Stage Three: Practicing

In the Practicing Stage, we explore how we and the community help each other as partners to make our vision real. Here, we ask three questions: What are the strengths of the individual and community in embodying this vision? What are the limitations of the individual and community in embodying this vision? How do we match the gifts to limitations so that the vision might be embodied? Even when you have a personal struggle, a friend who has been there before can give you perspective to help you overcome that struggle. That is at the core of that vision. Romero's life reminds us that in stating the limitations, we begin to describe the freedom we are gifted with and create our little part for the spiritual vision. In the practicing stage, we articulate the optimal experience where the needs of the individual are paired with the resources of the community; and the needs of the community are paired with the resources of the individual. The book, Start with Why, argues that we bring our “why”, our “how”, and our “what” in line to create something that attracts people or to give people a reason to buy in.

Seeing the Image of the divine in poor

As I reflected on this video (insert link) and Matthew 25:31-46, I came to realize that in order to truly help the poor would require us to see the image of the divine in them. That view point doesn’t mean giving materials to them, but more about giving confidence to cope with their struggles in life. 

     Veronica’s story shows that it is more than giving the homeless the resources. It is about giving people the confidence to create solutions. Veronica wanted to design a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag for a school project, but  ended up doing much more than that. She gave people using homeless shelters one thing they  needed most. Some might say, this girl is the real life example of a proverb: “Give man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Veronica in this story provided skills to people who are homeless so that they can become independent. The challenge isn’t so much giving knowledge or resources  but a confidence that a human can, with the right support, create a better solution.

     This story also reminds me about my wife's advocacy for her students with disabilities. She develops a relationship with her students and teaches them how to ask for resources and how to seek for them in the system. These skills help the students achieve their goals. In doing that, she helps them to build confidence in themselves. 

     If we take seriously the story of Matthew 25:31-46, we are here to help the poor and needy. First, we first interact with the person of poverty to see the divine. Second, we work with the person to determine the talents and the struggles the person of poverty may have. Third, we help them discern the resources that will help them overcome their struggles. Last, in time, we help them to build confidence in themselves with the help of God in them, Emmanuel

Stage Two: Understanding

In this post, we will explore the second stage, Understanding. After one describes the experience, one has to “make sense of it”. This is where we develop an understanding. What is the spiritual vision of claiming the authoritative wisdom to deal with this issue? After going through the analysis of the experience, one must step back and look at the big picture. When we look at the issue, we look to the divine wisdom that is found within an authoritative text. To complete the journey is to ask: How do we understand the ancient metaphysics of the text in light of the modern metaphysics? What is the spiritual vision of claiming the authoritative wisdom to deal with this issue? Out of this spiritual vision will come a practice to make the vision real which will be described in the next post. 

Professional Drift Driver explores the Prejudices

This is a video that reminds me of the Tesla Insane Mode videos. There are 2 videos where people trying to make sense of reality that doesn’t make sense. In the Tesla video, it is the concept that electric cars can’t go fast. In the Maxman video, it is the concept that young girls can't drive. These videos show how people confront their prejudices about driving. 

Reflections from 100 Years beauty

Because fashion is one of those things that have an ephemeral nature, it is easy to think that the styles of today are all that is. Truth be told is that there are similarities and differences in styles, because of social and political influences. When you look at these videos - Iran, Mexico, North and South Korea, America - white and African American, you will see how fashion and style  influences  the events of the time in that region. Look at the video of North and South Korea video. After Korean conflict, you will see the difference in style between these two countries, because of different political philosophies. 

Stage one: Experiencing

The experience is a catalyst for our beliefs.  Sensual experience may be from our personal history. It does not have to be a pure experience, but maybe a piece of art or a powerful music that you have encountered that gave you a sensual experience.  The mental models we create helps to focus this large amount of information into manageable pieces that we need to make decisions and take actions.  Often when we encounter a strong emotion when engaging our core belief, we encounter a feeling that we cannot control.    If we sort through the messy feelings we have, we can move beyond the loss of control and move toward a healthier relationship with them.

