All That Jazz

April is jazz appreciation month, which the Smithsonian (a U.S. National Museum) calls both a historic and living American art form. Since jazz is the most free and flexible of all musical genres, this seems like a good time to examine those characteristics in our lives. Acclaimed trumpet musician, Herbie Hancock said, “The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.” I think that’s what many people find so fascinating about the musical form. It is by nature, open. It’s open to ideas, changes, improvisation, expression, collaboration, and creativity. I find it interesting that in playing jazz, a musician can be both part of something, yet unique at the same time. There is the whole, but there is the distinctiveness of individuals. But some people don’t like freethinking, creative expression, or new ideas. No wonder jazz was outlawed in various times and places like Nazi Germany. The Soviets didn’t outlaw it, but they openly criticized it. Even in the U.S., at least 60 communities banned jazz from being played in public dance halls in the 1920s. One has to ask what people were afraid of! Which begs the question, what you YOU afraid of? Like much great art, jazz came out of tremendous suffering. It is the product of slavery, oppression, and struggle. Sounds like the great themes of life, doesn’t it? Sometimes we are tempted to let the hard knocks of life close us down and make us hard. But if we let tough times change us, we can actually become more open, honest and trusting, and graduate to a new level of personal maturity. If musicians had been satisfied to maintain the status quo, we would never have experienced jazz. Rather, many transformed their pain and struggle into life, beauty, and openness; they continue...

041: Changing Your Mindset Apr15

041: Changing Your Mindset...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/41-Changing_Your_Mindset.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 32:19 — 29.6MB)A lovely chat about relationships, theology, the universe, kids, mistakes, regrets, struggles, personal worth, turning a life around, finding positivity and purpose.  Laura Thompson is a wife, mother, and owner of small businesses. Mostly she’s a happy, peaceful, articulate, fun and normal person who thinks about what is real and good and is trying to live life to the best she can. Laura’s essential oils website: http://www.iomaioilers.com A short video on Denmark, named the happiest place on earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_jo69ZTwbE  ...

Tea & Consent

Leave it to the Brits to come up with a clever message about sexual consent. Here is a little video used by British police to explain safe sexual boundaries using a most British staple,...

Know Thyself

How well do you know yourself? We tend to have a view of ourselves we think is accurate and complete. However, it’s just not true.

Fear or Love?

Every now and then you stumble upon a life-defining truth that is simple yet profound. I found such a concept in Neale Donald Walsch’s book, Conversations with God. I hope you too find it helpful in sorting out your motivations and actions. “Every action taken by human beings is based in love or fear, not simply those dealing with relationships. Decisions affecting business, industry, politics, religion, the education of your young, the social agenda of your nations, the economic goals of your society, choices involving war, peace, attack, defense, aggression, submission; determinations to covet or give away, to save or to share, to unite or to divide—every single free choice you ever undertake arises out of one of the only two possible thoughts there are: a thought of love or a thought of fear. Fear is the energy which contracts, closes down, draws in, runs, hides, hoards, harms. Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, stays, reveals, shares, heals. Fear wraps our bodies in clothing, love allows us to stand naked. Fear clings to and clutches all that we have, love gives all that we have away. Fear holds close, love holds dear. Fear grasps, love lets go. Fear rankles, love soothes. Fear attacks, love amends. Every human thought, word, deed is based in one emotion or the other. You have no choice about this, because there is nothing else from which to choose. But you have free choice about which of these to select.” So I ask along with the great wisdom of the universe. Will you think and act from a place of fear or love? Walsch, N.D. (1995). Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue. New York:...

Do It Anyway

Today I share from the wisdom of Mother Theresa: “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa   Royalty-free image by Amy Burton; retrieved from...

What is Easter, really?

