Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Simple Christmas Story

It's time again to let Linus do his thing...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Experiential Advent









Our church had it's own version of a Christmas event. Art, art installations, narration, video, images and music all came together for what was called The Voice. Inspired by Chris Seay's narrative of the same name, we asked the question, "what does this world look like with the light of God and without?" Really this is essentially why we light lights at Christmas. The Advent (meaning "Coming" or "Arrival") of the light of the world was finally realized. The waiting has ended.

We began the evening with groups of people entering a story room that felt a bit like being in a crowded cave. Following a short narrative on advent and the contrast of light and dark, each group was then invited into a world of darkness. The "darkness" portion of the evening was sobering with each artist creating pieces that spoke to the absence of light, void of goodness. The video, the images and the music all reminded us that there are many ugly aspects of this world. "Uncomfortable" was the most common comment for most people during this time. And that is the point. Darkness is still with us in so many parts of our world and we cannot insulate ourselves from it. One interesting dramatic piece was a room where people were invited 10 at a time where someone shared how amazing their life was now that they had all of the "stuff" that they wanted. While they shared this, they were also stuffing their face with chocolate cake. Darkness can also be found in consumption as much as overtly painful situations.

After time to take in the art pieces and the interactive wall where people shared their thoughts on darkness on a large canvas, people were invited to come on the stage where the curtain was drawn and a narration began. The narration took people on a journey of light and dark, concluding with a protracted time of silence and complete darkness that was obliterated with a match to light the candle that then changed everything. As the curtain opened again, the light from the candle now made its way to the artists who carried their flames to each of their pieces. Each canvas, picture, video and music was now infused with light and the result was palpable. Hope, joy, laughter, energy and beauty now infused each piece. "God with us" was not simple a drama to be watched but now immersed in light, it was to be felt. Several people said that they burst into tears while leaving through the curtain with such an overwhelming sense of joy and hope.

And the "Consumption" room was now replaced with the same actors who now were holding "Communion" elements. One woman said "when I went through the curtain, the first thing that I saw was the communion and I just wept and felt compelled to go and receive. It was an awesome experience."

To watch the art transform from dark disturbing images to pieces of beauty and hope was truly inspirational and it fully captured the essence of what this season is really about without the fluff and stuff. Thank you to all of the artists who made the evening possible.

HERE is our talented church photographer Amy Paulson's take on one of the pieces. The photos shown in this post are from Amy.

May you experience advent in a new light this season.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Vietnam Legacy




Obviously Vietnam is near to my heart as I have adopted two girls from Danang. It is sad to see that so many years after the war that our presence is still felt there in the toxic pesticides that we left behind. I want to believe that our country will do what is right and clean up the mess that we left. We have seen what Agent Orange has done both to our troops as well as the people of Vietnam.

I am glad that the Chicago Tribune is willing to tackle issues like these. HERE is the full story and pictures.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Global Orphan Project




Great conversation with Jason Hayes today. Jason oversees the publication called Threads. If you need good resources for young adults- Threads is the place.

He also told me about his involvement with an organization called The Global Orphan Project. I love the story of how it came about. I love the mission. Love the passion. If you are interested in orphan care, check it out HERE.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Story Litter and Twitter

Here's what happens when story + creativity + technology collides with digital "issues". Click HERE.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Branding and Storytelling from AdAge

From the Transmedia talk comes a perspective from AdAge about how to look at brands adn apply new storytelling techniques. The applications for storytelling are everywhere and it is only going to increasingly weave its way into every facet of our lives from entertainment to advertising to the church and beyond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Building Kindergartens in Vietnam

Jon Acuff used his powerful blog for good by raising money for 2 kindergartens in Vietnam. He was shocked after his posting that $30,000 came in. Love the power of technology for great projects like this one. Read about it here and here. Thanks to Ben Arment for putting me on to this.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Transmedia Storytelling

With so much opportunity for cross-media marketing, a professor at USC has coined the term "transmedia storytelling" meaning a story spanning multiple media in a coordinated way. The most recent example cited in the story is District 9 that had ads behind bus benches that read "bus benches for humans only."

Putting people into the story is where it's at.

Unbeatable- St. Louis

My friend Laurie Frey has created a musical about her experience with breast cancer. If you live in the St. Louis area, it looks like this weekend (today even) might be your last chance to see it. It's a great show, here's a taste...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wheaton College and the Underground Railroad

There was a great story in the Chicago Tribune this weekend about Wheaton College unearthing some of it's archives to discover that it was part of the Underground Railroad.

I read it to our family and we had a great discussion about the Underground Railroad and the courage that it took for people to do the right thing. It is still hard to believe that this was part of our country's past but an important story to tell so that our children and their children will always stand up for what is right.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Storytelling in Business

Stories connect whether it is business, personal relationships, entertainment or the church. Here is another business example with storytelling tips from Salesforce's Marc Benioff on the power of storytelling in a business.

Friday, October 30, 2009

StoryChicago is now hiStory...


Hats off to Ben Arment and everyone who collaborated on StoryChicago, an event designed to challenge and inspire all of us to do a better job of telling a better story. Job well done! Click HERE for some great pics from the event.

