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True Confessions: My First week on Facebook. Part I.

True Confessions: My First week on Facebook. Part I.

My First week on Facebook

I have a confession to make. Last week I went on Facebook and twitter

My closest friends know I stayed away on purpose and wondered why I finally gave in to the “dark side.”

The first person to write on my FB wall knew this and said, “take the ring off Frodo before it is too late!”

I resisted Facebook for a whole bunch of reasons.

After a career that was mostly national and international in scope, I became convicted about the importance of local.

The turning point was a conversation with David McFadzean, co-creator, writer and producer of Home Improvement, in which he said something like this.

“Dick you and I both know the media does certain things very well. It entertains, provokes, informs, but it can’t transform a life.” “In my experience,” he said, “transformation happens live, local, grassroots in community.” He added, “In my experience transformation happens in the local church.”

This conversation captured my uneasiness with my career in syndicated radio where as a disembodied personality I communicated to a mass audience of people most of whom I never met in person. I got into radio because it was a place where I could facilitate a conversation about ideas and express my own in the process ~ I had zero interest in celebrity and the superficial connections that it fosters.

To a certain extent the same impersonal relationship is true of authors and the readers of their books. I’ve had four books published in the past 10 years. Too Christian, Too Pagan (Zondervan), Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters, The Culturally Savvy Christian, and last month, About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive.

Books are a great way to organize and systematically express your ideas, and I actually enjoy quite a bit of correspondence with my readers, and I’ve even met many of them, but it isn’t the same as face-to-face relationships with people you will be with again and again.

In light of all this, I made a conscious decision away from another nationally syndicated show and towards live audience events which I then podcast at The Kindlings website. These podcasts combine local, face-to-face interactions with people who I get to meet and know with global distribution.

Also, with British actor Nigel Goodwin and my crazy Halo friend Marty O’Donnell, I began a relational series of Kindlings Hearth events: intimate, by-invitation retreats (max of ten professionals, all of whom are thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance.) We now have over 100 alum with whom we’ve spent intensive time in conversation, over meals and good wine.

We then added KindlingsFest, a summer arts festival, which allows Hearth alum and podcast listeners to meet each other.

But I took another piece of what McFadzean said seriously. I graduated from seminary 36 years ago and after a post-seminary stint in a local church, never worked in a church for the next 33 years. Like many followers of Jesus I have had a love-hate relationship with the local church for a bunch of obvious reasons.

So our boldest and riskiest move was to a small island where I joined the pastoral staff of a thriving interdenominational, intergenerational local church on a very diverse and small island in a community that that mixes self-educated to highly educated, rich and working poor, artists and blue-collar folks in a church with over 40 denominations represented (Orcas Island Community Church).

All these life changes mean deeper relationships with fewer people and more time with in-person friends. My ongoing contact with my personal friends, listeners and readers nationally and internationally has been via email and I’ve had difficulty keeping up with it.

So I resisted Facebook and Twitter (and even texting and doing email on my iPhone) because I felt myself more drawn to local personal relationships and already had more national and global relationships than I could possibly nurture. Why add more?

Furthermore, I’ve seen so many people get addicted to social networking to the detriment of relationships with people actually in the room or vicinity that I didn’t want to take the chance that new media would, in the words of Marshall McLuhan, “work me over completely.”

So why did I finally give in?

Part I tells a bit about the resistance. In Part II I’ll tell you about my change of heart. I welcome your comments.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

PS 2.

Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
OR
The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in October 12, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Tolstoy’s Lament: On Love

    Tolstoy’s Lament: On Love

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Tolstoy’s Lament: On Love

    People often say love is the solution to all our societal problems. Lest we think love is an easy path we should remember Tolstoy’s lament.

    He said such wonderful things about love, Tolstoy did, but he was unable to love even his own wife.

    The tragic story is well documented and retold in the film, “The Last Station.” Tolstoy in the final few days of his life renounced his wife Sophia’s rights to his literary legacy, secretly left her in the dead of night, days later was bedridden with a fatal case of pneumonia and refused to see her. (She finally saw him in his dying moments as he slipped into a coma).

    Is this any way to treat the woman who bore him thirteen children (five died in childhood) and had read every word of War and Peace, copied the entire novel by hand seven times, edited, it improved it and helped him with character development and plot?