According to The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Hirsch, Kett & Trefil, 1988), Easter is a holiday that every American needs to know about. Easter is a social construct, too.  That’s right; it is a made-up holiday celebrated differently by diverse people around the world. It’s considered a most holy day, along with Christmas, for Christ-followers, but people make up how they choose to celebrate it. When I first read Berger and Luckmann’s landmark social science book, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, I had a hard time accepting that much of our reality is socially constructed. I am a huge proponent of free will. But as time went on, I realized the theory holds much truth. How we live life—largely what we believe and why we believe it—is passed on to us culturally. That’s right, we make stuff up! We make up our culture, values, customs, ways of life, language, and to a large extent, our thought patterns. For the most part, we accept what we grew up with. We live life through social constructs I contend that the social construction of reality is not a bad thing, and does not make the reality behind a celebration or practice any less true. Easter is not just a holy day, it is a holy season. Coinciding with spring in the northern hemisphere, (where most of our Easter traditions came from), it follows a 40-day period called Lent, which since ancient times has been set aside as a season of penance and reflection, where believers are encouraged to make sacrifices and engage in acts of goodness. In this way, Christians are prepared to remember the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who was both God and man in one being. Lent culminates in Holy Week, which starts with Palm Sunday (remembering Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem), then continues with Maundy Thursday (remembering the Passover supper Jesus had with his disciples and his washing of their feet), and Good Friday (remembering when Christ was executed), and finally celebrating Easter, when Christ rose from the dead. Lenten and Easter practices seem to be very ancient. In his “History of Lent” (2002), Fr. Saunders cited a letter to the Pope written in A.D. 203 commenting on the differences between how Easter was celebrated in the East and West: “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘day’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers.” Many Christian customs were either borrowed from other religions or simply made up. The use of incense, visual depictions (crosses, crucifixes, icons, painting, sculptures), church architecture and many other things were used to help people connect to God. As someone pointed out, the use of “bells” and “smells” helped illiterate congregants throughout history connect with a God who isn’t tangible. Like the rest of the church calendar, dates were set aside to remind Christ-followers of many of the important aspects of the New Testament, which chronicles the life of Jesus and the beginnings of the early church. Other “holy days,” which we have come to call “holidays,” include Advent and Christmas (leading up to and celebrating the birth of Christ), Epiphany (celebrating the incarnation of Christ and the visit by the Magi), and Pentecost (remembering the outpouring of God’s spirit on early believers shortly after Christ’s return to God the Father). A basic tenant of Christianity is that God is made up of three distinct persons, designated Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These three do not exist or operate in an authoritarian structure, but by relationship and communication. Unlike Christmas,...

What Does It Mean?

These few days are undoubtedly the most important in the Christian calendar; they are centerpieces of the faith. But there is no one-way to view the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. That said, I think it’s important to think about. I contend that how you view Jesus’ death and resurrection reflects on your view of God and how you related to the Divine. In his book, Across the Spectrum: Understanding issues in Evangelical Theology, Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy devote an entire chapter on “The Atonement Debate.” There they outline the three main perspectives: The Christus Victor View (Christ destroyed Satan and his works) The Penal Substitution View (Christ dies in our place) The Moral Government View (Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin) Here, in a nutshell, is an overview of these perspectives. Then I will make a case for something more simplistic that may work even better for you. According to Boyd and Eddy, the Christus Victor view was the most popular until the Middle Ages. It was based on the idea that, “Jesus’ death and resurrection defeated Satan and thus set humankind free from his oppressive rule” (Boyd & Eddy, p. 114). Later John Calvin and Martin Luther developed the Penal Substitution view, that Jesus took on the punishment that humankind deserved. One must understand, however, that Calvin was an attorney, so he saw everything in legal terms. For him, there was a debt to be paid, and Jesus paid it. The problem I have with this view is that it turns our relationship with God into a transaction. A transaction is that I put down money at the store and I get to take the milk home. However, everything about scripture tells me that God is interested in transformation,...

The Invitation of Grace...

The follow is a devotional from Monday, March 21, 2016 written by Richard Rohr, founder and director of Center for Action and Contemplation. His writings are always good, and some just have to be shared. “As I shared earlier this year, the Bible is “a text in travail.” Sometimes the biblical writers catch a glimpse of God’s true character–love, mercy, and justice–and sometimes they lose sight of it. Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann traces the evolution of human consciousness through three sections of Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah (the five books of the Pentateuch), the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature (including Job, the Psalms, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes). Just as children must begin with structure and rules, religion starts with setting boundaries, rituals, and rules about who is in and who is out. It’s all about protecting the status quo, our tribal and egoic identity. But eventually we have to develop the capacity for self-criticism, as the prophets did, which is the necessary second stage. If we do both of these stages well, we will normally be catapulted toward wisdom and holiness. Another way to look at this is a series of Order > Disorder > Reorder. Most conservatives get trapped in the first step and most liberals get stuck in the second. Healthy religion is all about getting you to the third, Reorder. There is no nonstop flight. You must learn the wisdom of both the first and second stages before moving on. Much of the chaos and instability of our time stems from many young and sophisticated people now beginning life in the second stage of Disorder and criticism, without first learning deeply from Order. It appears to be a disaster. The three stages must be in proper sequence for...

Mama Knows Best

“Some people come into your life for a lifetime and some come for a season; you have to know which is which. And you always gonna mess up when you mix up those seasonal people with lifetime expectations.” So says Tyler Perry’s mama character, Medea, in this clip from one of his stage plays. Staying in character for this entire 5-minute clip, mama Media gives some of the most sound advice on relationships you will hear...