Story was broken up into two days. Day one had keynotes speakers sharing about...story. Day two had workshops on...story.

Here are some notable quotes from the event.

"The church is a rescue community. And everyone wants to reach people until you start reaching people." Ed Young

"We need to listen to people's stories and then customize a spiritual formation plan for them." Dave Gibbons

"When we are transparent about our weakness, there is a release of the power of the Holy Spirit...we need to develop a theology of suffering." Dave Gibbons

"We need to tell the story of God so that the hearer will want to be a detective and desire more." Chris Seay

"We thrive when we are on mission but we wither when we sink into institutionalism." Chris Seay

"We have lost our sense of shalom (the way things are supposed to be)." Nancy Beach

"The Gospel needs to be rooted in comedy and tragedy and wrapped in transformation." Nancy Beach

"Movies are high budget parables." Stacy Spencer

"A story is a character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." Donald Miller

"We have a relationship with the Bible that is strange. It is a collection of stories that we moralize. What if 5 minutes into a story we were telling on fishing someone asked 'what's in this story for me?' Or 'what does the fish represent?' People would hate us." Donald Miller

A story cannot be meaningful without conflict. But the average American sees 3000 ads a day telling us the opposite...and the church does the same thing. The reality is there was conflict in paradise. Before the fall, Adam was lonely. And God knew it and he still assigned him to name all of the animals. And it's not like Adam met her at a bar and just can't go out with her...she didn't exist!" Donald Miller

"The way we consume stories isn't books or movies, it's each other. You and I are setting the moral compass for each other. We are the story." Donald Miller

And that was just day one! There were many great speakers and interactions at the workshops on day two. Overall, this was a great first step in helping the church understand how to communicate and connect God's story and our. I am looking forward to how Story 2010 will . We need events like these to remind us that it is stories that will continue to shape us, move us and transform us all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Haiti and the ApParent Project

Our church is developing a strong relationship with a fledgling non-profit in Haiti called the ApParent Project. They work with orphans and many living in extreme poverty. By helping the poor, they are preventing more orphans.

This video gives you a window into the ministry and some of the startling statistics of the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere.

The ApParent Project from Corrigan Clay on Vimeo.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love... Create

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love talks about how creative people do not have to be doomed to suffer in order to be creative. She talks about how the renaissance did serious damage to creativity and has been killing off creative people in the last 500 years. She says that the shift away from the creative process being part of the divine to the human is too much responsibility for any one person to handle. While not a theologian, or probably a christian, she brings up creativity as something that is divinely given to us and is to be stewarded well as a gift.

It is a great thought. The renaissance did much damage to the creative spirit in and outside of the church. In the church, many creatives have been burned at the stake literally and figuratively because of the shift. Mystery gave way to reason and the right brain became dangerous. It is fun to see this moving the other way in the church but there is still a long way to go. Something repressed for 500 years needs to be nurtured back to health.

Here is the talk Elizabeth gave at TED earlier this year.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is the World Better off Without Religion?

That is the question posed on US News opinion blog. They are responding to a book by an atheist who seems to think that we do need religion after all. The author of the opinion blog closes with questions about religious wars and maybe we would be better off.

It seems like that is the new default answer for critics in the west. War, terrorism, other "isms", all stem from religion. Therefore, why not do away with them and then there would be world peace. Of course there is little discourse on the fact that the major religions actually do preach peace. Take religion out of the world and maybe what you are left with is simply Darwinian survival of the fittest. Why not? There really is moral reason to hold back. Just a thought.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

aMAZEing

Corn maze art is the latest to use high-tech designing to give an outlet for enthusiasm. This man is either brilliant or has too much time on his hands...or both.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News + Humor + Electronica = Fun

If you haven't ever checked out auto-tune the news, you need to watch it just for the sheer creativity. Pretty amazing how comedy and technology continue to progress.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Article for Shaohannah's Hope


Stacey and I wrote an article about our adoption of Rowan for the Shaohannah's Hope foundation newsletter. They finally posted it online, so HERE is the link to the article. The foundation helped us with the last part of the finances that we needed to complete her adoption. It is a great organization and I would highly recommend supporting them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

U2 360


I think many of you know how I feel about the band U2. I was a teenager in the 80's when they hit the scene with a vengeance. MTV was new and I recall watching a video from some Irish band playing at RedRocks. Steam coming out of the lead singer's mouth, passion gushing from his heart as he belted out "SUNDAY, BLOODY, SUNDAY!" I had no idea of the political nature of the song and I didn't care...these guys were just cool and I was hooked.

Fast forward to a couple of Sundays ago when U2 kicked off the U.S. leg of their 360 tour at Soldier Field in Chicago. Not sure why but Stacey and I had never been to a U2 concert and a friend of ours said that he couldn't use his tickets. We went and I crossed another item off of my bucket list.

So we show up at the concert and I was struck by the diversity of ages in the crowd. The appeal of this band is definitely not waning and if anything, picking up steam. Usually churning out 2 or three hits per album, they stay very current by putting on a very tech savvy show with Bono's ability to personally connect with each person in the crowd.

