I’ve struggled with something for the last month or two. Actually, it is something I’ve struggled with every Christmas Season for the past few years: Inevitably, sometime during Christmas I will hear or read some complaint about how Xmas is not the same as CHRISTmas and that Xmas is an attempt at secularizing Christmas.

I really don’t care about this argument one way or the other…really. What does bother me is that THIS is what we argue about. THIS is what we are up in arms over and are willing to protest about. Folks, 7.6 million children under the age of five died in 2010 and most of those were preventable. Today at least one woman has died in childbirth and has left several other children with no one, NO ONE, to care for them. Somewhere in America there are children being used for their labor, including sexual labor. …and THIS is one of the most talked about issues at Christmas?

I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a downer to some of you during the holiday, but in my opinion, if we REALLY want to put Christ back into CHRISTmas, maybe we should focus on some radical things.

I have so much more to say, but I just don’t think they are wise to say yet, so i’ll hold off on that for a while. For now, one thing I’ve been trying to get more involved with at Christmas is Advent Conspiracy (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/). Something else i suggest is World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

Maybe, more on this later.


Start Here!: It’s All About Feeling Valued

  • At their core, these lessons are about making sure your people feel valued.
  • More specifically, it is ensuring they are valued how and for the things they want to be valued for, which is mostly who they are.
  • There are lots of ways to do this, but you MUST start with getting to know your people–who they are, what there strengths are and what their values are. This takes less time than you think and CAN be part of efficient management.
  • For example, an employee may not be bothered by not getting enough hours or even benefits because of “budget crunching”, but may feel immensely devalued by not having their work needs met–including a space of their own. Think of it as a justice issue: An employee might muse “We are all affected by budget crunches and I am okay with not getting a raise this quarter, but I have not have adequate work space or a space of my own while others in the line have their needs met before I do.” This is why knowing your employees is key to good leadership. Again, GOOD LEADERS KNOW THEIR PEOPLE.

Platinum’s the Old Gold!: Treat People How They Want to be Treated

  • Most of us have heard of the golden rule,”Do unto others as you would have them do  unto you,” but human resources and personnel types also like to talk about the “Platinum Rule”. The Platinum Rule is, roughly, treat others as they want to be treated or do unto others as they would have you do unto them. I am of the opinion that we can’t improve on God’s wisdom, so I see the platinum rule as a form of the Golden Rule–an interpretation. There are a lot of things that I like that others may not, but in general I think most people are like me in that they want to be treated how they want to be treated, rather than how you want to treat  or think they should be treated. (Huh?)We do unto others as we would have them do  unto us when we treat them how they want to be treated, or…
  • Treat others the way they want to be treated, just like you would want them to treat you the way you want to be treated–whew!

Lead Like a King: Model Servant Leadership

Tell the Truth: Learn to Tell People Difficult News (AKA, NEVER Lie to Your People, and You’d Be Surprised by What Constitutes a Lie!)

Eat What Your Sheep Eat: Build a Good Sense of Solidarity

The delusions from lack of sleep this week have set in: I cannot sleep and a recurring creative seed is now bouncing around my head again and won’t go away. I need to do a better job of paying attention–giving attention–to these things in my regular day. They force their way into my sleepy time just like this latest one has (actually it has been brewing for a few years, so maybe its time has come). So, now I’m back online. I need an astrophysicist, an illustrator (someone patient), and someone skilled in taking ideas (stories, specifically) and turning them into…I dunno what…two or more dimensional “reality” (and by reality I mean some place other than the confines of my head). Later, I’ll need a composer and possibly a theological editor. I’ll do the writing…

It is days like today–when the grey canvass of a cloudy day makes even the ugliest desert house a castle and bolts of cerulean blue sky pierce the cloud cover–that uncover the strings  of longing in my soul. Each string is plucked gently by the memories of time spent along the California coastline. Monterey, Carmel and the charming Pacific Grove. In particular I remember the Spring week I spent in Pacific Grove by myself, recuperating from…from things my soul alone will retain.

