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Word of God Speak November 30, 2005

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Word of God Speak series in its entirety right here.

Getting Over Myself: The Spectre of Perpetual Narcissism November 29, 2005

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2500 blogs report people trying to get over themselves. There are 21 people on blogs who claim that they have indeed accomplished the task of getting over themselves.

Now, let’s think about this. Can someone who has actually gotten over themselves blog about it? There seems to be a little hypocrisy here. I mean, if you have gotten over yourself, why post it for the entire world to see? If you need to let the world know you have gotten over yourself, then you have haven’t really gotten over yourself.

Furthermore, who is going to read a blog post with the title, “How I got over myself?” The kind of people who need that kind of information are the most unlikely to read it.

I think people have been reading Flashbang. In fact, I think they are reading Flashbang wishing they had written it.

Can people really get over themselves? Is there any there there? Isn’t getting over yourself a process or a discipline? Isn’t it laced inside of every single decision you make?

Is there any evidence that anyone has ever gotten over himself? Let’s factor out Jesus and look for an example. Peter couldn’t get over his racism. Paul couldn’t get over his pride. Do you think “the adulterous woman” got over her issues?

I think of someone like Ghandi as someone who has approached getting over himself. And still, he labored and struggled with himself.

It’s gratuitous to mention that I have not gotten over myself. I don’t know myself well enough to get over myself. And if I did have such a great sense of self-awareness, I doubt I’d have the power to accomplish self-transcendance. And all that is messed up anyway. Viktor Frankl would say that the road to self-awareness passes through self-transcendance. The amount of humility required to self-transcend is enormous.

And let’s round this post out with humility. Do you know it when you see it? Do you know where it comes from or how to produce it? Please, don’t try to answer these questions – you’ll be exposed. Do you know how to seek it?

Humility is the key to pursue the discipline of getting over yourself. Trying to get over yourself is like trying to get happy. The pursuit of happiness only chases happiness away and trying to get over yourself only causes one to focus on himself. Humility spooks the spectre of perpetual narcissism into remission.

Hierarchy November 28, 2005

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When we are talking about your problem and not mine, there is a hierarchy.” – Bill Doherty

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

One of the assumptions of postmodernism is that hierarchies are bad. Hierarchies have to do with power – who has it and who doesn’t. The people with more power use it to their advantage over people with less power. People have differing levels of power. In a social context that means hierarchy.

As a therapist, there is always a power dynamic going on between me and my clients. In church there is a power dynamic between church staff/leadership and church membership.

Now, in the helping professions, theological professions, and educational professions, how can there be no hierarchy? If I am there to help, then I must have some power, or at least a perceived power. The power I appear to have is the reason the person comes to me. Is that not true also in education and church?

I tend to think that the postmoderns have something when they say hierarchies are not good, but at the same time, what can you do about them? People seem to form them naturally.

Ah, but then look at the “power tactics” of Jesus. He seemed to use his power for people who had so little. No, he released power to these people. He made some people untouchable – the most powerful person around. Take the “adulterous woman” for example. She walked away with power. The “woman at the well” is good one as well. She had the power to tell a story. She must have had clout since so mnay people listened to her. Think Lazarus, Peter, and on and on. Jesus was all about investing power by giving it away. He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sure smacks of relinquishing power to him.

At the same time he seemed to use his power to crush existing power structures. He turned things upsidedown. He used his power not only to give, but also to take. Jesus never flinched when the Pharisees were asserting their power everywhere. Jesus matched them word for word and exposed their hypocrisy. He took their power from them. It really ticked them off, so they killed him.

So, I think Jesus is an excellent model of what to do with power. Find people without much power and release your power to them. Find those who have accumulated power and lord it over people and take it from them.

Think economy. Think positions. Think social status. Think race/sex/religion/age/appearance etc.