The show was complete eye candy. The mega screen a unique novelty and they used it to it's full effect. The first couple of songs looked like we were watching an edited music video. It felt like they had 100 cameras stationed everywhere with each cut to a different camera completely synced to the beat of the music. Impressive to say the least. At one point the screen starts to stretch (don't ask me how) all the way to the ground. So you are then looking at a 50+ foot screen in the round.

Bono was as you would expect. Passionate, energetic, tender, funny, self-effacing... At one point he is running around the outer ring of the circular stage with shouts of "run Bono run!" coming from the crowd. The next moment he is singing a song while lying on his back. And there is a bridge that hangs over the head of the elite ticketholders that connects the inner stage with the outer circle. Bono leans over the side of the bridge and serenades the crowds below.

What I like most about the band though is their spiritual overtones in many of their songs mixed with a powerful compulsion to do justice. At one point during the show, the crowd of 68,000 was singing "Amazing Grace". There was a funny, spirited and moving address by Desmund Tutu and a song written for Myanmar’s jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, "Walk On". During this song many in the crowd and volunteers on stage wore masked of her face so no one would forget that she was the elected leader of Myanmar in, but currently in her 14th year under house arrest.

It is this social sensibility that has kept me a fan after all of these years. Creative, provocative, spiritual, socially aware with some pretty good rock music. U2 rocks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mosaic Bible is available today


I just received my copy of a new Bible of which I was a contributor called Mosaic. And I love how it turned out.

This Bible combines some elements that I have not seen in any other Bible.

v Beautiful artwork from the 3rd to 21st centuries from every continent across the globe.
v
Moving and thought-provoking writings, poems and prayers from the 1st to 21st centuries from every continent and branch of the Church around the world. This includes a meditation that I wrote for the season of Pentecost on the topic of creativity called "Old Things New."

v
Both artwork and writings follow the Church calendar throughout the year starting with Advent (Sunday, November 29, 2009).

v
And there is space provided for you to record your own thoughts and meditations.

It is available as of TODAY (September 22, 2009) at amazon and we are trying to bump up the amazon ranking by asking people to buy TODAY (at only $20!).

And NO, I do not make a dime from this project. I am simply letting you know about it because I think you will love it and that it will enhance your spiritual journey.

The back cover sleeve of the Bible reads "On our own, we are little more than bits of stone and glass... TOGETHER we are the body of Christ." This Bible taps us into the great body of writers throughout the history of our faith to challenge and encourage us.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Another Great Adoption T

Love the creativity that is happening today to find a place for the millions of little ones needing a home.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Week and thoughts

1. Rowan went to the dentist today and WOW do I wish I had dental insurance now. Universal Dental insurance NOW!

2. A bit surprised by all of the hoopla surrounding Obama's tv broadcast in schools. Especially since Reagan and Bush did it too. One guy on facebook compared this move to Hitler. Really?

3. Found out my old HS football team will play their first game on national television (ESPN) on Sunday at noon. Very cool except that they can't seem to beat Elder, even when they have a superior team.

4. Surprised how little support there is in Chicago for the Olympic bid. Tepid at best.

5. Am thinking that my dog Sugar needs to find a nice, loving home where there is not the chaos of a 3 and 6 year old.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Continuous Partial Attention

Add another term to our ever-growing list of issues associated with communication technology. Terms like "absent presence" began appearing when people started answering their cell phones while in the presence of a friend they were just talking with. What does the friend do while they are waiting? Absent presence.

Now a new term. (Disclaimer) I noticed this WSJ article when a link to it appeared on my facebook feed from a friend of mine. "Continous Partial Attention" is now used to describe people who are constantly checking email, texts, facebook and any other message constantly. This can create A.D.D.-like behavior in anyone plugged in to so many social networking sites. Some businesses are combatting this by having no-technology meetings.

The article describing this was actually about Generation Y's inability to read non-verbal cues. This is something that is going to affect all of us. Read about it HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where am I?

From St. Charles to Jackson Hole to St. Charles to Dallas to St. Charles to Springfield in 2 weeks. It's been a bit of a whirlwind the past 2 weeks.

Mancation in JH was great. Highlight- 12 fish. Not letting the big one get away. Hanging with the B boyz.

Leadership workshop in Dallas was also great. Highlight- talking about getting people engaged in the process. Hanging with the AC boyz.

Men's Retreat in Springfield. I leave in 45 minutes. Will let you know, but hoping for decent weather and one last boating extravaganza with LC boyz.

Spirit highlight of the week. Psalm 84. It rocks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GONE FISHIN'

I will be away from my blog this week somewhere in the Teton mountains in Jackson Hole. Till then...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Story of Sustainability

Interesting article by Reuters called The Story of Sustainability. It speaks to great storytelling and how our culture is losing human person to person contact and storytelling with it. Here's a taste...

According to Paige, the elements of a great story are imagination, believability and content...with the consolidation of the media and corporate forays into political and community affairs, our common story has been on auto-pilot like never before. All this is abetted by the technology that seems to be stripping away the very essence of person-to-person communication - and storytelling. When's the last time you heard a great story around a campfire? But then, again, this is another aspect of the status quo story many of us have accepted: So much to do, so little time.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Adopted/ing...and proud of it.

