Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Two Tags and My Own Invention: Rev 1.

I don't do tags, but I did like these two and since my friends tagged me, I do not want to alienate the few that I have. So today I catch up on two recent tags and decided to do my own as well. Rev 1: I modified my desert island albums.

From JMG: Share 5 weird things about myself:
1. Mayonnaise makes me cringe. I find it absolutely disgusting and repulsive.

2. I have converted from being a southern protestant, conservative Republican but still have no affinity for liberal, Democratic politics. I am a man without a party. I think I will vote non-incumbent. Still very much southern and still protestant by default.

3. I was in a rock band in high school and college but did not have long hair, drink alcohol, or do drugs. But after college did grow long hair.

4. I am 44 years old and I have never tried any kind of illegal or recreational drug (except alcohol)--not even one little toke and I still have no interest. But I don't care that others have. I also was a virgin when I got married (I like to joke that it was not necessarily my choice).

5. I have a very deep faith and conviction for Christian discipleship, but I don't typically enjoy reading non-fiction Christian works other than the Bible. I don't object to them, just not the stuff I enjoy reading.

From Phil: Book tag
One book that changed your life: This is very difficult. There are two that truly changed my thought process and my behavior. Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming and Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp.

One book that you have read more than once: Quite a few. But the one I could read over and over is the 5 book Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson. Deep human study and complex political intrigue all set in outer space by a writer with an incredible command of the English language. Doesn't get any better.

One book you want on a desert island: I have seen this one with the statement, "except the Bible." I would choose the Bible if I had to pick only one. But if except the Bible, I would cheat and take the 5 book Gap series above. If I could not cheat, I would use a technicality to take Lord of the Rings because it was originally intended to be one big book.

One book that made you laugh: A Nasty Bit of Rough by David Feherty. Not only made me laugh, but embarrassingly hard in public.

One book that made you cry: Night by Elie Wiesel. I wept bitterly, multiple times. This book ripped my soul apart and made me ask hard questions of God for which I still have no answers. I can cry just thinking about it.

One book you wish had been written: That's Why by the Holy Spirit. Or, I Was Wrong and I Am Sorry by W.

One book you wish had never been written: Night by Elie Wiesel. I wish it wouldn't have been written because it wouldn't have happened. But it did.

One book you are currently reading: See my blog, left side menu.

One book you have been meaning to read: Atlas Shrugged or Anthem by Ayn Rand. I keep hearing about them and what to check it out for myself.

My Own Album/CD tag
One album/CD that had profound impact on you: Yessongs by Yes. Blew me away. I had never heard anything like this in my life and it had great influence on me.

The 5 album/CD's you would want on a desert island: Yes Yessongs, Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall, Stravinsky Firebird Suite, Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti, The Beatles White Album (replaced Holst Planets)

Your ultimate feel good album/CD: Frampton Comes Alive

One song that makes you cry: "Awaken" by Yes from Going For the One. The beauty, majesty, spirituality, and imagery is amazing (~15 min song). The building to majestic crescendo at the end wells up tears of emotion that are not sad, just so much positive emotion it is hard to contain.

Your all time favorite song: "Awaken" or "Hey Jude."

An album/CD you wish had never been cut: Hot Streets by Chicago. This was the transition from their eclectic rock/jazz/pop style into Top 40 pop. If you want an amazing but sad contrast, listen to Chicago Transit Authority (1st album) and Hot Streets. CTA was hard rock-jazz-fusion, Hot Streets not. The catalyst for the transition was the death of their original guitar player Terry Kath (Jimi Hendrix praised him highly).

An album/CD you wish had been cut: My first one.

Last album/CD you bought: Joe Bonamassa You and Me. Joe's 6th CD debut was #1 on Billboard's Blues category. This kid is unbelievable. Joe is no one's clone, very original, but will remind you of Stevie Ray, Hendrix, Albert King, B.B. King and Jimmy Page.

Oops, I just ordered Bob Nyswonger's first solo album Deposition while writing this post. The Bears' bassist.

5 other Album/CD's your sure your friends haven't heard, but should: Extreme III Sides to Every Story, King's X Out of the Silent Planet, Chicago II, Joe Bonamassa Had To Cry Today, The Bears Car Caught Fire

Whoever wants to do the Album/CD tag, your it. Please leave a comment and link to your blog if you do the tag. Feel free to comment even if you don't do the tag.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

By What Method?

I borrow the title phrase from W. Edwards Deming. Jettybetty asked a great question in the discussion in my previous post "The Weapon of Truth". You will find the context of the post beneficial in understanding her question. She asked, "Tony, what positive things do you think, as Christians, we should do as Americans that feel this way right now?"