    His writing about love is eloquent, “Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God¢â‚¬¦ All people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.”

    More specifically Tolstoy believed love in the marriage and family is the best test of love. “For there to be goodness for all, we need to be at our best in the family. To be at your best in the family, you need to be at our best individually. To be at your best individually, you need to have inner goodness. To have inner goodness, you need to have goodness in your heart. To have goodness in your heart, you need to have good thoughts.”
    How could a man know so much about love intellectually and yet fail at it so miserably in his most intimate relationship?

    Charlie Brown offers a clue, “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand,” he once wailed! Love in the abstract is easy, but when love takes on specific flesh it is a different matter.

    I know. As I write this I am traveling to England and there is nothing like travel to squash love.

    I love my daughter. She was my transportation to the airport. But our journey began 20 minutes later than necessary because she needed to check her email.

    We stopped at Starbucks and she ordered a hot item, which took extra time. She is the slowest eater in our family so her chewing noise grated on me as she carefully chomped away en route to the airport.

    I believe God’s image is imprinted on each human friend and stranger, so each of us possesses inestimable worth, except evidently, when you cut in line at the gate, or delay the tram when your baggage blocks the automatic door ~ do any of these things and I will see in you the sprouting of horns and a child of the devil. Oddly, I also feel something devilish surging within me in response.

    The fact that Jesus commanded us to love one another must mean it wouldn’t come easily or naturally, right? As a matter of fact, based on my (and Tolstoy’s) miserable attempts and failures at love, I think it must be a supernatural act.

    This is what contemporary essayist Douglas Coupland discovered. He wrote in Life After God, “Now here is my secret. I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond able to love.”

    The fact that Douglas Coupland, Tolstoy and Dick Staub need God’s help with love does not take us off the hook for doing our part.

    Here Tolstoy offers some advice that he perhaps neglected to put into action with his wife. He said, “We should learn how to love in the same way people learn how to play the violin.”

    Few experiences are more unsettling on the ear than listening to a beginner learn to play the violin, but put that instrument in the hands of Itzhak Perlman and the violin ushers you into the presence of the divine.

    Watching and hearing people learn to love is not pretty, but love takes practice every day, again and again, over and over ~ like the violinist, you can’t miss one day of practice or the screeching sounds begin.

    And even to those who practice every day, Love takes divine help, because at our heart we are naturally selfish, but God’s essence IS love and where there is God there is love.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in September 30, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Wallace and Gromit: Christmas Comes Early

    Wallace and Gromit: Christmas Comes Early

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Wallace and Gromit: Christmas Comes Early

    This weekend at our Kindlings Hearth Retreat on the Isle of Wight (UK) one of our guests was Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit. He was selected to design this year’s Christmas Stamps in the UK and I got some photos of them (they were released in the papers in the UK last week). (Dick Staub on right with Nick Park at Nigel Goodwin’s home on the Isle of Wight and and two of the stamps on the left)

    Nick is a self-effacing, funny and obviously extraordinarily talented guy. (He has been nominated for six Oscars and won four!)

    In addition to Wallace and Gromit he created Shaun the Sheep. On Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” he worked on the famous dance scene involving oven-ready chickens). He also had a part in animating Pee-wee’s Playhouse. He won his first Oscar for his work on Creature Comforts and also won a 2006 Oscar
    For Best Animated Feature Oscar for Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

    The Christmas stamps will be out this year and took two years to develop!

    I love the unique talents God gave Nick and I love that his faithfulness in expressing them means we get to enjoy his work.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in September 29, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Gagging on Gaga

    Gagging on Gaga

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Gagging on Gaga

    A video shot at Lollapalooza in Chicago captures the raunchy scene.

    Lady Gaga, wearing a see-through outfit and high heels, threw herself into the frenzied crowd twice. Rather than surfing through the crowd, she stayed fixed in one spot while half-crazed men grabbed at her breasts and groped at her crotch.

    “If you’re a fan of raunchy insanity, then this year would have been an ideal time to make an appearance at Lollapalooza,” one observer wrote. “… That’s definitely an experience to share with the grandkids.”

    Which brings us to grandpa, that being me.

    A few weeks ago on vacation, my teenage daughter wanted to play some of her favorite tunes, so I kicked back and listened to Lady Gaga. To be sure, her music is energetic and her melodies catchy. In short, the girl can sing.