Love the website "adoption bug" (actually a commerce site) that sells products expressing the joy of adoption and foster care. Adoption...what a beautiful choice.

fyi- the caption on the shirt says "Am I showing? the answer is on my face, not my belly"

Saturday, August 01, 2009

X-treme Faith

Found this article in the NYTimes interesting. X-gamers coming to faith in Jesus after one of them has a near-death experience.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chick-Fil-A Coming To Chicago Region




Cannot begin to describe my joy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Storytelling Sells

In a recent blog from Fast Company magazine titled Brand Storytelling: Connecting With Your Audience, author Melinda Partin reminds us of what we already know...stories sell. She writes,
At its very core, marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey--appealing to our wants, needs and desires--while at the same time telling us about a product or service.
Stories connect. Connection is everything in the new world. If you connect, you score. This goes for business, relationships, religion etc. etc.

Tell your story well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who needs the Better Business Bureau?

Ever get bad service and call them to fix it, or call the BBB only to get nowhere? Well, here is one creative storytelling video that has told over 3 million people that...United Breaks Guitars!! Thanks Dean for posting this one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Haiti Orphan Trip



When I was 17 I was part of a mission's trip to Venezuela. It was the first time that I came face to face with third world poverty. My world (and worldview) would forever be altered. Stacey and I desire that all of our children experience a mission to make a difference in the lives the poor, the orphans, the least of these that Jesus speaks of. So when Raegan heard about a trip tow work with orphanages in Hait and said to us "Mom, dad, I feel that I have to do this," we knew in our hearts that she was right.

So last week Stacey and Raegan went with 7 others to the poorest nation in the west, Haiti, to work with orphans. Haiti was the first country to become independent by a successful slave uprising. But corrupt leadership has led to economic and social ruin. In the city of Port Au Prince, where the team ministered at several orphanages, every home is seperated by walls for security reasons. There is chaos in the streets and fear in the hearts of the citizens. And so many of the families cannot take care of the children they bring into the world because of extreme poverty. It is a desparate situation, but not hopeless.

There are those who feel called to drop their lives and move to this oppressed country and try to make a difference. The ministry that the team worked with was founded by just such a couple. Their names are Corrigan and Shelley Clay and they moved to Haiti a year ago and started a minstry called the ApParent Project. The ministry works with the poor of Haiti (specifically with orphans) and seeks to make their needs known through media and the arts.

I am so proud of Stacey and Raegan for thriving in the blazing heat and loving on these little ones. They are still processing the trip and how transformational it was. It reinforces to me that we MUST continue to be the voice for the orphans and do what we can to find them a loving home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I am alive...

Little summer break from the blog. It's been busy with vacations, internet being down, Stacey in Haiti, conferences...

Whew!

Nice to be back...more later..........

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Narrative Overload?

If you know me at all, you know that I love storytelling. I believe that our lives are a collection of colliding narratives and subnarratives. And living in a media culture with constantly evolving digital technologies, stories are thriving. But are we possibly suffering from narrative overload? Coming from the perspective of a movie writer of such classics as Raging Bull, Paul Schrader writes...

Storytelling began as ceremony and evolved into ritual. It was commercialized in the middle ages, became big business in the 19th century and an international industry in the 20th. Today it is the ubiquitous wallpaper of the postmodern era.


Find his full story HERE.

Schrader's article is more concerned with what media forms narrative will take in the future. And I agree with his conclusion that narrative will continue to go strong in the future but "mutated."

But the article did make me think about just how many media stories we are bombarded with from reality shows to video games to movies, television, hulu etc. What affect do all of these stories have on our connections with people, relationships, politics and even emotions and psyche. Are we becoming part of the wallpaper?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The CEO As Storyteller In Chief

Forbe's magazine says it all in this article on the value of storytelling in the marketplace. Here is a quick quote...

"Explanatory talk and statistics appeal to the intellect, but people aren't inspired by reason alone. Compelling stories convey loads of information while also appealing to our emotions, ensuring that we not only listen, but get engaged and inspired.

Storytelling can be extremely effective at simplifying complexities. It can help us reveal and assess the assumptions, values and beliefs behind new ideas and connect them to our world. So a company's mission is not just to sell more and better coffee; it is to share the passion that fills that cup."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Self Convergence Diagram

Scot McKnight put this up on his Jesus Creed blog today and I just had to pass it along. It's creative and funny with some insight to chew on. In my creative cookbook, that is the perfect recipe!!

In the Year 3000...

Funniest moment on Conan O'Brien last night...

In the year 3000 Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook will merge into a superwebsite called:

YouTwitFace

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Microsoft Raises the Game

I found these updates from the E3 conference from Brandon Grissom's blog. Wow. If this is where things are headed...again, wow!



Sunday, May 31, 2009

18 Years and Counting


Today Stacey and I celebrated 18 years of being married. We started the day pulling out the pics from our wedding. Who were those kids?

We do have a few more wrinkles since then, but also a deeper, more mature love.

Thank you Stace for saying "yes" to join together on this life journey. What a ride..............