Batman Stroller

Tim Baker is a prop maker. He makes daily use objects based upon a fan's favorite TV show or movie. This is fascinating how a brand's strength can be seen in its adapted form for alternative uses and not be stuck to its brand. My daughter is not a Batman fan, but she loves the stroller concept. She actually wants one. And that's cool. 

The Unpredictable nature of Theological Reflection

When we do theological reflection well, we have to trust not the process itself alone but also the limits of theological reflection. In these moments, when we stumble over the limits, it is important to become aware of the feelings first, then become aware that we are not in control of this process, but that there is something beyond and third, seek counsel from the authoritative text of our spiritual traditions. We also explored in realizing that we are not in control that we must ask these questions out of a sense of curiosity

Exploring the Stories of Meeting the Divine

Although I start from within the Christian tradition, I think that the theological reflection process is not bound to it.  This is true because of three reasons. First the reality is that this process is a process which all spiritual people can be a part of and can grow authentically to how they encounter the divine and authentically to their religious tradition. Second, one reflects the personal encounter by looking at the authoritative text, which leads to building a relationship between the personal encounter of the divine and the story of the personal faith tradition. Third, when we welcome the other and help them to share their story by giving them the resources to live out their experience of God. We help the individual live into their faith so that they can benefit the wider community as a whole.

Back in 1968 these upcoming seven day changed my family's life

What is in a home? "Home is where the heart is,” the old aphorism says. But what does that mean? Zillow has that commercial where it says,  "You are not looking for a house, you are looking for a place for your life to happen." Yet I think there is something more to home than just a place where our lives happen. In this day and age, if you tell me where you live, you have given me some of your identity. And that is why the next seven days are so important. In 1968 the next  seven days April 3-10 has given me the opportunity to live with my family where-ever the money will carry us. 

You look at my family: a white middle class man, a wife and a daughter. Back in the 60’s, we would have been the people who would be seem as benefitting, because of segregation. It’s weird to think that we are inheritors of Martin Luther King's legacy. While at the reading of Martin Luther King's will, Beth and I were never named, yet our hopes and dreams are the beneficiaries to Martin Luther King's dream. 

Now it is fashionable to look at the civil-rights movement, see what it represents in our culture, have a grievance, and say my civil rights have been violated. In this way, many want to lay claims on the prophet Martin Luther King's dream. Yet when you read their claims, they are, at best, shirttail cousins and, at worst, outright impersonating heirs, seeking to chip away at those hard fought civil rights, as we have recently seen in Indiana and 19 other states who have RIFA laws. So you should be skeptical of my inheritance claims.

My wife is deaf. I’m aware that there are cases where deaf people have been discriminated in housing as late as 2014.  This is a problem. The National Fair Housing Act assures my family a legal remedy if we feel we have been discriminated. We can take legal action against that renter or realtor. In his way, we are inheritors of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King. As we look for a new house for our lives to take place, there are no words to express the the deep and humbling gratitude for those who nonviolently marched toward equality, knowing that many would have to give a full measure for the struggle and so I give thanks. 

Yet there is an awesome realization. Beth’s and my parents can speak of that great horrible day on April 4, 1968. Yet I doubt that they could have ever expected that their children’s dream to be beneficiaries of Fair Housing Act signed seven days later. I walk with Martin’s offspring who are my brothers and sisters whether they live in Ferguson or are gay and lesbian. I do this not because I experience the discrimination that they do, but because that I know Gabby’s, my daughter’s, dreams may one day dependent on the success of their struggle.

In Genesis 12:1-9, there is a story were God and Abram goes "shopping for restate.” There are three verses that are deeply profound:

 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…  Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Abram, who would later be called Abraham, the father of many nations, saw the land that his children and their children live in.

`I have to wonder tonight, the last night of Martin's life. When Martin told of the story when God and him went restate shopping on a mountain top. I wonder when Martin peered over that mountain to see the nation that we live in today. Did he see my family and families like mine? Did God say to him, "because of the sacrifice you pay, they will have the right to buy house where-ever their money will carry them.”