    When I was a teenager, I played my music for my dad and he always drilled down into the lyrics. Now I find myself doing the same, and Lady Gaga’s are evocative and troubling.

    “I want your psycho, your vertical stick, want you in my rear window, baby you’re sick” she sings in “Bad Romance.” Or this, from “Poker Face”: “Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun, and baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun.” Her song “Just Dance” is an ode to finding herself drunk in a strange club where “I can’t see straight anymore.”

    Her controversial performances are designed to portray her as an edgy, rebel outsider.

    The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards featured a blood-spurting performance of “Paparazzi.” On her Monster Ball Tour, she dresses in black and is attacked by a man who gnaws on her throat, causing “blood” to spurt down her chest; the song ends with her “dying” in a pool of blood.

    In the run-up publicity for Lollapalooza, organizers announced: “Take heed, Chicago. The Fame Monster herself is headed for your city, and she won’t leave `til she’s got your love.”

    Lady Gaga obviously wants, and seeks, a visceral connection with her audience. “I want the imagery to be so strong,” she once said, “that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us.”

    She obviously got her wish at Lollapalooza. But is what she gave, and what they received, love?

    Sometimes a grandpa’s reaction to the latest entertainment fad is fear for the corrosive influence of popular culture on his kids and grandkids. Lady Gaga’s influence is indisputable she made Time magazine’s 100 list of the world’s most influential people, and Forbes listed Gaga fourth on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world.

    I suppose I could react in fear, but in this case I feel sadness, heartache and concern not for my kids, but for Gaga.

    Lady Gaga’s Italian immigrant Catholic family worked hard and sacrificed so she could develop her musical talent. Her dad is said to have been deeply troubled when she began experimenting with drugs and took her act into exhibitionist territory.

    She is a 24-year old girl whom friends describe as sexually confused and whose love life is a mess. She set out to achieve fame and she has done it, but at what price?

    “After watching the Lollapalooza video,” one of her fans observed, “one has to wonder if the superstar is enjoying the afternoon or if there is something else going on here. She seems lucid, but that doesn’t mean she was.”

    If you ask me, something else is definitely going on.

    As a father of four (including three daughters) and grandfather of two (one granddaughter), I want each of my kids and grandchildren to discover who they are and to express their God-given talent. But what I want most is for them to experience the wonder of being fully human to be spiritually, creatively, intellectually, morally and relationally alive, whole and well.

    Lady Gaga is talented, she’s worked hard and she merges music, fashion and performance in creative and artistic ways. While her preoccupation with violence, sexual promiscuity and exhibitionism may be her path to fame, they are also a symptom of a hungry, sad and unsatisfied soul.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in August 13, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Dick Staub¬â„s ¬Å“About You’ Is Now Available

    Dick Staub¬â„s ¬Å“About You’ Is Now Available

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Dick Staub’s “About You” Is Now Available

    Hi there! My newest book, About You, Fully Human: Fully Alive, is now available online and at bookstores everywhere.

    If I may be so bold as to ask this favor? If you have enjoyed my writing, speaking, broadcasting, podcasting or whatever other contact we’ve had, I hope you run right out and buy a copy or order online for your kindle!

    Please read it and then post online comments at Amazon, make mentions on your Facebook or blogs, or suggest this book for your book groups ~ anything and everything will help!

    Publishers are cutting back these days and promotion for this book may need a big boost from word of mouth references!

    Here is a brief summary of what the book deals with

    In About You I explore three major themes:
    One answers the question What can humans do to please God?St. Irenaeus answers saying, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

    The second answers the question What was the mission of Jesus?Hans Rookmaaker answers saying, Jesus didn’t come to make us Christian; Jesus came to make us fully human.”

    The third answers the question What does fully human look like?The answer comes from my own understanding that regardless of nationality, ethnic origin, religion or creed, each and every person on earth is a bearer of God’s image creatively, spiritually, intelligently, morally and relationally in ways unique to them.

    Here are some stellar endorsements!