Great question! Put your money where your mouth is Mr. Arnold. Although this was not her sentiment, it is the way I challenged myself. Here are some thoughts:

1. Practice love and reconciliation in every area of our lives: marriage, work, church, discussions with others, interaction with people at malls, restaurants, anywhere.

What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Live Christ, preach Christ, and let Him change people. Then be willing to accept that some won't follow. Don't waste our energies trying to legislate morality and coerce conversion. Don't waste time and energy fighting the symptoms of problems, address the root cause.

Preach the Gospel at all times, but only use words when necessary. -- Saint Francis of Assisi

3. Be a servant.

Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something for them. -- great American psychiatrist and author Karl Menninger shortly before his death at age 97 when asked what he would recommend to a person about to suffer a nervous breakdown.

4. Remove patriotism from our Christianity. Put God first. Stop confusing and mixing patriotism and Christianity. We are Christians first, servants second, and Americans third. I love my country and support it, but we cannot do the following as Christians:

a) We cannot feel that God favors any nation over another, especially the United States. Christianity and its good news are universal. Christ saved us ~1800 years before the United States came to be.

b) Do not blindly support our country in the areas that you think it is wrong. Toleration of or silence on wrong behaviors and methods is being a traitor to truth and therefore a detriment to the good of others. I can support my country while disagreeing with parts of it. Our founding fathers might even say it is my duty to dissent when my morality is challenged. They did.

5. Become less and less materialistic. This is a process. Eliminate one thing, get used to living without it, and then tackle another.

6. Challenge war and violence as a problem solving method. I am tempted to say an offensive war or action, but will stick with the former. When you are involved in a discussion about a war, or the Middle East situation, or any other similar conflict, throw out the question, "so how can either side justify killing children?"

When rationalization and dancing around the question begin, continue to ask and stress it. It may not lead to an answer, but you will see the tone of the discussion shift and you will watch people slow down and start thinking. I have tried this multiple times and it is amazing the effect. No one is comfortable saying that a few children killed is a price worth paying. If we can just get ourselves to starting thinking and instead of reacting (proactive v. reactive). Christianity is a proactive lifestyle.

7. Don't confuse willingness to sacrifice your own life with the willingness to sacrifice the lives of others.

8. Spend time in prayer everyday including a large portion of silence and listening as part of the prayer routine. This will allow the Holy Spirit to direct us in the above. This is probably the most important and effective suggestion in this list.

How do you dear readers feel about the question and the list? What are your suggestions for illuminating truth and perpetrating a better way?

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Weapon of Truth

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. -- Prov. 4:18-19

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. -- Jesus Christ, John 3:20-21

In response to my It Better End Soon post, Jettybetty brought to my attention a recent article in Newsweek. In the article, the author makes this statement concerning U.S. action against the Iranian nuclear threat:

All options have dangers and drawbacks. But inaction might bring the harshest verdict of history: they knew much, and they did nothing.

What if our actions against threats were, instead of military or covert, truth and light? What if we used our intelligence community and the information it generates for world education rather than military or covert purposes? What if we disseminated the information openly with no spin and no bias, willing to show our own faults inthe process? An Amber Alert for peace.

Where then would the evil and violent hide? How then would they couch their motives and intentions in validity? Where then would the world majority sentiment lie if their purposes and actions were seen clearly and left unbiased by the retalitory actions of others?

Jesus, Gandhi, and MLK used this weapon and in the process robbed their enemies of credibility. Those against them had to stand in the light and show themselves completely for what they were because the victims stood firm in truth. These men stood firm in public, saying, "if you attack us, you will do so in the light where all can see and judge for themselves what is right and what is wrong."

Such actions stripped those in the wrong of their power leaving no room for false validity generated by retaliation. Those that choose to side with the wrong could not hide in clouded arguments and accustions. Even silence on the issue was revealed as weakness and complicity.

Truth and light are the most powerful weapon because they are God's weapon.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. ... And the God of peace will be with you. -- Paul, Phillipians 4:8, 9

If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -- Jesus Christ, John 8:31-32

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It Better End Soon

(Robert Lamm/Walter Parazaider/Terry Kath)

[1st movement]
Can't stand it no more
The people dying
Crying for help for so many years
But nobody hears
Better end soon my friend
It better end soon my friend

Can't take it no more
The people hating
Hurting their brothers
They don't understand
They can't understand
Better end soon my friend
It better end soon

[2nd Movement - Flute Solo]
[3rd Movement - Guitar Solo]

[4th Movement - Preach (studio album)]
Hey, everybody, won't you just look around
Can't anybody see?
Just what's going down
Can't you take the time?
Just to feel, just to feel what is real
If you do, then you'll see that we got a raw deal
They're killing everybody
I wish it weren't true

