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Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

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Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

The glories of summer are upon us in the great Pacific Northwest Islands; those who have discovered the brilliance of these emerald gems will not deny ~ when the skies are clear blue and the sea air moderate, dry and warm ~ this is heaven on earth.

My day started with a request to review another “emergent/missional church” book aimed at conversations with “unbelievers.”

Having actually spent most of my career engaging in such conversations, there was a hollowness in the book that did not ring true and authentic. It was endorsed by the usual crowd of nouveau evangelicals, who continue to endorse each other’s books, get published, create a lot of stir within the evangelical movement. Do they not see they are truly only a sidecar attraction? In fact I think many of them know theirs is a movement grasping for some sense of relevance, while realizing their influence is diminishing.

Probably what troubles me most about this particular book is the author’s default to easy breezy simplicity expressed in a style suggesting word processing over literary finesse.

I accept this from many writers because they are incapable of more, but this particular writer once showed the promise of a thoughtful creative who could deliver an aesthetically rich prose that transcended the severe limitations imposed by evangelical publishers. They generally aim for the 35 – year-old housewife and now for the 20-35 hipsters who think they are the solution to our religious malaise (not realizing they are part of the problem.)

Relevance is a good thing for a Christian thinker¢â‚¬¦.I thought of this when I read Sean Penn’s comments at the opening of Canne film festival.
“One way or another, when we select the Palme d’Or winner, I think we are going to feel very confident that the film-maker who made the film is very aware of the times in which he or she lives.”

For the longest time the church has operated in a cultural vacuum and so it is good for all of us, young and old, to do the theology that will connect our faith specifically to the times we are in .

But today the work required to translate faith to culture is encumbered by two equal and opposite powerful forces.

First–a biblical, theological, historical literacy is a prerequisite for doing serious faith and cultural correlation. Many of today’s younger (and older) evangelical reformers possess a cultural literacy that far outweighs their literacy in our biblical, theological, historical legacy.

Second– when the culture suffers from an unbearable intellectual, spiritual, creative impoverishment produced by a soul-deadening, busy, commercialized, consumerised, marketized frenzy of activity — seeking relevance too often consists of taking on the very qualities that need to identified, confronted and eradicated, not emulated or imitated.

Jonathan Edwards once said “God makes men aware of their misery before He reveals His mercy and love.”

Transforming our culture begins with recognizing the misery of our superficial faith, abandoning our role as outsiders content to speak to each other and rediscovering the role of a countercultural prophet, showing a better way in community and speaking the truth, gracefully in an age hungry for meaning.

You cannot export what you do not possess.

Our path back starts with renewing a deep pursuit of God, of whom A.W. Tozer said, “God is always nearer than you can imagine Him to be. God is so near that your thoughts are not as near as God; your breath is not as near as God; your very soul is not as near to you as God is. And yet, because He is God, His uncreated Being is so far above us that no thought can conceive it nor words express it.”

A culture seeking the transcendent can only be reached by those who have hungered and thirsted to know God and who have been transformed by God’s imminent presence.

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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    Posted in Staublog in May 17, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Mothers Quotes

    Mothers Quotes

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Mothers Quotes

    As we prepare for Mother’s Day let us regale each other with “momilies” (those truisms mother’s produce spontaneously–like: “I’m only doing this for your own good,” “Rise & Shine,” “There’s no use crying over spilt milk,” “Two wrongs don’t make a right” or “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” to name but a few). Let us also reflect on these quotes selected for your edification and amusement.

    A Mother knows all about her children–She knows about romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams–A father is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house¢â‚¬¦

    A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

    The phrase “working mother” is redundant.

    A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

    I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

    Women’s Liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It’s the men who are discriminated against. They can’t bear children. And no one’s likely to do anything about that. ~Golda Meir

    All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

    An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. ~Spanish Proverb

    When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty


    If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? ~Milton Berle

    Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~Aristotle


    Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

    mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled. ~Emily Dickinson


    A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving


    Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother. ~Beverly Jones

    Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

    The only mothers it is safe to forget on Mother’s Day are the good ones. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

    My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation. ~Mark Twain




    It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it. ~From the television show The Golden Girls

    All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~Abraham Lincoln

    God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. ~Jewish Proverb


    A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. ~Irish Proverb

    By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
– George Washington (1732-1799)


    “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.”
– James Joyce

    “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”
– Mark Twain


    Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy


    When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”
– Pablo Picasso
    “Men are what their mothers made them.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
– Theodore Hesburgh

    A man never sees all that his mother has been to him until it’s too late to let her know that he sees it.”
– W. D. Howells

    “The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her”

    There’s something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she’s only measured water in it. Erma Bombeck

    “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing” Phyliss Diller

    “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up.” Phyliss Diller

    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. 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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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in May 10, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Dehumanizing Work

    Dehumanizing Work

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Dehumanizing Work

    Each trip off island involves making a shopping list so the time can be maximized.

