Circular

Circular: (n) a letter or advertisement that is distributed to a large number of people.

“Shrink to think.”

If you want to get your brain functioning in the realm of creativity instead of repetition, this is better achieved by shrinking what you’re
doing down to its simplest forms.

There is no evil in technology.

There is no sinister nature to the Internet.

But sometimes if life is not simplified, the complication confuses us into believing that we are not responsible for our actions, but instead, victims of a mass plot.

When I was younger, much younger than today, I sat and read circulars. They were little reports, newspapers or flyers put out by people who wanted to communicate what they were doing, how they were doing it and even the way in which they wished others to become involved.

Usually laid out with a typewriter, they were poor quality–carelessly paragraphed and overworded.

But reading them demanded that I do something I did not want to do: stop.

The main reason we don’t start is because we can’t stop. We spend most of our time skidding into the next project with no idea about whether our passions will sustain it.

Please don’t mistake me for some old codger who yearns for the “good ole’ days.” There was so much bad that it deserves to be quarantined for all time.

But there was the introduction of pieces of paper called circulars, which made you stop long enough to think about what somebody else was doing instead of browsing the Internet, bouncing off subjects like a rubber ball.

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Cherry-Pick

Cherry-pick: (v) to selectively choose (the most beneficial items) from what is available.

Living in an era when social slop is often offered as emotional cuisine, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the bad from the good and call it ugly.

Matter of fact, upon reading the word “cherry-pick” this morning, a negative feeling came over me–images of prissy people sitting around
choosing their favorites based upon preference in design and structure.

People often say that I cherry-pick my political views, missions and certainly my spirituality. So to those critics, let me say with full-throated confidence:

You are right.

I have no idea if what I believe about government would actually work, but in my mind it is certainly preferable to the “dance of the dunce” that we presently parade in Washington, D.C.

I don’t know if I am any kind of expert on television, movies and entertainment–I just know that I don’t like anything that doesn’t both entertain and inspire me.

And I certainly cannot contend that the Gospel I believe in is completely in line with the one that was in the mind of the Nazarene who strolled the Earth in loincloth so many centuries ago. But after many years of living, I believe it is still the good news that actually functions in the hearts of all cultures.

It is time we begin to cherry-pick:

Start liking movies for their content instead of who stars in them or who directs them.

Begin to believe in ideas, not because 25,000 people gather to cheer them on, but because they are full of mercy and grace.

Listen to music that stuns our consciousness with an immersion of human awareness instead of merely demonstrating the height and breadth of technology.

I am a cherry-picker–and because of that, I have found my life to be fruitful.

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Buzzer

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Buzzer: (n) an electrical device used for signaling.

Technology makes me giggle.

Day by day, we become convinced that the present innovation surpasses any previous revelation. That’s why we have to number our I-phones. If we don’t have the latest, we are completely in the dark–the Stone Age, if you will.

When I was a boy, I attended a church and we had an activity known as Bible League. It was similar to Jeopardy! or the old-fashioned “College Bowl,” where questions are fired at individual members of a team, and if answered correctly, the whole gang is offered a collective clue. Points were scored, egos were inflated, games were won and talent was touted.

Our sponsors brought us a surprise. It was a box with two buttons and two light bulbs, which they had constructed to enable us to “ring in” and light up, so everyone knew who was to answer the question. It even made a little sound, like a broken door bell with a whiny buzz.

I loved that contraption. I was convinced it was the best thing ever invented. I became so adept at using it that I knew exactly when to hit the button in order to interrupt the flow in such a way as to beat my opponent–and also to trap the inquisitor into accidentally saying a few extra words which would give me a sense of the meaning, enabling me to guess how to answer.

I did fine until the buzzer box broke. Turned out the grown-ups knew how to wire the thing but not how to fix it.

So then I was stuck raising my hand to beat out my competitor. This was more easily eyeballed, causing the questioner to stop more quickly.

I got thrashed. I lifted my hand too soon and was left with no idea what the question was, trying to rattle off information from Adam to Zachariah.

But I will never forget my buzzer box. It was my friend.

And like friends occasionally do, it gave out on me in my hour of greatest need.

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Behind

Behind: (prep) to the far side of something so as to be hidden by it.

Dictionary B

“Behind times.”

It’s the accusation that alleged progressive individuals make about those who have chosen to be not quite so energetic in their leaping.

Here’s what I’ve found: progress is not linear.

It is not a row starting at Point A with a destination somewhere in the future at Point Z.

It’s actually a series of circles.

We roll along forward, and suddenly we dip back, creating a sphere to a former time, attempting to balance our present progress with a little nostalgia and common sense.

So when that circle is completed and we’re back to where we started, then we wiggle ahead a bit.

There are those who prefer to always be pressing on, and certainly there are souls who favor retreating to the rear, to campfires and Kum Bah Yah.

So what is behind us we will once again soon revisit and then grow tired of the repetition, to inch our way forward again.

It may be the accurate definition of the “strait and narrow”–where progress forward is so constricted that occasionally we fall back to remember simpler times.