    “The human race, in its mass confusion and conflict, asks the existential questions to which there seem to be no solid answers. In the sweep of a mere fourteen chapters, Dick Staub offers us the coherent narrative of the Why of humanity, the How of healing, and the Who of the Creator, giving firm ground for thoughtful questioners to stand on.”
    Luci Shaw, poet and author, Breath for the Bones, Harvesting Fog

    “Broadcaster, writer, lover of all things C.S. Lewis, raconteur par excellence and great friend, Dick Staub is one of the few people I’ve met who truly cares about people becoming fully human. He is a faithful and effective guide on the journey to do just that.”
    Bill Kinnon, Moving Image creator, writer, blogger

    “Dick Staub’s insight into our present age and our own deep longings lead us on a “rowdy pilgrimage” to discover the riches that lay within our unique design while pointing us to the fully human life.” Scott and Pam Nolte, theatre artists and co-founders, Taproot Theatre

    “Staub’s refreshingly honest book doesn’t flinch at the reality of our fallenness, but offers fresh insight into a profound mystery: Why does God love us? What is wrong with the current picture of our lives? How can it be painted more beautifully and truly to match the vision of the Artist?” Bruce Herman, artist and Lothlorien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts, Gordon College

    “Dick Staub offers a cup of cold, clear water for all of those who thirst for something significant beyond the oft-superficial and bankrupt materialism of the prevailing culture.” Jeff Johnson, singer and songwriter, Windham Hill/Ark Music

    “About You is a profound, capacious research into what we humans might both be and become as we find, focus and follow the intentionality of The Great Artist.”
    Nigel Goodwin, United Kingdom based actor and international arts advocate

    “Dick Staub is a thoughtful, creative and insightful thinker, who journey’s into the deep questions of life. About You is a treasure map, where Dick serves as both sage and guide, gently leading us to a broader understanding of our own humanity, it’s source and the fullness therein. A must read for fellow sojourners on the road to becoming fully human.” John Priddy, CEO, Priddy Brothers

    Hope to hear your feedback when you read About You!

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in August 11, 2010 by | No Comments »

    The Lost Finale, Finally

    The Lost Finale, Finally

    Pre-Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    The Lost Finale, Finally

    May 23rd marks the Lost finale after six seasons of mind numbing twists and turns.

    If a fan is a fanatic, Lost has fans! Lostpedia.com is just one of hundreds of websites devoted to the careful deconstruction minute-by-minute of each and every episode of Lost.

    Lost is an American live-action television series that follows the lives of plane crash survivors on a mysterious tropical island after their commercial passenger jet crashes somewhere in the South Pacific.

    Critically acclaimed and a popular success, Lost garnered an average of 16 million viewers per episode during its first year and has won numerous awards

    Thematically, Lost is a spiritually evocative show. The original concept for Lost was a cross between the novel Lord of the Flies, the movie Cast Away, the television series Gilligan’s Island and the reality show Survivor.

    But when JJ Abrams, creator of Alias got involved, he agreed to take the project on with one condition ~ the series would have a supernatural angle to it.

    The spiritual plot thickened when he brought in co-writers Damon Lindelof in his 30’s, and Carlton Cuse in his 40’s. Each had experienced spiritual awakenings in the years leading up to Lost. Aspiring to use Lost as a vehicle to tell stories of personal redemption, by season six the backstory of every lead character among the Oceana Six has been developed and explored. (The Oceanic Six are the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 who left the Island and returned openly to civilization January 7, 2005 only to return to the island).

    Carlton Cuse said LOST explores the question of ”how does one lead a life.” Lindelof says during the show’s conception, he was grappling with spiritual issues prompted by the death of his father. At the same time, he was falling in love with his future wife and finding the spiritual connection he was seeking through exposure to her Catholic beliefs.

    ”For me,” he says, “Lost is about the search for meaning.”

    Increasingly popular culture has become a theological location, a place where people tell stories about God, learn about God and teach about God.

    Lost is just such a place.

    On Lost biblical references are a regular occurrence. Mr. Eko carries a stick inscribed with scripture and in an episode titled “The 23rd Psalm” he repeats, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Jack’s last name is Shepherd a metaphor for leader. Old Testament names abound. There is a dark force at work on the island and it is doing battle with Jacob, the original name of Israel in the Old Testament. Aaron (brother of Moses), Benjamin, (the youngest son of Jacob), Isaac (the brother of Jacob) and Rachel (the second wife of the biblical Jacob) all appear. Christian apologist C.S. Lewis (Clives Staples Lewis) parachutes into LOST as a girl named Charlotte Staples Lewis.