    Since I hate shopping this is yet another reason to not leave the island.

    My first stop was at Circuit City for an item NOT on the list–my car radio has no input for my iPod and this seems les than fully human to me–I heard these guys can install a device that resolves this problem.

    Glob, the name I will assign my clerk, was very, very tired. He yawned and looked aimlessly about as I explained my dilemma. He reported they offered no solution to this problem, this as his manager walked by and assured me, oh contraire hapless shopper, we do offer a solution, but alas the item is out of stock.

    When I suggested calling another store the two of them looked like this novel concept had not once crossed their mind, assuming a mind was in their possession and available for use.

    Finding the store number took considerable time, as did identifying the part number–the entire process was an obvious irritation. Eventually Glob informed me that, “they have two.” The they was not identified nor was the two.

    I asked for further details and Glob showed the first signs of life–evidenced by the redness that began to appear on his neck.

    Manager man came to the rescue and printed directions to another store and handed them to me–still no part number¢â‚¬¦

    As I left the store Glob suddenly appeared in the parking lot with hieroglyphics scratched on a business card.

    At Radio Shack I encountered Glob II, who never once made eye contact and was attitudinally on the surly side from beginning to end of the transaction. I swear I am friendly, courteous and engaging with clerks–Glob II was resistant to my charms and as a matter of fact seemed more than mildly irritated by my attempts at human interaction.

    He seemed to believe his sole responsibility was to serve as a human appendage to the cash register.

    Automated checkout at the grocery store was starting to make sense to me.

    Better to deal with the machine absent a human than deal with a human absent the human.

    Glob II hated his job, hated his life, and I suspect he literally hated me.

    Next stop was the APPLE store, also not on my list (remember it is Mother’s Day week and the priority items were along those lines).

    At the APPLE store young geniuses wandered about avoiding eye contact with customers lest they be summonsed to engage in service.

    Finally Genius Jason appeared and quickly found the item I was looking for. I handed him the gift card with which I planned to pay and he immediately called on a seasoned veteran for assistance.

    As he fiddled with his hand held register, he became distracted by the sound of a voice in his earbud.

    I turned and saw a senior level genius issuing instructions to all the orange shirted store clerks.

    They all laughed and chortled simultaneously. Genius Jason seemed particularly incapable of the multi-tasking required. The synchronization of clerk mental and relational abandonment of customer was storewide!

    Having worked up an appetite I sought comfort in the local Johnny Rocket and plopped myself down on a stool at the counter.

    Josh greeted me with a smile and struck up conversation. He handed me a menu and asked it I had any questions. As I ordered he joked about the diet coke when combined with the high calorie burger and fries prepared in what he claimed was the highest fat content oil on the planet.

    It was oddly politically incorrect and I liked it. He brought the fries and assured me they were hot and he handed my a little paper bowl for my ketchup.

    I was feeling reassured about the relational retail skills of the younger generation when a little sign behind the counter caught my eye.

    1. Greet Guest. (+)
    2. Present Menu (logo facing customer) (+)
    3. Give guest two nickels (“play your favorite song on the jukebox.”) (- I found out later from Josh that the juke boxes have been out of order for a month).
    4. Pour ketchup for guest. (- Josh gave me the dish but did not pour)
    5. Serve beverage (+)
    6. Offer Straw (+)
    7. Present Sandwich (+)
    8. Check Back (-).

    I was asking myself whether it is better to be poorly served as in my earlier experiences, or to be better served but only with the aid of visual and written promptings outlining what would once have been normal human behavior.

    Just then the music in the background blasted out with the Bee Gees “Staying Alive.”

    The place was transformed into a disco with waiters dancing like Travolta, the cook turning the house lights on and off to simulate a strobe effect.”