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kids Want Bedtime Stories

No, not the movie. A new study shows that children want to HEAR bedtime stories from their parents over other forms of entertainment. The study also showed that 75% of children wished that there was more storytelling by their parents.

Here is the full article from Reuters.

Oh yeah, and you dads out there, kids prefer mom's stories because she makes them more enjoyable with sound effects etc. Let's brush up and man up at bedtime.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Movies, Games and Digital Storytelling

Haven't seen Terminator yet, but it is getting a lot of buzz for it's creativity. Fast Company put it on the cover and PC World describes a new game that continues the storytelling in a virtual world. Here is a quote from the article. Again, I love to think of groundbreaking storytelling technology and how that will impact us.

Halcyon Games on Tuesday announced the launch of Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series, a new animated drama whose first episode is now available for purchase and download from the iTunes Store.

Machinima is a form of digital storytelling that uses a pre-existing virtual world technology, such as a video game engine, in order to drive the story. It's been used in short form for YouTube videos using World of Warcraft characters, stories told using Valve's Half-Life II engine, and, perhaps most well-known, the "Red vs. Blue" series featuring Halo characters.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

Today was my 6 year old's (Ramsay) last day of ballet. And because it was her last day, she received...a trophy! She got it not for being the best or even the second or third best, no, she got it just for participating (not that there's anything wrong with that). And wow was she ever proud.

And also happening today, I went to the library for some study time and on my way out I saw a book on the new books shelf titled Not Everyone Gets a Tropy: How to Manage Generation Y. After laughing at the irony, I snagged it and am looking forward to reading it. And it seems like a great read for anyone trying to figure out the upcoming generation. Look at the title of chapter one:

Chapter one- Meet Generation Y: The Most High-Maintenance Workforce in the History of the World

I have always enjoyed studying generational similarities and hope to post some thoughts on the book when I'm finished.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Say it ain't so Manny!

I spent 11 years in Cleveland and loved to watch Manny Ramirez play. He was one of the least intelligent players intellectually, but some people just don't need to be smart to hit. Manny was born with a swing to die for.

Just last week I was in the airport watching ESPN recap some of the big moments of baseball. One of them was Manny's 500th home run. I thought to myself...
"Isn't it great that there is at least one guy that we can look at that just simply has a swing that produces amazing results. There is one guy who can play by the rules and still succeed."
That thought last week now feels like years ago as Manny descends into ordinary Joe status- just a guy who cheated to get ahead. But maybe it was a one-time occurrence. Maybe it never happened when he was with Boston. Maybe his excuse that a doctor prescribed it for him was true. Maybe...maybe not. How will we know? Once trust is broken, it always leaves behind a nagging little trail of doubt that clouds memories of old.

Say it ain't so Manny! Then again, does it matter?

**for a great Boston fan's reaction read THIS.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Movie Texting- Future of movies or cheap gimmick?

I just received an email update from my local theater. Here is what it said.

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY
A small local gym is threatened with extinction by a gleaming sports and fitness palace unless a group of social rejects can rise to victory in the ultimate dodge ball competition.

Come to a special showing of Dodgeball and use your phone to text comments on the screen during the movie. Dodgeball will be playing at the Charlestowne 18 Theatre on Saturday, April 18th at 10:30 p.m. Admission is $5.00!

So they bring back an old movie and add the twist of putting people's texts onto the screen while the movie is playing. Is this an experiment for possible future movie experiences or simply a gimmick to fill up seats with a cheaper, older movie?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Experiential Holy Week

Looking forward to being with the campus of SBU this week and creating some experiences to help them think about Holy Week on a sensory level. I hope you create some space to do the same.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Did You Know?

This clip has been sent to me multiple times. It's great stuff on how fast things change. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a viewing.



It reminds me a bit of a book called FASTER: the acceleration of just about everything by James Gleick. Also worth a look.

**facebookers, if you can't see anything, click HERE.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicago Goes Dark


Chicago is one of several cities around the globe participating in earth hour, one hour to raise awareness about our enormous energy consumption. So 8:30 rolled around and we lit the candles and spent a full hour with no noise, no lights and no electric.

This is the second year we have done it and it's kind of nice... and quiet. Last year we read a bit and talked. This year the little girls were in bed with candles for night lights, Stacey was exercising, Raegan talked on her cell phone with friends and I chilled by candle light.

They say that Chicago energy use during the hour dipped about 5% which amounts to 850,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. It's a drop in bucket, but still a good reminder of how much energy we use and how everyone's efforts could help us do some good for the God-given gift of our planet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Does Getting Angry Make You Angrier?

There was a time when the trend to deal with anger was to LET IT OUT! But like so many counseling fads, studies have shown that the opposite is true. It seems that anger begets anger. And when we act out on that anger, it actually feeds our anger which produces more... well, you get the idea. Here is an excerpt from the story.

Anger seems to be the emotion of the moment. The president says he's angry.
Members of Congress say they're angry. The public, we're told, is angry. But
should angry people act out how they feel? The popular idea is that venting your
anger helps get rid of it. There's even a woman in San Diego who makes money
helping people do that. But now, psychologists are saying that venting does more
harm than good.