    Judeo-Christian references are layered in with other religious and philosophical traditions. John Locke (English Philosopher and father of liberalism), Anthony Cooper (An English philosopher) and Danielle Rousseau (hinting at Swiss philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau?) all make appearances, as does Richard Alpert (a noted psychologist and Hindu spiritualist in real life). Buddhists and Hindus see their traditions referenced in the Dharma initiative and a multitude of other ways. Mysteries abound in the world of Lost where Jack Shepherd, initially at least, appears to be the rationalist and John Locke the man of faith.

    If popular culture is at all a gauge of a culture’s mood, we can say that our fascination with Lost reveals the gravitational pull of our most ancient of stories and the questions they raise. Does God exist? Where is God when I feel lost? How do I explain the miraculous and the forces of good and evil in daily life? Is there an afterlife? Is there such a things as justice? Will right prevail over wrong? Can the Lost be found? Will we go around in circles?

    Lost continues the trend towards spiritual eclecticism employed by George Lucas in Star Wars, where George Lucas put a bunch of religions in a blender and hit the button.

    The finale of Lost will tie together some loose ends in the storyline, but the real life questions will remain. Contemporary culture may be where we do our God-talk, but it is a lot better at asking questions than delivering answers.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in May 19, 2010 by | No Comments »

    In the Land of Low Expectations

    In the Land of Low Expectations

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    In the Land of Low Expectations

    We live in a land of low expectations.

    Some clergy abuse innocents; politicians think they are above the law; Wall Street gets rich at the expense of the middle class; husbands cheat on their wives; parents give children money instead of time; the educational system fails the kids it is trusted to serve.

    I was thinking about this when I read about comments from Andrew Young, author of the gossipy tell-all book, “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down,” when he spoke at the University of Washington.

    Young’s essential point was that we are asking too much of our politicians because, he says, they’re “only human and they’re going to make mistakes.”
    Young has the distinction of using his 15 minutes of fame to regale us with comments that are both obvious and obviously wrong.

    I’m willing to grant his point that politicians are human (despite mounting evidence to the contrary), but Young is wrong to say we are expecting too much from them. The fact is, we are not expecting too much but too little — from clergy, politicians, husbands, educators and, of course, ourselves.

    I was raised to believe that God loves me the way that I am, but loves me too much to let me stay that way. I was urged to become the best version of myself. I was taught that there is right and wrong, and there are consequences for doing what is wrong.

    Back in 1991, in the film “Grand Canyon,” Danny Glover played a character who confronted a menacing gang leader. “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this,” he says to the gang leader. “Everything’s supposed to be different than what is here.”

    When everything is different than it is supposed to be, we have a choice: We can lower our standards and accept the worst in us as the new norm, or we can aim higher.

    A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal described the United States as a nation with “a drug problem and a high school sex problem and a welfare problem and an AIDS problem and a rape problem. None of this will go away until more people in positions of responsibility are willing to come forward and explain, in frankly moral terms, that some of the things people do nowadays are wrong.”

    The ability to see such a thing, and to say it with personal conviction and integrity, requires people who have faced down their own demons and fought to overcome them. We are not looking for self-righteous leaders; we are looking for those who respect the dark side because they battle it daily.

    George Washington Carver put it this way: “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

    Let’s stop making excuses and become the best version of ourselves, both individually and as a society.

    A civilization will be truly great when it is good, and goodness begins with citizens aiming high, inspired by leaders who can show us a better way not just in what they say, but in what they do and how they do it.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in April 26, 2010 by | No Comments »

    In the Land of Narcissists

    In the Land of Narcissists

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    In the Land of Narcissists

    How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? One. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.

    Jesse James, a naughty narcissist has humiliated his wife and our collective darling Sandra Bullock. This after she won the Academy Award for best actress, and the same week told Barbara Walters that “her work got better because she could be both fearful and braver knowing she had her husband to go home to.”

    Just days after her crowning achievement she learned that Jesse was carrying on a tawdry sexual affair with Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, a grotesquely tattooed woman who claims she slept with James for eleven months, providing intimate details and saved text messages as evidence.

    This is the guy Sandra Bullock stood by and supported as they fought for and won a custody battle for his children, the product of his second marriage to a slightly less heavily tattooed porn star.