    Josh was hamming it up and customers were laughing and a good time was had by all.

    Clerk-wise it was the most human interaction of the day and a burden was lifted.

    After the performance, which lasted the length of the song, I asked Josh if “dancing when staying alive” comes on was in the company policy book and he told me yes. I asked if this was part of the interview process and he said no. He volunteered that back East the stores dance to Thriller instead of Staying Alive–inexplicable regionalisms.

    I still felt OK and gave Josh a fairly good tip. He was human, even if it had to be outlined for him. He put his ham-mish heart into the whacko dance. He personalized the tasks and brought a friendly, engaging personal touch to my lunchtime experience.

    Personalizing requires a person and I knew there was one in Josh–I’m not sure about the others.

    Overall my concern is a generation that already hates life at 20–sees no hope for a better life–and rather than making the best of the only life they have–seems content to spill their discontent into their daily interactions.

    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. 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


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in May 6, 2008 by | No Comments »

    TIME 100 Most Influential?

    TIME 100 Most Influential?

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    TIME 100 Most Influential?

    TIME just released the top 100 influential list, their fifth annual list of the world’s most influential people: leaders, thinkers, heroes, artists, scientists and more.

    As with all such lists the compiler gets to decide who has influence, which in the case of TIME means the media is the message. Study this list and it seems influence is actually a factor of how often the person appears in the media.

    How is such a list compiled? Not as simply as Joel Stein’s suggested formula for ranking the top 100–combination of Google hits, adding their YouTube hits and then adding the number of words in their Wikipedia entry, but it is, I think, true that media exposure is disproportionate to inclusion in these lists.

    Having been in the media I am more than aware of the seriousness with which the industry takes itself. If a tree falls in the forest and the media is not there, did the tree actually fall in the forest?

    Spiritual/Religious leadership is not even a category (Their categories are: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Heroes and Pioneers, Scientists and Thinkers and Artists and Entertainers). Evangelical leaders take themselves as seriously as the media and they aren’t even on the list–Pastors Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John Maxwell, Rob Bell aren’t there–they will have to wait their turn for the CT top 100 list. Religious broadcasters Pat Robertson, Paul and Jan Crouch, James Dobson, Charles Stanley and Hank Hanegraff aren’t there.

    With the Chinese Olympics coming up the Dalai Lama is on the list, as is Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox leader included because he “defines environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility.”

    Having been established with the stated purpose of “engaging the culture,” evangelicals ought to be concerned that for the most part they aren’t a blip on the cultural radar. (Except Richard Cizik of the NAE because he “defines environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility.” Remember how I said the media is the message?)

    One would be tempted to write off the importance of the list because it includes world shakers and entertainers Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock and Judd Apatow. But in a superficial age influence need not be defined by depth, thoughtfulness or the rich artistic tradition on which it draws–it just needs to be popular.

    The problem with a list that weighs “popularity” so heavily is that it is by definition of little consequence. Richard Hamilton, early pop artist defined the genre as follows: “mass-produced, low-cost, young, sexy, witty, transient, glamorous, gimmicky, expendable and popular.”

    I’m reminded of a conversation with David McFadzean (co-creator of Home Improvement) a few years ago a when he critiqued an idea I had for a proposed nationally syndicated radio show. “Dick,” he said, “you and I both know the electronic media has severe limitations. It does certain things well–entertain, inform, create awareness, BUT”, David went on to say, “in my experience, transformation happens local, grassroots, in community…”

    I suspect the truest influencers today are parents raising their kids, school teachers educating them, pastors in local churches where souls and spirits are nurtured, coaches of kids sports teams and countless others making a difference locally. You won’t see them on TV–they won’t make the news–they are the backbone of civilization.

    I’m not saying these TIME 100 newsmakers aren’t important–it is just that those drawn to the big stage and driven by ambition and a desire for notoriety seem like the influencers, but are really just the widely known–the rest labor in obscurity.

    Joni Mitchell captured the distinction well in “For Free.”

