Monday, January 29, 2007

Why some ideas stick and others don't . . .


Coauthors (and brothers) Chip and Dan Heath – a Stanford Business School professor and an education entrepreneur respectively – spent a decade disassembling and trying to understand the inner workings of memorable, persuasive ideas, no matter what kind of packages they came in.

They studied political speeches, urban legends, news reports, management directives, and marketing messages like Subway's – not to mention culture-crossing proverbs, the various fables of Aesop, and the many soups of chicken (for the soul).

It didn't matter whether the ideas themselves were good or bad, just that they'd "stuck." (Not only is the Great Wall of China not the sole man-made structure visible from space; it isn't visible from space at all. And still...)

What the Heaths discovered was that the stickiest ideas, regardless of intrinsic merit, had a lot in common. Or, more accurately, the ways they were presented had a lot in common.

read the full article here


Have You Seen (Red)?

(RED) was created by Bono and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of DATA to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with the world's most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT)RED branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT)RED product sold is given to The Global Fund. The money helps women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Below is a note from Bono on the vision behind (RED):

"Sometimes when I'm walking down the street a passer by will say "love your work on Africa, Bono, great cause." Sometimes, they wish they hadn't. I'm Irish, I love to talk to strangers. I love to talk about Africa. It can be hard to get away... Each time it makes me think we need to do much more to get the message across that this is not a "cause," this pandemic that we and so many others are working on. 5,500 Africans dying a day of AIDS, a preventable, treatable disease is not a cause. 5,500 Africans dying each day is an emergency.

Enter Product (RED). (RED) is a new idea we're launching to work alongside the growing ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History. Over the past year, almost 2 million Americans have joined ONE, in churches and chatrooms... on soccer pitches and movie sets... at Nascar races and rock concerts. By 2008, we're aiming to have 5 million members – that's more than the National Rifle Association. Just think for a moment of what that kind of political firepower could achieve for the poorest of the poor..."

read more from Bono here

Get more on (RED) here

Friday, January 26, 2007

Justice for All

I've had a growing interest in investing my time in the fight for the lives of others. This can work itself out in so many ways. I'm not sure how this will pan out, but I know I can not just sit here agreeing that bad things are happening to so many around the world and not recognise that my complacency / comfortability is actually contributing to the problem. I want to be on the solution side. I want to use my freedom to bring freedom to others. IJM [International Justice Movement] seems to be doing a great work in this fight. If you haven't heard of them - check them out. If you're in the States, the above gathering may be of interest as you consider how you're either contributing to the freedom or captivity of other 'children of God' in this world of His. I need to do something. What about you???

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Future of [American] Faith


When asked what he saw on the horizon regarding Americans’ faith, Barna described findings from some research currently in process related to the future of faith. He listed three general patterns he expects to gain prominence in the coming years.

Diversity. There will be new forms of spiritual leadership, different expressions of faith, and greater variety in when and where people meet together to be communities of faith. Ecumenism will expand, as the emerging generations pay less attention to doctrine and more attention to relationships and experiences. Barna predicted that there will be a broader network of micro-faith communities built around lifestyle affinities, such as gay communities of faith, marketplace professionals who gather for faith experiences, and so forth.

Bifurcation. Barna expects to see a widening gap between the intensely committed and those who are casually involved in faith matters. The difference will become strikingly evident between those who make faith the core of their life and those who simply attach a religious component on to an already mature lifestyle.

Media. Spiritual content and experiences will be increasingly related to the use of media. New technologies that will gain market share over the coming decade will significantly reshape how people experience and express their faith, and the ways in which they form communities of faith.

During the past year Barna formed a company (Good News Holdings) with a group of media professionals to approach the faith community not only with facts and figures drawn from research but also with stories and imagery conveyed through media. Asked why he took this new approach, he stated that the job of a servant of God is to be an obedient missionary. “It’s important to go where the people are whom you wish to reach with your message, and then to communicate that message through the language and symbols that they understand,” he explained. “The typical American spends roughly twenty times more hours each week engaged with media than involved with all forms of traditional religious activity. In our society there is a false barrier between those two worlds, and we’re trying to bridge the gap.”