    Jesse apologized to Bullock saying: “the vast majority of the allegations reported are untrue and unfounded. Beyond that, I will not dignify these private matters with any further public comment. This has caused my wife and kids pain and embarrassment beyond comprehension and I am extremely saddened to have brought this on them.”

    Somehow his dignity and sadness seem peripheral to this story.

    But these kind of lame apologies pour forth like saliva from a Bassett Hound off the lips of Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Governor Mark Sanford, Ted Haggard, former governor Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart and dozens of other men and a few celebrity women caught in adulterous relationships.

    In our jaded age some commentators spun the Bullock-James story as a lucky break for Tiger Woods because Woods’ scandal becoming old news is the best PR strategy Tiger could implement before his return to the Masters.

    Good to know we live in a society that has its priorities in order.

    Behind all these stories is some version of narcissism, the inordinate fascination with oneself, excessive self-love or vanity. Social historian Daniel Boorstin observes, “As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.” In such a culture celebrity is lauded more than character and looking out for number one is assumed to be normal human practice, especially if you can get away with it.

    For a few generations now America has been sucked in to a self-improvement craze with self-help books and gurus multiplying to meet the ever-increasing demand for selves who need improving. This weekend I heard a scholar express his concern for the younger generation because “all of their cultural role models are narcissists.”

    We are now seeing the result of our folly; a nation of narcissists. A young man was explaining to his date why he wasn’t taken seriously at company meetings: “I’m too good looking. As soon as I walk in the door everyone stares at me and assumes I’m too good looking to be smart. The worst part is, I’m usually the smartest person in the room.”

    Breaking a marriage vow always involves some level of self-love and sexual infidelity is symptomatic of our national illness.

    Before we rush to gather and cast stones, let me hasten to add that every human is guilty of self-love at one point or another in life. Some people just have the misfortune of putting it on display for the nation or world to see.

    According to the oldest story in the Bible, the original sin in the Garden of Eden was not eating forbidden fruit; it was worshipping the human self in place of the creator. As Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than find as quickly as possible someone to worship.”

    We come forth from the womb as worshipping creatures and we will worship something ~ if it is something other than God we are guilty of idolatry and if we become our own idol we are narcissists.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in April 7, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Give us this day a better life

    Give us this day a better life

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    Give us this day a better life


    ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞
    I suppose a good life is the succession of good days lived one after another. Therefore, to aim for a good life means concentrating on living one good day at a time.

    But what does that mean and how do I do it?

    A good day is one in which we don’t worry regardless of our circumstances. These may be the best of times or they may be the worst of times, but they are the only times we have, so the Apostle Paul advised, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.”

    Jesus taught us to be content with the simple basics of life. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus doesn’t oppose our long-range plans, 401k’s and investment portfolios, but our happiness should not depend on them.

    In Jesus view, a good day is one where we do God’s will, which he summarized as loving God and loving our neighbor too.

    That God is central to a good day means that God is central in our individual lives each day. In our self-centered age, this is so counterintuitive that spiritual writer Simon Tugwell concluded, “Christianity has to be disappointing, precisely because it is not a mechanism for accomplishing all our human ambitions and aspirations; it is a mechanism for subjecting all things to the will of God.”

    Accepting and doing God’s will requires knowing God’s will and knowing God’s will requires knowing God. For me a good day requires some daily space and quietness set aside for praying, reading scripture, thinking and meditating. This also takes time ~ it turns out that the eternal transcendent “ground of all being” is not in a hurry.

    God’s will requires avoiding the daily temptations to do wrong things; doing good things makes a good day and doing bad things makes a bad day.

    Loving our neighbor takes time. When George Washington returned to Mount Vernon citizens would show up unannounced to meet him. Martha would make tea and invite them for dinner. This socializing generally took place between 3PM and 7PM each day. Then at 7PM Washington would dismiss himself and go to his office where he would spend another hour or two on his correspondence. A big chunk of his afternoon and evening was set-aside for people, often strangers.

    Jesus knew that loving people would get nettlesome, so he said we should learn to forgive other people and ask them to forgive us each day. Keeping short accounts makes for a good day.