Holiday Fun November 27, 2005

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I spent Thanksgiving evening and the next day at a water park. At the same time, outside it looked like this picture. I was at America’s largest indoor water park. Leave it to Minnesotans to defy nature and not only build an indoor water park, but a ridiculously huge one. You might think, “hey, someone is going to build a bigger one and you can’t claim to be the biggest anymore.” And right you would be. The Waterpark of America is already under construction – in Minnesota.

Something else happened over the holiday – I realize that my fat found me again. I guess it is time to come clean. My training fell off the table after Katrina – and yes I blame her for everything. So, this is a heads up that another round of 40 Days of Fat is about to be unveiled. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving in Darfur November 24, 2005

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So, how did it go? Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; family, fun, vacation; rape, murder, genocide. What a minute! What is this, one of those one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others? Yes Ė on steroids.

Now that you are mopping up Thanksgiving with turkey sandwiches and dressing reheats, you have the chance to ponder on some other peopleís experiences this weekend. I know the timing this article might smack of a guilt inducing tactic right on the heels of our grateful gluttony, but I want you to separate our American privilege which is Thanksgiving and what I want to address today. In other words, read without guilt so your compassion can emerge.

I have Darfur on the brain right now. Darfur? No, itís not the name of the latest supermodel and it is not a disease Iíve contracted. Rather, it is the western region of the nation of Sudan in Africa. Itís the size of Texas. This is the place that experiences rape, murder, and genocide. It is happening right now – today. Warring factions, weak government, scarce resources, religious zealots, massive corruption, and abject poverty within a power vacuum creates a situation in which the value of life diminishes lower than that of a commodity. At best life is a thing, an object, or a property in Darfur. But mostly itís just a problem. People are disposable in Darfur.

Women who gather sticks for fire wood travel in packs so that they wonít all get raped. Children starve as their desperate need for food is rarely ever met. Men feel powerless as there are no jobs and they are constantly recruited to fight nefarious battles they do not believe in or care about. Everyone is at extreme risk for disease. A half million people are dead in the genocide. Another 2 million have been chased out of their homes and now live in refugee camps, which are by no means a refuge from any danger.

There is little to be thankful for in Darfur. If there is a Hell on earth, it is Darfur.

While we Americans are concerned about gaining that holiday weight, refugees in Darfur hope that warlords wonít chase away the relief workers or loot food aid as it trickles into their camp. Again, remove the temptation to feel guilty and just notice the contrast. We are grateful and we should be. Over the course of American history, millions of men and women, most of whom weíll never know of, have made enormous, sometimes ultimate, sacrifices for the generations to come Ė for us. We live in a country of plenty and abundance. We have justice and freedom. In America, there is so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a good time to express that gratitude without shame.

At the same time, gratitude is only one side of the coin of good character in the presence of great wealth. The other side of the good character coin is generosity.

While we are appropriately expressing our appreciation for what we have, letís consider those that have nothing. Not only do those who live (or should I say ďexistĒ) in Darfur have no possessions, they have no security, justice, peace, hope, or liberty. Letís show our character by being not only grateful, but generous as well.

How? Iím glad you asked, my friend. This will get you started. First, check out one of these websites and learn about the problem: http://www.savedarfur.org or http://www.worldvision.org. Second, of the many ways these organizations offer to help, pick one and do it. Third, ask your senator to fill you in on what the United States government is doing. Then let him or her know how much it matters to you. If you get this far and need to know what to do next, e-mail me and weíll figure something out.

Those that came before us gave us something to be thankful for. Letís give Darfur something to be thankful for. Find a way to give.

Sellout? November 18, 2005

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“OK, what’s with all the ads and crap?” you might be thinking to yourself.

I’ll make this short. I have applied to the University of Minnesota graduate school for Family Science. If I am accepted, I will be broke for 4 years while I work toward a doctorate. I will need every single cent available to me in order to survive.

So, when you see an ad on any of my blogs (here is my Christian Parenting blog), think of a click on that ad as a small donation to the “Get Fajita Through College Fund.”

So far I have amassed enough revenue for 1 half of 1 tenth of 1 credit hour. So, I am well on my way.

