Rekindling The Joy of Humans Together

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The Joy of Humans Together

I just returned from the UK where I hosted another Kindlings Hearth Retreat with Nigel Goodwin at his home on the Isle of Wight.

The idea behind these retreats is simple.

A by-invitation event where none of the participants knows who will attend, all having been asked: Do you desire to rekindle the holistic spiritual, intellectual and creative legacy of Christians in culture? Would you be interested in joining some other thoughtful, Christian creatives for a two-day getaway?

Our purpose?
1) Develop friendships with thoughtful, creatives in a relaxed environment.
2) Enjoy lively conversation about faith, culture and ideas that matter.
3) See where the first two lead us. (We also enjoy opportunities for prayer, laughter, good food, great wine and comfortable accommodations.)

This is all fresh on my mind as I listen to “Con Te Partiro” being sung by opera and concert singer Neil Latchman ~ one of the participants of last weekend’s retreat. (Pictured on the left with Nigel on the right).

I cannot adequately describe the richness and glories of his voice, one given by God but developed by Neil the steward of such a rare gift.

The current issue of the New Yorker (6/23/08) includes an article on voice recognition systems including those used by corporate America for customer service¢â‚¬¦you know¢â‚¬¦the ones driving you mad?

It concludes ~ “What’s missing from all these programs, however, is emotional recognition. The current technology can capture neither the play of emphasis, rhythm, and intonation in spoken language nor the emotional experience of speaking and understanding language.

Descartes favored a division between reason and emotion, and considered language to be a vehicle of the former.

But speech without emotion, it turns out, isn’t really speech. Cognitively, the words should mean the same thing, regardless of their emotional content. But they don’t.”

For budgetary reasons instead of phoning each day, I text messaged my wife from the UK¢â‚¬¦it was not the same as hearing the musicality of her voice.

I write books and blogs ~ but people who hear me speak experience it differently than those who know me in person.

I broadcast and podcast ~ but the electronic transmission is not the same as being in the same room with me.

God has made us to be with each other so we can see, hear, smell, touch and when appropriate, taste each other!

The greatest argument against virtual life is real life ~ in local community with friends and family.

I love Neil’s recording and on the DVD I’ll see and hear him, but virtually¢â‚¬¦there is nothing to replace the hours Neil and I and others sat in each other’s company and laughed, cried, ate, drank, prayed, sang, worshipped and felt a little more human by the end of the weekend.

So ~ get up from where you are and enter the world of humans, even those of you more comfortable with ideas than people¢â‚¬¦

As Jewish theologian Martin Buber once said,

Here is the infallible test: Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at 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).

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