perception


I just finished reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. I highly recommend it. Gave me a real sense of who both she and her husband are as people, not political figures.

The following statement of hers resonated deeply with me: “Meeting Nelson Mandela gave me the perspective I needed…that real change happens slowly, not just over months and years but over decades and lifetimes.”

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I keep hearing on the news about how polarized and divided our country is and how bad it is that this is the current state of affairs. If you are distressed about this I encourage you to look at it from a broader perspective, i.e. –

1. Our country was so polarized over slavery in the 1800s that we actually divided into two nations and went to war with each other.

2. Our country was so polarized in the 1930s about participating in the war in Europe that Roosevelt delayed entering the war even though he knew it was the right thing to do. Perhaps if the United States had stepped in sooner, the war would have ended sooner and fewer people would have died.

3. We were also very polarized in the 1950s, ‘60s and 70s over civil rights and the Vietnam War. These divisions led to numerous acts of civil disobedience, demonstrations and riots in which countless individuals were injured and/or killed.

Our country survived all of these very trying times, and we will survive this one.

I am currently reading American Gospel by Jon Meacham. The following excerpt grabbed me, speaking to me very loudly. I am sharing it with you because I am hoping that it speaks to some of you as well. Here it is:

“What is essential–and what has long been part of religious intellectual traditions–is to draw not only on scripture but on reason and experience when contemplating the nature and problems of the world. In the seventeenth-century battle between the Catholic hierarchy and Galileo over whether the earth revolved around the sun or vice versa, it was Galileo–a Christian–who understood better than his persecutors how to reconcile apparent contradictions between faith and science. ‘If Scripture cannot err,’ he said, ‘certain of its interpreters and commentators can and do so in many ways.’ In other words, if reason leads humankind to discover a truth that seems to be incompatible with the Bible, then the interpretation of scripture should give way to the rational conclusion. In this Galileo was echoing Augustine, who wrote, ‘If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets scripture does not understand it correctly.’ … Augustine’s work enables thinking Christians to take advantage of scientific and social advances without surrendering the authority of revelation. Guided by these lights, believers have (however slowly) removed the biblical support for the ideas that the earth, not the sun, is the physical center of the universe, that women are property–and that slavery is divinely sanctioned. The lesson is that purely religious arguments may not be sufficient to get us to the right result. The faithful should see that God meant for them to use reason as well as revelation as they make their way through the world.”

Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization based in Minneapolis, posted an awesome review of my book When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, on their website. For those who are interested, here is the link to the review: https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/review/book-review-when-going-flow-isnt-enough

What’s more, they are now stocking that book in their online bookstore! PRAISE GOD!

As I continue to travel through life interacting with a variety of people I am continually reminded that integrity seems to be in short supply. What is integrity? Integrity is simply honesty. Does one’s talk match one’s walk? Does one say what one means, and mean what one says? Does one convey an accurate picture of one’s situation or does one hide it within a concoction of smoke and mirrors?

On March 14, 2015 I posted an article titled helping vs. enabling. A situation I encountered over the week-end once again brought to my mind the difference between helping and enabling. In that article I defined helping as doing something for someone that he or she is unable to do for themselves, and defined enabling as shielding someone from the consequences of his or her actions or choices.

Sometimes when we want to help someone the action that we take to help him or her is in actuality enabling them to continue a dysfunctional behavior or a dishonest lifestyle.

If you are not sure whether you are helping or enabling someone ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I doing something I really don’t want to do, i.e. saying yes when I want to say no?
2. Am I doing something for someone that he/she is capable of doing and should be doing for him or herself?
3. Am I meeting people’s needs without being asked?
4. Am I speaking for another person?
5. Am I solving people’s problems for them?
6. Am I suffering the consequences of someone else’s choices or actions?
7. Am I not asking for what I want, need and desire?
8. Am I consistently giving more than I receive in a particular relationship?
9. Am I shielding someone from the reality of his or her situation by contributing smoke and mirrors?

I sometimes read a post on Facebook or a LinkedIn group and think “How in the world can that person think that?” I then remember that each of us “… view reality through a lens comprised of our values and our beliefs about ourselves and our world. These values and beliefs have their roots in what we were taught and what we experienced in the family and culture we grew up in.” (When the Glass Ceiling is Stained)

What a wonderful world – LOUIS ARMSTRONG. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2VCwBzGdPM

I heard this song on the radio last night and it reminded me that we each choose to live in a wonderful world or a terrible world, depending on how we choose to look at it. Is your cup half full or half empty?