To read more about faith and media, and how Good News Holdings is approaching this dimension, click here for a new article on “spiritainment” by George Barna.

www.goodnewsholdings.com/?p=16


These findings are extremely interesting especially in relation to the arts and media and certainly aren't solely 'American'. These revelations are indicative of Western civilisation (if not further afield) at large. Barna seems to postulate that this area of human existence will grow in prominence and influence in the years ahead both in the mainstream and expressly Christian cultures. In light of this, it's important to have a well thought out 'theology of the arts' - or an understanding of how God infuses the arts. In so doing, we (Christians) will better incarnate Christ in the cultural context of our day. As my friend Ben Price has said, "Science was to modernity as art is to post-modernity." The arts are quickly taking the stage as the main currency of communication in the emerging world. With Barna's research of 20 years leading him to establish a company geared toward implementing this information, it makes me sigh with a sense of affirmation that I wasn't crazy in birthing Dreamers of the Day!

What do you make of all this??

Friday, January 19, 2007

8 Ways to Make People Feel Like a Million Bucks


WINNING WITH PEOPLE


1. Let People Know You Need Them
2. Create a Memory and Visit It Often
3. Give Others a Reputation to Uphold
4. Share a Secret with Someone
5. Do for Others What They Can't Do for Themselves
6. Find the Keys to Their Heart
7. Practice the 30-Second Rule
8. Write Notes of Encouragement

By Dr. John C. Maxwell

read entire article here

N-spiration

“Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”
~ Goethe

  • With whom / where are you practicing this in your life?
  • With whom / where do you need to?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

fuel is back!


fuel is back for a second round! fuel - the reflective journal for the young and young at heart - had just been printed for the second time in six months. This second time we printed 4,000 of the journals which have various revisions/additions including: expanded information on the Christian practice known as Lectio Divina, an expanded section on the Celtic Christian notion of 'thin place' and the role of a spiritual director, a sample reading with sample responses, notes pages and slight design variations. All in all - it rocks! To date fuel has made it to Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, America and Scotland - not to mention Ireland! If you'd like to read about the original launch complete with images see here. To order copies email here. Please comment with your thoughts on this resourse whether or not you've utilised it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Torch

The Torch


The God of Great Endeavor gave me a torch to bear.
I lifted it high above me in the dark and murky air,
And straightaway, with loud hosannas, the crowd proclaimed it's light
And followed me as I carried my torch through the starless night.
Till drunk with the people's praises, and mad with vanity,
I forgot 'twas the torch they followed,
And fancied they followed me.

Then slowly my arm grew weary upholding the shining load,

And my tired feet went stumbling over the dusty road,
And I fell - with the torch beneath me. In a moment the light was out,
When lo from the throng a stripling sprang forth with a mighty shout,
Caught up the torch as it smoldered, and lifted it high again,
Till, fanned by the winds of heaven, it fired the souls of men.

As I lay in the darkness, the feet of the trampling crowd

Passed over and far beyond me, its paeans proclaiming aloud,
And I learned in the deepening twilight, the glorious verity,
'Tis the torch that the people follow,'
Whoever the bearer may be.

-Anonymous


"Lord, free me from the fear of obscurity . ."

- Richard Foster, 'Prayers of the Heart'


Monday, January 08, 2007

Are you a Revolutionary?


According to George Barna with The Barna Group a 'Revolutionary' is someone who exhibits the habits / characteristics below. Are you a Revolutionary?

“Revolutionaries” were classified on the basis of meeting 11 specific criteria. They have a clear sense of the meaning and purpose of their life; describe their relationship with and faith in God as the top priority in their life; consider themselves to be "Christian"; read the Bible regularly; pray regularly; deem their faith to be very important in their life; contend that the main objective in their life is to love God with all their heart, mind, strength and soul; describe God as the "all-knowing, all-powerful being who created the universe and still rules it today"; have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today; believe that when they die they will go to heaven only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; and say that their faith in Christ has "greatly transformed" their life.

What qualities or characteristics would you dispute / add / change in the above list?


Surprised by God


One of my most regular requests of God as of late is that He would surprise me . . with Himself. What a surprise it was then when I was assigned the book, 'God of Surprises' by Jesuit Gerard W. Hughes to read and report on for my course in Spiritual Direction! It was received with great anticipation, and it has been worth the read. In it, Hughes compares chronological phases in human development - institutional, critical and mystical (which correlate loosely to childhood, adolescence and adulthood respectively; based on von Hugel) - with different expressions of the Christian faith as represented in the Church. It has been an interesting read as I have resonated with much of his thoughts. Here is one:


" A mark of true Christianity will be its intellectual vigour and its search for meaning in every aspect of life. True Christianity will always be critical, questioning and continually developing in its understanding of God and human life. The subject matter for religion is every human experience. In Christian understanding, God is immanent, that is, he is present in all things, and creation itself is a sign, and an effective sign, of his presence - a sacrament. That is why there has been such an emphasis on scholarship and learning in the Christian tradition. Faith, as Anselm wrote, 'seeks understanding', for it is the nature of true faith to trust that God is at work in everything and that there is no question which falls outside the scope of religious inquiry. When faith in God weakens, the critical element will also weaken, and there will be more warning against false doctrines than encouragement to develop our understanding. If the critical element is not fostered, Christians will remain infantile in their religious belief and practice, which will have little or no relation to everyday life and behaviour."
[God of Surprises, D.L.T., 2004, pg. 17]

Thoughts?