    I slept last night in a good hotel
    I went shopping today for jewels
    The wind rushed around in the dirty town
    And the children let out from the schools
    I was standing on a noisy corner
    Waiting for the walking green
    Across the street he stood
    And he played real good
    On his clarinet, for free.
    Now me I play for fortune
    And those velvet curtain calls
    I’ve got a black limousine
    And two gentlemen
    Escorting me to the halls
    And I play if you have the money
    Or if you’re a friend to me
    But the one man band
    By the quick lunch stand
    He was playing real good, for free.
    Nobody stopped to hear him
    Though he played so sweet and high
    They knew he had never
    Been on their T.V.
    So they passed his music by
    I meant to go over and ask for a song
    Maybe put on a harmony…
    I heard his refrain
    As the signal changed
    He was playing real good, for free.

    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. 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


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in May 5, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Miley’s Lessons

    Miley’s Lessons

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Lessons from Miley

    Today’s Chicago Tribune tells the tale of parents exasperated with yet another teen idol letting them and their kids down¢â‚¬¦

    “On dozens of chat groups and blogs, you can almost hear parents’ fury and frustration.


    
’I thought I was doing the right thing by restricting my child to G-rated programs on the Disney Channel,’ reads one posting.


    
’How am I supposed to explain this to my 9 year old?’ asks another.


    ‘Here we go again,’ rails a mother clearly exhausted from explaining to her kids why America’s reportedly straight-and-narrow teen idols just can’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow.'”

    This of course is all in reaction to Miley Cyrus who at 15 years of age is a media sensation and is the latest squeaky-clean Disney role model to disappoint her fans.

    Her Best of Both Worlds concert tour last year sold $36 million in tickets, and generated a hit 3D film, but venues sold out so quickly and scalpers sold so many tickets at such high prices that angry parents filed suit and politicians launched investigations. Her CD sales are booming.

    But Cyrus was forced to apologize this week for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair magazine, shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

    One showed the teen covered only by a sheet.

    Originally Cyrus defended herself. “Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie.” Cyrus went on, “I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way.” 



    But she had changed her tune by Sunday, when she released this statement: “I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

    Cyrus also said she was sorry for a series of raunchy snaps released last week. One featured Cyrus pulling her singlet down to reveal a lacy green bra.

    The first I knew we might be in for another disappointment was the Barbara Walters interview after the academy awards¢â‚¬¦

    Walters talked to Miley about actress Jamie Lynn Spears, sister of singer Britney Spears and an actress on the youth-oriented Nickelodeon network, who became pregnant at age 16 – and Vanessa Hudgens, a star of Disney’s High School Musical, whose image took a thrashing when full frontal nude pictures of her appeared on the internet. Miley described them as her friends and good girls. She seemed sweet, naive and not overly discerning.

    After the photo shoot the reaction has been swift. Jamie Lee Curtis said Cyrus’ parents should have stopped her from participating in the Vanity Fair photo shoot. “She is a young girl. She shouldn’t have to deal with any of this. I don’t feel that she was duped … there were people at the shoot that should have been looking out to make sure this didn’t happen.”

    Shock jock Howard Stern complained about one Vanity Fare photo showing Cyrus, with a bared midriff, resting on the knee of her father, country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus, saying “this picture disturbs me. It looks like his daughter is his girlfriend. He’s trying to be hot.”

    What are parents to do?

    1) Redefine what we mean by role model. Parents have got to stop being enablers of the commercialized marketized celebrity of these teen stars. This celebrity worship is bad for our kids and bad for the stars. Role models ought to be real live, local people who know about our kids and care about them, not some disembodied packaged digitally delivered retailed persona.

    2) Show mercy to Miley. She’s young She’s got too much pressure on her. She’s a product of a superficial culture and an imitative Christian Sub-culture. A superficial age produces superficial humans. How is a 15 year-old in such conditions expected to be rooted and grounded?

    3) Be Parents. Our job is not to be cool or to facilitate our kids desire to keep up with fads and their friends. Disney exists to make money not raise kids and everything they produce exists to meet their interests not ours. We are the parents not Disney and we need to be raising countercultural kids. It starts by balancing our kid’s media diet and facilitating real contact with real people, most importantly with parents!

    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. 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


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in May 1, 2008 by | No Comments »

    The Whole Point

    The Whole Point

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    The Whole Point

    I awoke this morning with a lot to do and one thing on my mind.

    My waking thought was “the whole point.”

    Why “the whole point?”

    Maybe because I’ve been working on the idea of what it means to be “fully human” based on the Hans Rookmaaker quote. “Jesus didn’t come to make us Christian He came to make us fully human.” It includes an exploration of “shalom” the Hebrew word for peace, which really means completeness.