So next time you get angry, don't punch the wall or go into the forest for a primal scream...try taking a deep breath and chillax.

peace.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oodles of Doodles

It was Psychology of Learning (or maybe Psyc of Memory, can't remember) circa 1989 and for the first time a professional (my prof) told our class that doodling is a good thing. Whew! After all of those years of chicken scratch art, I finally felt free to do what came natural during boring classes, lectures, sermons etc. ... DOODLE!

But now it is official. I heard on NPR last week that in a recent study in England, they have shown that doodling actually keeps the brain from daydreaming which is much more distracting than doodling. And the doodlers recalled 30% more information that was given than non-doodlers.

And I believe it. When I was living in Cleveland we eliminated lines on the back of the bulletin and actually put "notes and doodles" on the back. It encouraged "doodle listening" and a little creative expression as well.

So next time you find your mind wondering as you are listening to someone drone on and on... grab a pencil and paper and doodle away.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Madness + John 3:16 = Security Guard



It's not the 70's anymore. Remember the rainbow-haired guy with the John 3:16 signs at all of the major sporting events? Watch this video of a guy trying to do the same thing at a March Madness game. Maybe he should have put "sponsored by AT&T" at the bottom.


**if you can't see the video click HERE.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Mother of all Newtube Mixes



Here we have technology + creativity + a LOT of time on your hands...




**if you can't see it, click HERE.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering Patrick

I grew up knowing very little about St. Patrick except that I had better wear green on March 17th or risk being pinched. Then in the late 90's I read an excellent book by Thomas Cahill called How the Irish Saved Civilization and all of that changed.

Patrick grew up in Britain and as a teenager was kidnapped by the barbaric Irish and forced into slavery. Living in isolation as a slave for 6 years, he one day was guided by God's hand to trek 200 miles to his freedom.

The story could have ended there and we would consider it a miraculous tale. But Patrick decides that his time with the lowly Irish was not finished. God gave him a dream that the Irish people were begging for him to return. And with no schooling and the label of a slave on the run, he returned to Ireland to eventually become the most celebrated Irish legend.

And Cahill's book talks of how Patrick "saved" the Irish and it was the Irish who worked at keeping mankind's greatest writings and treasures in tact during the dark ages. And when the time came, they reintroduced them to a world that was was ripe for understanding, thus saving civilization as we know it today.

There is a prayer called St. Patrick's breastplate that is attributed to him, though probably written after he died. Either way it is a fitting tribute nonetheless to a man who overcame so many obstacles to bring the light of salvation to the people of Ireland and affect the rest of the world. We read it on Sunday and it is a good reminder of deep spiritual reality. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same the Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river, His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb, His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour, the service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word, the Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch,
His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within, the hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh, in every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles, against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles, against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft, against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft, protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Friday, March 13, 2009

U2360




Theeeeere baaaaaaack...


Leave it to U2 to change the world of concerts as we know it. You want some creative steroids? Click the pic.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Some Good News Please!

Bryan Williams of NBC was getting as tired as everyone of the negative pall cast over every newscast. So he asked if people could send him some good news. Was there any good news? They were overwhelmed with the response! It is good to know that despite what we hear, there is still a LOT of good going on out there.

Being optimistic can sometimes be difficult, but the alternative to hope isn't pretty. Thank you Bryan for finding some light in dark times.

Know Thy Limits...Boost Creativity

Wired in my opinion is one of the intelligent creative mags out there. The current issue has an article about how design limits can actually enhance the creative process. A designers worst words to hear are "do whatever you want" because it gives no parameters, no limits. Here is a quote...
...designers understand the power of limits. Constraint offers an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation.
In these times when all of us need to look at doing more with less, this is a great reminder.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!


The good doctor would have been 105 today. And even this evening my children picked out a Dr. Seuss book for bedtime. We love Seuss and to honor him (wish I had the time to make a weird rhyme here), here are a few of my Seussian favs (and a few not-so)...


Funniest Seuss line-
About Mr. Grinch- "The three words that best describe you are, and I quote: 'Stink. Stank. Stunk.'"

Saddest Seuss story-
The Lorax

Most Inspirational story-
Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Hardest to read to the kids-
Fox in Socks (please NO!)

Statement book-
Tie between The Lorax and The Sneetches

Fav to read to kids-
Green Eggs and Ham (it never gets old)

Fav rhyming book-
There's a Wocket in my Pocket

Most creative-
Oh the Thinks you can Think!

Most Un-Seuss-like-

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

One that Seuss shouldn't have written-
The Cat in the Hat comes back

Book that I wish HE could have finished himself-
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!


So there it is. Happy birthday Dr. Seuss. The world is a better place because of your creative brilliance.

Friday, February 27, 2009

This is My Kind of Train Ride



Did they have to pay extra for this ride?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Facebook Made Me Do It


Facebook has become to social networking what Google has become to search. It has also created a whole lot of questions about social networking behavior, ethics and even myths and assumptions that we believe about it. So while we are still in the early stages of this phenomenon, here is link to an article in Newsweek that any facebook user should read. It's called "Seven Lies We Tell Ourselves About Facebook". I gave you the link to the full article, here are the lies. Can you relate?