    Read biographies and you’ll see most productive people developed daily routines enabling them to chip away at the duties attendant to everyday life. Paul Ford said of C.S. Lewis, “life-style is revealed by the use of time: what is given place and space; what is included and what, therefore, is excluded. For all of his immense output of literary work, his life is marked by a spacious, un-frantic rhythm of worship, work, conversation, availability, and intimacy.”

    I notice in healthy people a balance of time alone, time for their work and time for their family and friends. The Hebrew word shalom, or peace, comes to mind, for in the Jewish tradition peace was not the cessation of war, but rather the wholeness and completeness of life.

    So can I have a good day with my wife in the hospital and me waiting to catch the next ferry in two hours? I think I can. Good days are not delivered with nice pretty bows on them. We make every day a good day. It is a choice. Sometimes, like for me today, events take an unexpected, unwanted turn.

    Our job is to make every day a good one whatever comes our way and I’ve learned I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
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    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in March 24, 2010 by | No Comments »

    And the first shall be last ‘¦

    And the first shall be last ‘¦

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    And the first shall be last ¢â‚¬¦

    Ever since I moved to an island in the middle of Puget Sound two years ago and no longer travel frequently, the friendly skies have grown less friendly. Alas, I slid from Premier Executive status to Premier. Yesterday, I learned I am no longer even Premier.

    How low can you go, I wondered? I was about to find out.

    I arrived at the airport in Seattle for a flight to Washington, D.C., and took my place in a long line of fellow travelers. Just next to
    me, the Premier check-in line was empty, reminding me that the airline no longer thinks I am special.

    After paying $25 to check in a bag (there’s no baggage charge for Premiers), I was told that my normal aisle seat in economy-plus (with
    five extra inches of legroom to accommodate my 6-foot-3-inch frame) was no longer available. Nor could I be upgraded to first class.

    Aeronautical engineers, believing an ideal world is one in which legs can be conveniently stowed in the overhead compartment, have created just such a space. They call it “coach.” I have been banished to a place for people with no legs.

    To add insult to injury, I was informed I would make the nearly six-hour flight across the country in a middle seat. I haven’t sat in a
    middle seat since Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office.

    “Sitting” is not actually a word one can accurately use when describing the squirming, leg-crossing, arm-folding perpetual restless
    movement one engages in when trapped between two prospective NFL linemen — one of them a woman — as all three of us jockey for use of the one-inch-wide arm rest.

    As boarding begins with a red carpet rolled out for first class and my old Premier club members, I check my ticket for my boarding zone and see a dreaded “3.” It will be a long while before I’m able to trudge toward my rendezvous with the legless middle seat.

    There will be no overhead baggage space; my old Premier pals will have already hogged the space with their Volkswagen-sized roll-ons. I’d like to meet the profit-mad suit who decided that charging for bags was a good idea. I could have told him that the inevitable (and predictable) result would be tightwad passengers carrying the suitcases onboard rather than checking them.

    My mind races back to an ad I saw once for an airline offering more spacious coach seating. It featured a passenger walking through the
    luxurious first class cabin only to find a gulag-like coach section filled with barnyard animals.

    I am living the ad.

    Now that most airlines don’t serve meals on flights anymore, passengers are carrying all manner of exotic and odious foods onboard.
    The friendly skies smell like I imagine Animal House did on a Saturday morning after a very wild Friday night.

    In the midst of my travel travails, I phoned my wife. She was delighted by my misery, feeling I had lived too long as a pampered
    Premier, out-of-touch with the lives of the hoi polloi. She roared with laughter as I regaled her with the indignities of my day.

    Where, I ask you, is the love?

    Now here’s the truth. I’m already adapting to no longer being Premier. After my layover in Chicago, I started to take pity on
    Premiers, knowing the only way they achieve their status is by constantly leaving their family for the road, sleeping in sterile hotels
    and enduring the rigors of flight, endless security lines and the hassle of ground transportation on the other end.

    When you commit to the simpler life (or, in my case, have it forced upon you), you can choose the attendant joy and contentment of your new life — or become consumed with the frustration and regret about the life you’ve lost.

    On the few times I head to the mainland, I can endure the indignities of no longer being Premier — if the reward is the peace and
    quiet of a small island where I live with family, see my friends each day, and no longer spend my days in the air, and in airports, that hold
    planes but few good memories.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in March 5, 2010 by | No Comments »