    Before I went to bed I was reading the TIME magazine (May 5, 2008) article “There can only be one.” On the cover is a spooky picture –one presidential candidate consisting of half of Obama’s face and half of Hillary’s pasted together.

    Maybe I was trying to make wholeness of the fragmentation of presidential politics.

    Then I thought about my own life–I moved to an island in part to detox from busyness on the mainland and find myself tyrannized by deadlines off island and the compelling draw of being involved with relationships on the island.

    Wholeness is more than balance and it is more than fullness. The “life more abundant” Jesus talked about isn’t just spinning the plates better nor is it adding more good things to an already full plate of good things.

    I went downstairs and began my morning routine of reading, meditating and praying.

    This came from Tolstoy, “remember you do not abide but rather pass through this life. You are not in a home, but on a train that takes you to death. Remember only your body will die and only the spirit is truly alive.”

    I know this much for sure–fully human is sacredly human and requires attentiveness to the spiritual.

    Then I turned to my “Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings From the Northumbria Community” and read this.

    “If you cannot cherish what it is the Lord is doing in your life, at least do NOT waste what He is doing in your life.”

    In my life I’ve gone through more than a few periods of transition marked by uncertainly accompanied by a lack of sure-footedness.

    I’m in one now.

    I think I am being taken apart and put back together again. How discomforting to see parts strewn across the floor with no clue how they get put back together again, or whether some of them will be discarded.

    Cherishing this time and not wasting it seems important.

    Wholeness is not going to come easy.

    I cannot do it alone.

    I need family and good friends.

    I need God.

    I think that’s the Whole Point.

    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. 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


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in April 29, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Connection. Caring. Wholeness.

    Connection. Caring. Wholeness.

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Connection. Caring. Wholeness.

    The vast majority of today’s young people 18-22 are leaving church as soon as they move out of their parent’s homes, and according to Christian Smith, those who stay are practicing an aberrant form of Christianity (therapeutic moralistic deism.)

    Those who leave do so because they feel they never connected with God there; their tribal connections are stronger outside the church than in it; and the issues that matter to them aren’t talked about at church.

    Among the interesting sidebar stories during the Pope’s visit, one of them was about immigrant Latino’s leaving Catholicism in favor of Pentecostalism..

    It occurred to me that what they are finding there is what young people say they are not finding in their evangelical churches (often mega-churches).

    1) They say they found a connection with God and each other.

    “Many have turned to Pentecostalism, a form of evangelical Christianity that stresses a personal, even visceral, connection with God.”

    “To Latinos, the church is a place for socializing,” Father Elizondo Rev. Virgil Elizondo, a professor of pastoral and Hispanic religions at the University of Notre Dame said. “Even people with the deepest of Catholic beliefs, if they’re in a foreign country and they can’t find a church where they can experience companionship, they will look elsewhere.”

    2) They are finding a place that cares.

    The first thing I tell the newcomers is that there are no lambs without a shepherd in our church; no one is a stranger,” said Pastor Tinouco, 62, who has a high school education and 11 churches three each in New York City, Portugal and his native Brazil; one in Switzerland; and one in Newark.
    “Our mission is to welcome the immigrant and be his guide and his support,” he said. “If they need money to pay the rent, we’ll raise the money for them. If they need work, we’ll find them work. If they need someone to talk to, they can come to me.”

    3) They are finding the relevance of faith in daily life.

    “This church is not a place we visit once a week. This church is where we hang around and we share our problems and we celebrate our successes, like we were family.”

    4) The church is where they are beginning to feel whole.

    I feel whole here,” Mrs. Calazans, 42, said one recent Sunday in the Astoria sanctuary, the Portuguese Language Pentecostal Missionary Church, as she swayed to the pop-rock beat of a live gospel band.

    The Latino Catholic is finding in Pentecostalism what today’s young people are not finding in evangelicalism. Oddly, some Pentecostals are also migrating to Catholicism or sometimes to a more intellectually satisfying Protestantism.

    These migrations are a sign of the incompleteness of most religious experiences. Of three forms of religious expression–experiential, propositional and sacramental-Pentecostalism tends to be heavy on experience and light on proposition and the mystery of sacrament.

    Because humans are a mix of mind, spirit and emotion, wholeness requires all three, and an experiential Pentecostalism is as incomplete as a propositional Protestantism..