1. I Only Friend People I Really Know

2. Facebook Made Me Do It

3. Wall-to-Wall Flirting Isn't Cheating

4. I Use Facebook to Keep in Touch With People

5. I'm Soooo Over Facebook

6. And I am Soooo Not Competitive

7. Facebook is My Friend

Thursday, February 19, 2009

grace

I love the word and concept of grace. It's, well, amazing. We wound up giving our youngest the middle name of Grace because the season of our life that she was born in was a time of serious grace. I was reminded of the depth of grace today while listening to U2's song of the same name. Love the lines "She travels outside of karma" and "She carries a world on her hips, No champagne flute for her lips".

Grace is a hardworker with little reward. Almost everything today is about "put something in, get something out." Or "nothing's free." This isn't to say that these ideas are wrong, it's just that sometimes you just need a little grace that comes at you with no strings attached.

Here's the full lyric from U2. It's worth looking at again...


Grace
She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

Grace
It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that
Changed the world

And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness
In everything

Grace
She's got the walk
Not on a wrapper on chalk
She's got the time to talk

She travels outside
Of karma, karma
She travels outside
Of karma

When she goes to work
You can hear the strings
Grace finds beauty
In everything

Grace
She carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips
Between her fingertips

She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hers
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stains

Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace finds beauty
In everything

Grace finds goodness
In everything


Have some grace on me today!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday


Happy 200th Abe. You've never looked better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blogging for Dollars

I read in this week's Newsweek about the guy who blogged as Steve Jobs. His article titled "Time to Hang up the Pajamas" is a confession about his inability to make a business career out of blogging. Using Google's adsense, posting 10-20 items a day and with hundreds of thousands of hits Each day, he made a "whopping total of $1,039.81." His conclusion is that blogging will not lead to financial prosperity. So why blog if you are not able to make a living with it?

While I can appreciate people's reasons for blogging for dollars, or selling a book, or becoming popular etc. etc., my purpose for blogging is a bit simpler, I like it. Here's why...

1. I like a good creative outlet.
I enjoy the creative process of writing and blogging allows me to communicate some things that might otherwise just continue to rattle around in my brain.

2. I like staying connected with people.
I have had the good fortune of meeting some amazing people over my lifetime and although I enjoy the new found connectedness of facebooking with people, I find that blogging allows for a bit of a deeper connect than a simple status update.

3. I enjoy passing on things that I find interesting, funny, challenging, educational etc.
This is my networking side that I cannot shut off.

I do NOT blog for money or to be known or to see how many hits or comments I can get in a day. If a blogger is not careful, he can begin to take himself too seriously. I have vowed to try my best to not make that mistake. If you have tried to look for a place to comment here, sorry, I shut that off a while ago to protect from myself from that (unless of course you are my facebook friend- can't shut that one off I don't think).

So, hope you have enjoyed some of my blogging. If any of them have made you smile, laugh, think, act or change in even a small way...then I've gotten all the compensation I need.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Louis C.K. waxes on about the GOOD in today's BAD Realities



A friend of mine posted this on facebook (thank you Corrie) and it has to be one of the funniest and saddest commentaries on today's society that I have seen in a while. The clip is of Louis C.K. on Conan O'brien talking about how a little dose of reality can help this generation figure out just how good we have it. This is MUST SEE TV. I will be making sure that my teenager sees it and hope that it goes wildly viral.


**facebook users click HERE.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Feel-Good Remake of... The Shining



What happens when you combine You-tube, humor and one of the great scary movies of all time? You get the remake of The Shining trailer.


**facebook users, this is a feed from my blog that has video- click HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is It Time to Make the Mac Switch?



For many of us, Mac is an unknown world. We have tasted the Kool-aid on the whole ipod thing and the itunes thing. But the Mac computer still feels a bit out there. We see the Mac users swear by their machines. We see their mouths water as once a year they watch Steve Jobs pull out another lighter, sleeker version of their favorite toys. So finally, Mac may have created something that causes me and the other 94% of computer users in the US (96% worldwide) to make the change...the macwheel!


*facebook users click here- the mac wheel!

Monday, January 19, 2009

He Saw It From The Mountaintop

Today marks one of the most significant Martin Luther King holidays ever. It falls on the eve of the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. Troy Jackson, a friend of mine who pastors a church in Cincinnati, came out with an excellent book on Dr. King called Becoming King. The book is about King's life before he was a national figure. It chronicles his life while he was a 25 year old preacher and pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. Not too long after he was there, a seamstress at a downtown apartment store boarded a bus and refused to give up her seat to a white woman. Mrs. Park's case sparked a boycott that lasted close to a year and was one of the pivotal events that thrust this young preacher onto the national stage. Troy's done the world a great service with this book that provides us a look at a very human young man who would become "King".

