Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

telling stories

May 10, 2010

The good guys wear white hats and draw faster and shoot straighter.  They win all their fights and ride off in the sunset with the pretty girls.

And they’re not real; they’re just a badly told story, missing most of the details.

Ever notice the heroes in the Bible?  Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul – all great men of God – all just as human as you or me.

A bad story is idealized and moralistic.  A good story shows pride and desire and fear and the battle to overcome them or to deal with the consequences when they’ve prevailed.  The goal of a good story is relationship and the protagonist’s temptation is to rat out a friend to save himself.

And God is a great story teller!


January 30, 2010

Felecity Dale has another excellent post regarding the exponential church growth India is experiencing in simple churches.  If you have a minute to spare I highly recommend it.

with regrets

January 14, 2009
stolen from

stolen from

i’m kind of a 24/7 person.  i sleep maybe 5 or 6 hours a night, but they’re on a sliding schedule.  sometimes i’m up till dawn.  sometimes i catch a little nap in the evening and i’m up before midnight.  some nights i don’t sleep at all.   i’ve heard that it isn’t healthy to live like this, but i haven’t figured out another way.

so, since i was a teenager, i’ve spent lots of late nights and early mornings at coffee shops.

several years ago i had a friend named Bill who was the night shift cook at the rockwall waffle house.  Bill was single and kind of old and was a friendly sort of lonely.  he smoked a couple packs of marlboros a day and had a system that (he tried hard to convince me) helped him beat the odds and win more than he put in to the pick-3 lotto.  besides being a waffle house cook, bill was an occasional photographer and shot weddings and such.    and, the thing that helped cement our friendship, bill rode motorcycles.

i had a nice honda at the time and we’d go out riding in the morning after he got off work and before he went home to sleep.    then i’d come in a few nights later and he’d tell me all about his lotto system or we’d talk about motorcycles or cameras.

then Bill died.  there was some kind of suspicious circumstance about it.  he had a storage building where he worked on his bike and apparently they found him dead.  i heard about it about a week later.  if Bill had any family or friends, other than the folks he worked with, i hadn’t heard about them.  he might have mentioned a daughter once.

today would have been Bill’s birthday.  what makes me especially said is this.  i talked with him about all the churchy things i was doing and was always very open about my faith.  but i never actually shared that faith with him or invited him in.  he wasn’t anti-god, but i couldn’t tell that he had any relationship with god either.  i thought a lot about it when we hung out and was just waiting for the right time.

by the numbers

March 3, 2008

“you can only manage what you measure.”   it’s a ubiquitous concept in modern business literature.  it’s part of our culture’s facination with science: find something to measure, tweak the variables, record your results, maximize your bottom-line.  the concept is oh so apealling.  we apply the scientific method to our businesses, our goverment, even our families.  it feels so objective!  how can you be wrong if the numbers back your decision?

i have a nephew who’s autistic, and i might have a bit of asperger’s syndrome myself – at least it provides a convenient excuse for my lack of social skills.  last week i read a fascinating article in wired magazine which launched me into youtube’s videos about autism.  amanda baggs, featured in the wired piece, is severely autistic with the signature traits you’d expect.  she doesn’t speak, she engages in repetitive motions and sounds, she seems out of touch.   what she does do is type about 120 words a minute.  with a voice synthesizer, a video camera, and an agenda; she’s become a spokesperson for autistic people who’ve had little voice in the past.

i find the whole thing amazing and inspirational.  i have to say that i disagree sharply with some of amanda’s views, but even those places i find her perspective insightful.  i especially appreciated one of her videos titled, being an unperson (below)it’s almost nine minutes, but well worth the time if you can spare it.

amanda illustrates brilliantly the point where measure to manage breaks down.  as soon as any human metric is applied to assess the value of a person, the one applying it has left the realm of science and begun to play god.   such a judgement inevitably leads to deprecation of the person or group considered inferior.   first; “let’s keep them away from our families so they’re not a bad influence.”  then: “let’s keep them from reproducing so they’ll eventually die off.”  finally: “let’s kill them.  it’ll make the world a better place.

this was the science applied in hitler’s death camps, lennin and mao’s purges, the genocides in kosovo, rwanda and darfur.  it was the basis for the west’s eugenics movement that morphed  into the abortion and euthanasia lobbies.  they don’t measure up; let’s get rid of them.

jesus was asked to define a person’s bottom-line responsibilities.  i’m going to paraphrase, but i don’t believe i’m harming the meaning of his response:

value god more than anything else
value your neighbor equal to yourself

not because they’re like you.  not because of their knowledge, skills or abilities.  value them simply because they’re another human being sharing a ride on the same planet.

quoting amanda: “this is no line you can draw and correctly say that on this side lay the real people”