    In a lonely, fragmented, disconnected age, an experiential connection with God and each other in a caring community in daily life is not a bad place to start, but until it addresses the whole person it also cannot produce whole, fully human Christians.

    I think young people and old need a church experience that is holistic, addressing our intellectual and experiential needs as well as our capacity for mystery.

    That is the search and for those of us in churches, nurturing it in community it is our aim.

    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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    Posted in Staublog in April 24, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Email Overload?

    Email Overload?

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

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

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Email Overload

    In my continuing quest to pass on what I’ve read in the event that you’ve missed something worth reading, I bring you something which you don’t have time to read in light of the subject at hand.

    I am referring to Email Overload and a wonderful NYT article designed to help us think through our approach to it.

    Among the highlights is the news that the curmudgeonly H.L. Mencken (Pictured above and right) answered ALL his daily correspondence the day he received it!

    [“We all can learn from H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), the journalist and essayist, who was another member of the Hundred Thousand Letters Club, yet unlike Edison, corresponded without an amanuensis. His letters were exceptional not only in quantity, but in quality: witty gems that the recipients treasured.

    Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, the author of “Mencken: The American Iconoclast” (Oxford, 2005), shared with me (via e-mail) details of her subject’s letter-writing habits. In his correspondence, Mencken adhered to the most basic of social principles: reciprocity. If someone wrote to him, he believed writing back was, in his words, “only decent politeness.” He reasoned that if it were he who had initiated correspondence, he would expect the same courtesy. “If I write to a man on any proper business and he fails to answer me at once, I set him down as a boor and an ass.”

    Whether the post brought 10 or 80 letters, Mencken read and answered them all the same day. He said, “My mail is so large that if I let it accumulate for even a few days, it would swamp me.””]

    Because I am swamped, I’ll stop while I’m ahead and suggest you read the article which also includes Henry Ford’s solution and Mark Cuban’s as well.

    I do have to say one of my busy friends has found a solution—I sent an email, which was returned today (evidently an old address). I went to his corporate website which I swear is intentionally designed to keep you from actually ever contacting him. I hit the contact button and it took me to 200 FAQ’s but no actual contact information. He works for a Christian Publisher that evidently has gotten to big for its britches¢â‚¬¦even Henry Ford pretended to allow his public to contact him. I could lift the phone, but instead used their automated system to see if I actually ever hear from him. Stay tuned but don’t hold your breath.

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

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    Posted in Staublog in April 21, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Art Helping Us See God

    Art Helping Us See God

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

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    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Art Helping People See God

    A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork. As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”

    Recently I was asked to deliver a devotional to the board of IMAGE Journal, a glorious periodical that grapples with the intersection of faith, art and mystery. Taking up the subject of how art helps us “see God,” I observed that in the last years of his life Tolstoy gathered his favorite thoughts in a daily reader.

    Like Tolstoy instead of a scriptural exposition, I compiled a collection of quotes on how the arts help people see God, which I now share with you. Consider it a chance to sneak a peak at the “kindergarten drawing.”

    Done properly art illuminates the path to God. The late Madeleine L Engle said, “we don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.”

    Art that connects is art that flows from and connects to personal pain and fallenness. Julian of Norwich prayed a simple prayer: “O God, please give me three wounds; the wound of contrition and the wound of compassion and the wound of longing after God.” Then she added this little postscript which I think is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read: ‘This I ask without condition.'”

    Rabbi Abraham Heschel insisted “unless God is of central importance, God is of no importance at all.” So Bono explains, “the music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot; that God is at the centre of the jaunt.”

    Art explores mystery. In his novel As It Is In Heaven Irish writer Niall Williams tells the story of a man whose wife and daughter are killed in a head on collision with a drunk driver. On the opening page he sets the tone, “there are only three great puzzles in the world. The puzzle of love, the puzzle of death, and between each of these and part of both of them, the puzzle of God. God is the greatest puzzle of all.”

    Many artists, even irreligious ones experience the transcendent while making their art. I think this is because humans are created in the image of a creative God and when we practice our craft and do it well we connect with God. Novelist John Updike confessed to this when he said, “I feel I am closest to God when writing. You’re singing praises. You’re describing the world, as it is. And even if the passages turn out sordid or depressing, there’s something holy about the truth.”