Traveling alone is not an unusual occurrence for me, though it disturbs some in my acquaintance who think it unwise or unusual for a woman to travel without a companion or more. My tales of traveling the rugged terrain of developing countries would do little to ease their fears so it is not something I speak of at great length unless asked. In any case, I have spoken little of my trip to PG and I think that is in part because I have spent a year processing it, reliving it in my mind.

Today in particular I remember the slight malodor of the marina, cold salt air and the crunch of deconstructed granite under my shoes. Canvassing wet granite monoliths much in the same way tiny crabs navigate their rocky burrows, I rounded a boulder and was surprised by the half-flutter of a young gull. He was equally surprised but once it was determined that I was no enemy he settled back into his stony nesting spot.

He was a ridiculous thing. Frankly, I think all gulls are ridiculous but he was especially so because the awkward trimmings of youth had not left him. We remained for a moment mirroring each others musings of the other while the rain clouds started to surround us. We both lowered our heads slightly in response to the first drops, then I went on my way. Someplace in that moment in time I managed to take a snapshot of him. I don’t shoot as much as I have in the past, but I am grateful that I’ve retained the habit of keeping the camera at the ready when I am shooting. The image of that goofy bird makes me smile and quenches, at least in some small way, the hunger for the coast that a day like today brings.

That longing, though sometimes almost painful, is good for the soul. It reminds me of the dreams of a small craftsman bungalow near PG and a little plot of land to grow things on and a place to create. Someday I hope to see this dream become reality, but for now the thoughts of it provide something to hope and work for.

Today, looking out on on rain and beauty, I thank God for imagination and the ability to dream.

I certainly do not always agree with Reverend Jim Wallis’ perspectives, but I do agree with this statement

“…if I want the support of the religious right, I had better stay unborn as long as possible because once I am born, I am off the radar screen. No health care. No childcare. No nothing,”

I am and will be eternally grateful for the church community I am part of now–and I’d say on the whole we are fairly “conservative”–but I have come from communities in which  Abortion seemed to be the only issue anyone really cared about. Why is this the central issue of Western Christians, why is this the “sin” for which America will be judged, when countless millions struggle to STAY alive.

In my opinion, what our nation WILL be judged for is our preferential ignorance about suffering in the world, poor stewardship, and our mistreatment of orphans, widows, the poor and the foreigner. Doubtless, the unborn are part  of this but the amount of effort the Church in America puts into this issue is unwarranted in comparison to the sum of what we are called to do and be. Further, the attention (the time wasted on arguing and learning how to argue with “pro-choicers” and “abortionists”) does little to solve the root problem of why women have abortions. Like Wallis, I’d love for Democrats to acknowledge the tragedy of abortion and for the Republicans to “…actually help reduce the abortion rate.” Until the Church can get over the politics of the issue and start to work for real results–the kinds of things that transform lives–we will remain a One Trick Pony.

Wallis, Rev. Jim.  2007. Interview on CBS on 10/18/07 : Evangelicals: the new swing voters.

2008. Where Jim Wallis stands. Christianity Today: Vol 52, No. 5.


For my first post: Useless information.

I have a cat. It’s not actually my property(I bet the reference to a cat as “property” upsets some people) but it comes in my house. I don’t feed it, it does get water on hot days and I do have a little brush and toys for it. We entertain each other. If it gets sick or needs anything catly it presumably gets taken care of by its family. When it wants love, scratching and toy mouse time it comes to me. It’s all the best of cat ownership with no responsibility–how awesome is that.

Additionally, I have taken the liberty of stripping the cat of its sex. No, I did not have it neutered (it was altered before I started living here) but I have deemed it a male cat and named it Padraic. It is actually a female cat with a girlish name, a fact I learned well after we had become acquainted, but I will continue to refer to him as a male cat with a cool name. So, there….