As we conclude this Passion Week, on this Good Friday, as we look to hope of Easter, let us remember that to be children of the living God, to be brother and sister in Christ is to be offspring of Martin's dream, to be blessed, and to be the blessing. To understand that what I have is a legacy of those who have struggled for my equal rights. We need to remember that there is no greater love than to lay down one life for another so that they may live where ever they want in nonviolence and peace.

In life of Christ;

Death is not the end.

"If Martin died for it;

I can carry out what he started."

Amen, Amen, Amen.

 

Churches need cozy corporate spaces

As a general rule, churches are places that lack good design. It is a cross between thrift shop and late 70s corporate design. In most cases, it lacks being cozy. Yet if you ask people one thing that they want in their religious organizations, they want a place that they can feel comfortable. Now this is the challenge: how do you take a space that has a corporate function and make it feel cozy. 

As I looked at these photos at Airbnb office in Portland, I wished that more churches could take inspiration from this interior design. Look at the photos to see what I mean. 

Notice the color palette is bright and white. The designer broke the big space into smaller spaces, but the designer keeps the feel of openness by using bright colors. 

I love how they named their rooms in unconventional manners.  I think this is better than using names of people for these rooms or spaces. Fifty years or so, these names will be forgotten and we would not be able to pass on the stories of these names to the next generation. 

I like how they bring in natural objects of wood, cotton, metal and natural rope to the environment. I feel that every church should have a presenters loft. Figurehead??? 

photos via designtaxi.com via Fubiz, images by Jeremy Bittermann

Building community out of the encounter with Christ

This is the fourth post in a ten post series on theological reflection. In this post, we will reflect on the last stage: Building community out of the encounter with Christ.  This post explores three events: First, the culture begins around the dinner table; second, in the sharing that bread, they were welcoming God into their community without knowing it; and lastly, when we “get” the encounter with the divine, we lose it, yet its impact is drastic and lasting.

Top Ten things I have been cooking

   Crock Pot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad  with  Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing  - Delicious with homemade or store bought taco bowls. For homemade, I use tortilla shells and use tortilla taco bowl baker, which is like a waffle iron shaped like a bowl. My wife loves this dressing and uses it for veggie dips as well. 

Crock Pot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad with Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing - Delicious with homemade or store bought taco bowls. For homemade, I use tortilla shells and use tortilla taco bowl baker, which is like a waffle iron shaped like a bowl. My wife loves this dressing and uses it for veggie dips as well. 

  Easy Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Oregano  - Great for those cold winter days when you want a warm and creamy dish. 

Easy Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Oregano - Great for those cold winter days when you want a warm and creamy dish. 

  Slow Cooker Moroccan Chickpea and Turkey Stew  - I like this with a drop of hummus in the center, and the key to this dish is the mint.  

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chickpea and Turkey Stew - I like this with a drop of hummus in the center, and the key to this dish is the mint.  

   White Castle Sliders  - Yes when you read this, you will see that there is peanut butter and that’s all right. Perfect for these cheeseburger cravings and it's homemade. Yum! 

White Castle Sliders - Yes when you read this, you will see that there is peanut butter and that’s all right. Perfect for these cheeseburger cravings and it's homemade. Yum! 

   Slow Cooker Asian Beef-  Warning: This is addictive. Perfect for lettuce wraps with rice and beef. Yum! 

Slow Cooker Asian Beef- Warning: This is addictive. Perfect for lettuce wraps with rice and beef. Yum! 

   Chicken Couscous Salad  - Simple and easy, especially when you have leftover cooked chicken and cherry tomatoes on hand. Our daughter likes this dish, especially when it has feta cheese on top. 

Chicken Couscous Salad - Simple and easy, especially when you have leftover cooked chicken and cherry tomatoes on hand. Our daughter likes this dish, especially when it has feta cheese on top. 