This past week, I have watched several of Dr. King's speeches. One of the most inspiring is his "Mountaintop Speech" where it seems he knew that his time had come to an end. The clip that I embedded into the blog only gives the closing. There are several significant passages in the speech that move me including this one about the Good Samaritan's and the Priest's response to the man in distress:

"And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"


Good words for all of us to take to heart as we honor Dr. King today. He concludes his speech about not being afraid of anyone because he has been to the mountaintop and has seen the promised land. Of course we know that he was shot and killed the very next day. Part of me wonders if in his mind's eye what he saw from that mountaintop looked a lot like inauguration day tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

pro life versus PRO LIFE

On the weekend of Sanctity of Life Sunday, it's interesting to note the shift taking place in the way that young Christians are defining pro-life. I have seen it happening for a few years now and it seems to be gaining momentum with the recent election. These young people are expanding the definition beyond abortion. Two articles that I read this week speak to this shift.

The first is called 'Life' Movement Evolves by Tom Krattenmaker of USA Today. He writes-

Christians have taken up a fight for global good, targeting human trafficking
and the sex trade industry that tortures souls around the world. Consider this a
new face of the "pro-life" movement.


And the other one is Redefining ProLife from Skye Jethani, managing editor of Leadership. He writes,

Christians have always been pro-life. During the Roman Empire when
infanticide was rampant, it was Christians who retrieved abandoned babies from
outside the city walls to raise them as their own. But it was also the church
that gave unprecedented dignity to slaves, women, and social outcasts. Some have
even hypothesized that it was Christianity's appeal to the disenfranchised
masses that fueled its rapid expansion.

But since Roe vs. Wade, the way "pro-life" has been defined by many
evangelicals has been very narrow. It has simply meant anti-abortion. But now
that seems to be changing. Growing numbers of Christians are embracing a wider
ethic of life. Jim Wallis has called for a Christian agenda that is pro-life
"from the womb to the tomb." That means valuing people after they are born, and
not just before. It means pursuing social justice, equality, education, health
care, and human rights. It means fighting poverty and advocating for those
without a voice.


Will this redefinition take root? If so, what will this do for the "Pro-Life" movement? Will it bring more people in and strenghten the message or water it down so that it loses its focus and passion?

Whatever happens, it does seem that this conversation is a healthy one to have. Poverty and injustice are issues that all people of faith must address whether or not they are included on the pro-life agenda. By drawing added attention to these needs, the conversation might be as good as the end result.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Changing my mind about changing my mind

I just read an article in Newsweek about when scientists change their mind. Tucked away at the end of the article, the columnist throws in a little interesting finding about people's happiness and their ability to change their minds.

"Let's end on an up note. Like every other psychology researcher, Harvard's Daniel Gilbert believed that people are happier when they can change their minds. But in 2002 he and a colleague discovered that people are generally happier about irrevocable decisions: once you are locked in to a decision, you tend to focus on its positive aspects and ignore the negative ones. But if you are allowed to change your mind, you ruminate on both the positive and negative aspects of the choice, which makes you less happy. Inspired by his findings, Gilbert proposed to his girlfriend. Since the "till death" vow makes marriage an (almost)irrevocable decision, the result is that "I love my wife more than I loved my girlfriend."


The article has little to do with this study, but it really made me think. Could this be why our culture is increasingly unhappy? We are inundated with choices. We can't seem to commit to anything. Vows scare us. We like to leave our options open, in case something better comes along.

Maybe the ability to change our minds and not fully commit to anything actually creates more uncertainty which leads to more stress, more anxiety and more unhappiness.

But maybe not.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What to do with a Forgettable Year...

2008 was a year that many would like to forget. The worst economic situation since the great depression and unemployment soaring while our retirement accounts and the value of our homes headed south. To add insult to injury, it was a leap year WITH an added second on the final day due to a slower earth rotation. It was a year that just didn't want to go away.

Ahhh, 2009. Fresh starts, new resolutions and goals.

But what do we do with 2008? It happened. It's part of us, part of our story. We cannot simply delete it. A few thoughts...

1. Celebrate what you can.

It couldn't be ALL bad. And like mom used to say "count your blessings". It might sound corny, but it's old wisdom that doesn't expire.

And really there were some amazing milestones, even collective ones that we can look back on and celebrate. It would be a mark of an ungrateful person who didn't celebrate even the small positives during the last year, even if they were all small positives.

2. Learn what you can.

The biggest downer of 2008 for most people was the financial crisis. It is no secret that part of the problem that got us to this point was our collective bad decisions on credit, consumerism and lack of savings. That's a recipe for disaster. The lessons are obvious. Consume less. Save more. A priority shift in our spending from disposable, consumable goods to long-lasting, altruistic investments will help all of us get over our hangover of excess.

The same look can be given to any bad situation we faced this last year. I looked at quite a few things that I needed to learn from. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but unless we learn from our past mistakes, we're not making any progress, just repeating bad habits.

3. Move on.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is from Philippians 3, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..." It's a great lesson for all of us that the past is really a memory, or a collection of memories in our heads. No matter what happened in 2008, we can't stay there. Press on is Paul's way of saying "move on towards something better."

So goodbye 2008. You'll always be with us, but we will not dwell on you. We will not let your mistakes defeat us. We will take what we can to make 2009 better and we'll pack the rest of you up in a box and put you on a shelf to collect dust.

Happy new year.