, with countless images from all over the globe. It is a book that doesn’t need captions, as the emotion is felt with the turning of each page. This extraordinary book displays gestures of tenderness, intimacy, love, curiosity, surprise, and struggle. The images in this book expose simple and casual gestures, however, the meaning is powerful. The book is an intimate reminder to all of us that communication is more than the words we speak. We have an essential need for nonverbal communication on a daily basis. This includes both the abbreviated interactions as well as the lengthy meetings with people that share our day. It increases opportunity for a productive workplace and reduces conflict in our relationships. When we engage with people nonverbally, we communicate their significance in our lives...

What Size Is God?

The real question is, what size is YOUR God? We don’t know much. We try to find truth and figure things out, but we’re all just searching, often guessing. But this I know, if your God fits in a small box, your image of God is likely due for a makeover. When I was a child, we learned there are nine planets, with Pluto being the smallest. Today scientists argue on whether Pluto is even a planet at all, and in 2014, announced the discovery of 715 new planets outside of earth’s solar system. They think there are likely billions of stars, and our sun is one of the smaller ones. NASA estimates the Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across. As space probes travel further and further from earth, we are finding not only more and more galaxies, but clusters of galaxies! Perhaps one of the coolest discoveries is that not only is there more to find, but the universe itself continues to expand. Notice the image with this article. It’s actually named, “Celestial Maternity Ward N81!” It’s all rather mind-blowing! How cool is that? The universe we thought was quantifiable and static, or even dying, continues to grow. Growth and expansion are a mark of the universe. Should they not also mark of our lives and understanding of God and reality? If the universe is as big or bigger than we thought, how big God must be! If the creation is this magnificent and expanding, how much greater the creator! Yet a great irony is the extent to which we have made God so small. We make God fit into small buildings and tiny communion cups. We’ve created a myriad of boxes and forced God inside. We think how boring religion is, so...