  Baked Eggs with Buffalo Chicken  - Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Baked Eggs with Buffalo Chicken - Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner

   Basque Chicken with Bell Pepper and Tomato  -Simple, ethnic comfort food.

Basque Chicken with Bell Pepper and Tomato -Simple, ethnic comfort food.

  Spicy Thai Chicken Soup-  This is one that I go back to time after time. Also perfect for those family members who aren't feeling great. Great to make and tastes better as leftovers. Don't put all the veggies in one day unless you have a huge gathering that will eat it up on that day.  Use the fresh veggies (bell pepper, snap peas and basil) as you plan to eat on that day in proportion to the servings, so it maintains freshness. Use less chicken broth and more water as it can be very salty. 

Spicy Thai Chicken Soup- This is one that I go back to time after time. Also perfect for those family members who aren't feeling great. Great to make and tastes better as leftovers. Don't put all the veggies in one day unless you have a huge gathering that will eat it up on that day.  Use the fresh veggies (bell pepper, snap peas and basil) as you plan to eat on that day in proportion to the servings, so it maintains freshness. Use less chicken broth and more water as it can be very salty. 

   Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens  - This is good with andouille sausage. To cut the heat and add some creaminess, add yogurt to the soup when you serve it. 

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens - This is good with andouille sausage. To cut the heat and add some creaminess, add yogurt to the soup when you serve it. 

Learning from the Risen Christ

 Thank you to  vincent desjardins   for sharing this photo  Creative Commons License on  Flickr

Thank you to vincent desjardins for sharing this photo  Creative Commons License on Flickr

Now in this third post of the ten post series on Theological Reflection, we will explore Luke 24: 25-27, which provides this theme: Learning from the Risen Christ. In this text, we will see three things. First, Christ builds relationships between the scriptural text and the experience that the followers have. Second, learning is more than acquiring facts of the story. Moreover, learning is the living wisdom that allows the creative and recreative possibilities of the story. Third, the value of studying the story in community helps us to refine and comprehend the true value of the revealed wisdom.

Christ’s response to the followers is critical to the story: “Oh, how foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets declare was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” Notice that Christ’s response does not lead to a breakdown of the relationship, but rather in that moment, Christ begins to teach. Christ is taking the Scriptures and the experience of the followers to build a relationship.  He reminds the followers about the prophecies about the Messiah and how they became true. He guides them to understanding more about the recent events. He gives them the grounds to develop a vital faith which leads to Christ building a relationship. One can think it is a story that happened a long, long, time ago, even though it might or might not influence his or her life. In this way, we try to limit that which is limitless: God. Christ, however, builds a relationship with us through our hard stories we experience in our lives and the truth found within the scriptures.

To learn about faith is more than just knowledge of the text or comprehension of the doctrines. It is the application into the reality that we live in. Through a creative analysis and synthesis of these ideas, we come to see the living wisdom. This living wisdom is not solely acquired from the certainty of the knowledge we have, but in the creative hope of the unknown which is beyond us can offer. We no longer are solely about the facts of the matter; moreover, we are about the creative and recreative possibilities of the truth that these facts hold. Christ helps the followers to see the living wisdom when he shares the prophecies about the Messiah’s suffering. 

Christ is not alone; he is walking and talking with the followers. To learn from the Risen Christ about one’s faith is not about studying the text alone. It is about studying the text in a community, in conversation: with the story itself, with the history of the faith community, and with the experience of the divine. Yes, one can happen upon truths in quiet meditation on text. However, the analysis and synthesis of the community help us comprehend and refine insights to the true value of the revealed wisdom.

In this post, we explored three things. First, Christ builds relationships between the scriptural text and the experience that the followers have. Second, learning is more than acquiring facts of the story, but it is the living wisdom that allows the creative and recreative possibilities of the story.  Third, studying a story in community help us to refine insights and comprehend the true value of the revealed wisdom. As we move on to the next posts, we will see how this community helps us live out our faith.


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