Some people are frightened that the present technology will take us away from being close to one another and fellowshipping one on one.

Pure foolishness.

We are humans and will always need the sense of closeness … to hear the breathing of our comrades.

 

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Annals

dictionary with letter A

Annals: (pl. n.) a record of events, year by year.

Baffled.

I like that word.

Because when I admit I’m baffled, I’m not saying I’m angry, frustrated, or out to get anyone. I’m just literally confused by the information that’s been provided to me.

I think it’s necessary to become baffled; otherwise, you start accepting what’s around you as normal, rather than looking back in the annals of history, the annals of intelligence and the annals of progress, to remind yourself that this present fad will pass away, lending itself to the possibility of sanity.

Yes, I recently became baffled when I realized that most of my friends whom I’ve known over the years have become more stodgy as they’ve become older instead of pursuing the path of wisdom–garnering the very best of what we’ve learned and bringing that package to the new possibilities before us.

Let me ask you:

  • Why do we line up to imitate the parents we used to rebel against?
  • Why do we suddenly become the gossipers we used to despise and make fun of because of their nasty tongues and bitter faces?
  • Why do we insist that those who are younger than us are somehow stupid or are pursuing destruction, when that is exactly what we were accused of by the stick-in-the-mud adults around us when we were coming of age?

I know we extol the value of mathematics, technology, reading and science, but somewhere along the line we need to hire some good history teachers to remind each and every generation of the ridiculous trends that nearly took us into the pits of hell, burning away our opportunities.

The annals of history are not the memories of old people who have now died and are decaying in graves, but rather, the memories of fresh, young faces who believed they could live forever, and made some poor choices along with their good ones, and found out much too late that life is short.

So I would say to all my friends:

Ease up. The greatest thing you can acquire as you get older is an open mind. Maybe all the extra oxygen coming into that wider space could prevent some dementia.

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Angst

dictionary with letter A

Angst: (n) a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically unfocused, about the human condition or the state of the world in general.

I don’t want to be one of those people who pursue so much optimistic hopefulness that I fail to recognize what is necessary in order to maintain our present integrity.

Yet I have to wonder if it’s possible for the human race, in this season, to acquire both of the necessary portions that make us worthy of continuation.

For I feel it takes progress and process.

Yes, I think technology is wonderful, and I do not want to go back to a time when we had no computers, racism was extolled as normal, and antibiotics were not available for sickness.

I am not nostalgic for backward times.

However, by the same token, making progress without honoring the process of human character which honors the feelings of others, makes the world a dangerous place and certainly volatile.

It produces angst.

We become afraid that we will lose our progress if we honor the process. Or we preach the process and become “anti-progress,” making ourselves appear Neanderthal.

Is it possible to be a human being who realizes that progress needs to be made emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically, without ignoring the values which make the process of living so much sweeter, and ripe with goodness?

We always attach the word “angst” to teenagers, but I am not convinced that a fourteen-year-old riding in a Conestoga Wagon with his parents, crossing the Great Plains in 1850, had much time to reflect on his or her misgivings.

If progress gives us too much free time to bitch and complain, robbing from the process of busying ourselves about becoming better people, then are we really moving forward?

Yet if the process of maintaining civility causes us to be suspicious of every facet of progress, then the foolishness we maintain makes our belief system appear to be shortsighted.

What would it take to mingle progress with process?

  1. I will put to use anything at all that makes life easier, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
  2. I will acknowledge that there is no replacement for personal contact, love and gentleness with my fellow-travelers.
  3. I am ready to go forward if it doesn’t push someone else backward.

I think in considering this trio of principles, we can merge progress and process, to generate a climate of mutual benefit, drenched in compassion.

 

 

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Amid

dictionary with letter A

Amid: (adj) surrounded by, in the middle of

I don’t care.

I once attended a party in Nashville, Tennessee, back in the era when cocaine was the “dandy candy” and never participated, but instead, indulged in conversations with people until they were too stoned to speak, and made sure that folks got home safely.

I’ve been amid conservatives and found myself offering a counterpoint or perhaps an insight that was contrary to the party line.

Likewise, I’ve sat in a room of liberals who sipped their tea and giggled over the ignorance of the right-wingers, and shared with them that many of the folks they were condemning were solid human beings–the salt of the earth.

I’ve had the pleasure of being amid a crisis and remaining calm.

I’ve had the honor of being invited to a special event and discovering that there was no room for me, started to walk away quietly, only to be championed by someone who apparently admired my willingness to avoid fussing.

I’ve been amid a culture for the past twenty years which brags about its technology which only works part of the time, screams the word “exceptional” when mediocre results come tumbling in and argues for self-preservation, when the only way to inherit the earth is to choose a well-intentioned season of meekness.

I have been amid turmoil and proffered humor.

I have been amid misogyny and insisted on equality for all sexes.

I have been amid those who were rejected by society and had the humble privilege of offering a bed, a meal and a bit of hope.

It doesn’t matter what you’re amid.

What matters is what you bring to the midst.