I am also working on another blog devoted only to my series from this blog. Right now, if you are crazy enough to want to read my past series, it would be kind of hard to follow the path through the archives. This blog will consolidate all posts from one series into a single (and very long) post. So each series will be one long post. I have just begun work on it, but I will finish it before year’s end.

This is my last post here until after Thanks giving.

Christian parenting will have a post Monday while Successful Stepfamilies will have a post Monday and Wednesday.

Dirty Christmas – World Vision November 17, 2005

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OK, this might be an idea for idiots – which means that there are about 6 of you readers who will love this idea.

Dirty Christmas, if you don’t know, goes like this:

1. Everyone brings an anonymous wrapped gift (good gift or lame gift).
2. Put wrapped gifts in the center of the room.
3. Everyone draws a number.
4. Number 1 picks a gift and unwraps it (smiles or groans)
5. Number 2 has an option: pick an unwraped gift or steal #1’s gift.
6. This goes on until everyone has one.
7. #1 has the option to steal anyone’s gift.
8. After a gift has been stolen 3 times, it is frozen and cannot be stolen again.

OK, now think dirty Christmas with gifts from World Vision. Everyone buys a World Vision gift and puts a card in an envelope indicating the gift you bought. Do not put your name on it – anonymous is good. So, you can bust out with a huge gift to World Vision and no one knows it was you, but you can have a little fun with it.

OK, picture this event happening in your living room. Hear the voices. It might sound something like this:

“Hey man, don’t steal my goat!”
“Dude, hand over the fruit trees.”
“Yo, I want the chickens. Yes the whole brood.”
“Step away from the small business loan and no one gets hurt.”
“Hey hone, I’ve got my eye on that sewing machine that can help a girl stay out of sex trade, but I’ve already had my turn. Can you steal it with your turn?”

Can you see it? Can you hear it? Charity with an attitude! Yes, a little philanthropic Smack Down, baby.

If anyone does this, I would love to hear about it.

Unpack this one November 17, 2005

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The best way to confront chaos is with frenzy.

World Vision Party November 15, 2005

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Amazing as it might seem, my wife (a super genius) was inspired by the Crap For Christ. Yes! This is so cool.

OK, how many of you (if you are a woman), or your wives (if you are a married man) get invited to things like Pampered Chef, Longenborger, Partylite, and things like this? All of you? OK. My wife gets all these invites and just hates them. You don’t want to let your friend down, so you go. You spend money you don’t have for something you don’t need so your friend, the hostess, can qualify for a titanium apple slicer – a must have.

Are you sick and tired of buying crap that costs too much and doesn’t do anyone any good? Well have I got good news for you!

Check out this idea from my genius wife – A World Vision Party. Invite couples over for a World Vision party, a party in which they can make a difference. As the host or hostess, you share with the people at the party all of the varied opportunities they have to make a difference and the costs associated with them.

For example, sending a child to school for a year would cost $75. Not too costly and pretty good bang for the buck. $75 puts your kid in school for about a day and half. Or you could work them up a bit and offer them a brood of chickens (a regular egg factory) for only $125. At the end, hit ’em with something big, something crazy, something like this – they can literally buy the farm for only $2,180. Now, most people don’t just have a couple grand nestled away for a farm, but then again, it’s a whole farm (that’s two cows, two goats, two sheep, two pigs, and enough chickens to lay about two dozen eggs a day).

Bring ’em in for a party that matters forever. Or maybe do the Christmas party thing.

Yeah, do your white elephant gifts and sip your wassel. Have a time of it, but why not throw a special party, even a Christmas party for some people who really need it?

I am asking my family for a goat this Christmas. Seriously, that is what is going to be on my Christmas list. Yes, I want a PS3, but I am asking for a goat. I don’t need any more books (for now), CD’s, clothes, or food. Please no food. All I want for Christmas is a goat. Heck, I’ll take a couple goats.

Any daring soul out there willing to host a World Vision Party?

Crap For Christ November 15, 2005

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Just click here and you’ll see.