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Fears Over Future of Anglicanism



Read the Archbishop of Canterbury's own thoughts on the future of the Anglican Communion here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New developments at www.dreamtoday.org


On
the 19th March, 2005 Dr. Peter Rollins gave this lecture called 'A Desert in the Oasis' at an event which was a collaboration between Dreamers of the Day and IKON. The lecture is both inspiring and challenging, delivered in Pete's nonchalant yet engaging style. He shares extensively on the 'third way' that the Christian Mystics offer in approaching the un-nameable Mystery. The lecture is just over an hour in length. Following the lecture is a short question and answer session which may bring out some of the deeper undercurrents from Pete's postulations.

Since the delivery of this lecture, Pete has authored the highly acclaimed book 'How [Not] To Speak of God' with a very warm introduction by author / speaker Brian McLaren in which he says the book is " . . one of the three or four best books of theology I have read in the last decade." We are pleased to make this session available to you and we would love it to spark some dialogue in a global context.

Our other new addition to the Dreamers network is poet/playwright Martin Burke. Born in Ireland but currently living in Belgium, Martin has had several volumes of poetry published in the USA, Ireland and Algeria and he is currently working on several theatre projects. In calling Martin Burke “the eloquent essayist of the sublime” the editors of Projected Letters rightly focused on his central concern as a poet and playwright. This provides the dive and the focus of his work and it is, whatever the guise, the central theme. This eloquence is to be found in the various books of poetry that he has published in the USA, Ireland and Algeria –works which laud the human as well as the divine, works that aim for a celebration of language and rhythm which he has made his own.

The present work - Love's Begotten Flame - is no exception. Indeed it is the natural development of his style and approach to subject-matter, as is the choice of the Gospel of St. John a natural development as a poet. It was Dylan Thomas who said that all his work was written in praise of God and man and he’d be a damned fool if they weren’t. This is also the position adopted by Martin Burke in this long work – a work long in the making but one which satisfies his every need of words and their ability to name and indicate the central mystery of language and life.

You can download either work at www.dreamtoday.org and support two inspiring individuals and the work of Dreamers.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Out of the Blue!

Just last week I was scouring the Ooze and I came across an article called 'Confessions of Emerging Guy' which is a very good article (by that I don't mean dripping with the feel good factor, but challenging and stimulating with a bit of the 'kick-ass' element) and when I reached the bottom I saw that it had been written by a guy called Brian Ross.

Once upon a time, I knew a guy called Brian Ross when I was growing up in central Ohio in the good ol' US of A. We used to hang out a bit when we were in high school. I was dating Christy - my wife now - and he was dating Christy's next youngest sister Alissa. I always enjoyed his company because he had a bit of the prankster streak in him (which I had too) but he also had a lot of integrity about him. At some stage during high school he stopped dating Alissa and we drifted apart.

So, after finding the article I thought I'd search out who this author was exactly (the web is an amazing thing - really) and after a brief bit of come and go, I found out it is the very man I hadn't been in contact with for close to 12 years! What's more, it turns out after catching up that our life stories have travelled similar roads. He has had an arm and a leg in the whole Emergent thing, writing articles and getting involved in a cohort. Brian is now pastoring a 'church for people who don't like church' in Reading, Pennsylvania which is roughly equi-distant between Philly, Harrisburg, Allentown and Lancaster called Koinos. He is currently working on his DMin (Doctor of Ministry) with Leonard Sweet. It's been great briefly sharing what's happened in our lives the last dozen years and I look forward to a stronger tie in the years ahead.

Hungry for More . . .

A good friend of mine - Tim Norris - posted these thoughts a little while back about the apathy he has experienced in the lives of so many people and his desire to see them living life more to the full. Right on! You go Timbo!

"You see, to me, we underestimate our importance to God. We underestimate our potential to advance his Kingdom. Yet every one of us has been given the power to do much more than even Jesus. He has said this himself in John 14:12.

I just know from my own personal journey with God that once we connect with him and realise that he has made us as we are for a reason, if we discover our strengths and type of character we have and apply it, we can really find life to the full."

Read the entire post . . .

Evolution of Dance

Christy and I laughed at this one tonight. The things we thought were cool . . unbelievable!