    J.R.R. Tolkien said that artists are “sub-creators and as such, even their best work should be done humbly in recognition of their inadequacy as tools in Gods hands. James Lee Burke (one of only two authors to win two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America) describes the artist as an unworthy co-creator with God: “God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis for his partners in creation, but he doesn’t make mistakes.”

    Today’s artist will be tempted to “dumb down” their work to make it relevant in a superficial age, a problem identified by national book award winner Jonathan Franzen, who after the success of his novel, The Corrections clarified the challenge, “the novelist has more and more to say to readers who have less and less time to read: where to find the energy to engage a culture in crisis when the crisis consists in the impossibility of engaging the culture?”

    The stakes are high, but art that illuminates the path to God is essential in a polluted age where souls are gasping for the fresh spiritual air.

    So I end with Annie Dillard advising writers. “Assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?”

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

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    Posted in Staublog in April 17, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Three stories from the New Yorker on Reading & Meeting Interesting People for a Living; The Marvel of Comics; Men and their Toys

    Three stories from the New Yorker on Reading & Meeting Interesting People for a Living; The Marvel of Comics; Men and their Toys

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

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

    Three stories from the New Yorker on Reading & Meeting Interesting People for a Living; The Marvel of Comics; Men and their Toys.

    Reading & Meeting Interesting People for a Living
    The Monday after my first Sunday speaking at Orcas Island Community Church I ran into a new friend on the ferry whose opening line was, “I watched you yesterday, heard all your references and said to myself, ‘that lucky son of a bitch gets paid to read and think all day!'” I would add to that–and I also get paid for meeting and talking with interesting guys like you!

    For 12+ years that is what I did as a talk show host–read the papers, influential books, talked to their authors and fielded calls from across the nation.

    Before pastors became convinced they were supposed to be entrepreneurs, managers, CEO’s and a host of other diversionary jobs, most pastor’s functioned more like my newfound friend’s dream–reading, thinking, communicating and talking to interesting people all day.

    Lest one protest, saying the mere mortals in the typical church aren’t as interesting as important, influential authors, I remind you that CS Lewis himself said “you have never met a mere mortal.”

    This came to mind when I read Lizzie Widdicombe’s piece in the New Yorker
    (April 10 2008) “Bored at work? Victim of a hiring freeze? In the past few weeks, word has been circulating, among the post-collegiate cubicle crowd, about an exciting new job opportunity. The rumor, according to one (unofficial) e-mail: “Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer (Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, American Gangster) is looking for a new cultural attaché.”

    The e-mail explained: This person would be responsible for keeping Brian abreast of everything that’s going on in the world; politically, culturally, musically. . . . They’re also responsible for finding an interesting person for Brian to meet with every week . . . an astronaut, a journalist, a philosopher, a Buddhist monk. . . . There is LOTS of reading for this position! Grazer may ask you to read any book he’s interested in. You’ll probably get to read about 4 or 5 books a week and you may be required to travel with him on his private plane to Hawaii, New York, Europe teaching him anything he asks you about along the way. . . . You will also be provided with an assistant. . . . Salary is around $150,000 a year. . . .”

    My advise? Save the hassle of reading and booking for a Hollywood big shot–make your daily life an adventure–read and talk to people.

    The Marvel of Comics
    MY friend Marty (Of Halo fame) is always trying to convince me of the important deeper meaning of the younger generation’s fascination with games and comics.

    My wife regularly tells me things I do not hear until someone else says the same thing and I’m afraid I am about to do that with Marty as well.

    Michael Chabon, an author I respect and have interviewed on multiple occasions made a point about the significance of comic, and I heard him as if it was for the first time.

    In an article in which he talks about a youthful fascination with comics and a teacher who thought they were a wasteful diversion, Chabon comments. “They are (sic) not about escape, I wanted to tell Mr. Spector, thus unwittingly plagiarizing in advance the well-known formula of a (fictitious) pioneer and theorist of superhero comics, Sam Clay. They are (sic) about transformation.” (New Yorker 4/10/08)

    Men and their Toys.

    Finally I offer this without commentary–but with a simple suggestion.

    “Shortly before Valentine’s Day, a study was released claiming that 47% of men in Britain would give up sex in return for a big-screen plasma television. (New Yorker. Patricia Marx 3/10-08)

    Might this make a good conversation starter at dinner tonight?

    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. 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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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in April 10, 2008 by | No Comments »