They say we got to make war or the economy will fall
But if we don't stop, we won't be around no more
They're ruining this world, for you and me
The big heads of state
Won't let us be free
They made the rules once, but it didn't work out
Now we must try again, before they kill us off

No more dying! No more killing
No more dying! No more fighting
We don't want to die, no, we don't want to die
Please let's change it all; Please let's make it all
Good for the present, and better for the future
Let's just love one another, let's show peace for each other

We can make it happen; Let's just make it happen
We can change this world, please let's change this world
Please let's make it happen for our children, for our womenChange the world
Please make it happen
Come on! Come on! Please, come on!
It's up to me. It's up to you.
So let's do it now, yeah, do it now
[end of Preach]

Can't stand it no more
The people cheating; burning each other
They know it ain't right. How can it be right?
Better end soon my friend
It better end soon my friend

[4th Movement - Preach (live album)]
Oh yeah
You know what we've been saying
You know what we've been praying
You know what's going down

Oh come on
Let's spread it around
We got to stop it
We got to make it right - got to
We got to end all fighting - gotta
We got to end it tonight

It can't be done just because I'm gonna sing a song
Everybody must have love and peace just flow

It's got to grow from a little spark
It's got to burn higher
But it must start
If we want to have the whole world right
We got to put up a fight
But a peaceful fight
Can't go around killing - and contradicting ourselves
We gotta do it right - within the system

Please understand what I say
Everybody understand what I say
End this war as fast as we can
End this war, end this war, end all wars
Forever more, c'mon, c'mon, please, please
We gotta do it so that the world will live
You know all you gotta do is give - of yourself
Give of your heart - give of your soul
Please let's go! Do it, do it, do it

It Better End Soon from Chicago II, Jan. 1970
Preach -- Live Album from Chicago at Carnegie Hall, April 1971

We just never listen do we? Mankind has been trying violence and killing as a problem solving method since Cain killed Able and our problems are still with us. When will we realize this method just doesn't work. Don't believe me, look at the empirical evidence.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Building Authority: The Greatest Leader Ever

Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must first be the servant...If you choose to lead, you must serve -- Jesus Christ

I am piecing my way through a book given to me by the CEO of the company for which I work. He annually gives his executive staff a book to read, and he was kind enough to give me a copy of this year's book because he knew I would be interested in the subject.

The book is The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principles: How To Become A Servant Leader by James C. Hunter, copyright 2004, published by Crown Business, ISBN:I-4000-5334-X. Below are some powerful excerpts from Chapter 3: On Building Authority.

I have studied mystics and sages from the past and present in my search to uncover the true essence of leadership. Then one day it dawned on me that I should look at what Jesus had to say about leadership. If leadership is about influence, which we know it is, I challenge anyone to name a human being in the history of the world who has had more influence than this one man. Name one who even comes close.

H.G. Wells...atheist, was a harsh critic of Christianity, yet once remarked, "I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as an historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."

Napoleon Bonaparte put it this way: "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love, and at this hour, millions would die for him."

In the book of Matthew...Jesus makes His difinitive statement about leadership [see top of post]. If you cannot grasp the difference between power and authority, you will never understand the point Jesus was trying to make. He did not possess traditional power. Jesus was talking about leading with authority. Legitimate leadership, influence, is built upon serving, sacrificing, and seeking the greatest good of those being led. Influence must be earned.

In my previous work, I detail several examples of great world leaders who had no power but operated from a position of authority and accomplished things that changed the world. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa. Influence, legitimate leadership, is built upon service and sacrifice.

It is simply the "Law of the Harvest"--that is, you reap what you sow. You sow service and sacrifice; you extend yourselves for others and seek their greatest good; you will build influence with them.

...when I mention these great leaders from the past, I sometimes get outburts like, "What am I supposed to do, die for my people like Jesus? Go on a hunger fast like Gandhi? Find some lepers in our cafeteria to help like Mother Teresa? I'm just a supervisor at Sears, for goodness' sake. Give me a break!"

My response..."I use dramtic examples from history to get people's attention. The good news is that anytime we extend ourselves, sacrifice, and serve others, we build authority and thereby influence.

Martin Luther King Jr. recognized this truth: "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve...You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

When we are dedicated to identifying and meeting the legitimate needs of others, we will often be put into a position of having to make sacrifices. We may have to sacrifice our ego, our lust for power, our pride, and other self-interests for the greater good. We may have to sacrifice our need to be liked, our bad habits of avoiding conflict, our desire to have all of the answers, to look good, to always be right. ... When we extend ourselves for others, we will be rejected, underappreciated, and even taken advantage of at times. Indeed, we will have to sacrifice and subordinate anything that gets in the way of doing the right thing with and for people.

Anne Frank...said, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."