Friday, April 27, 2007

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

I can't even imagine the ways in which this will be useful - but it is the most fascinating tool - and I know it will help me tell better stories. How will you use it?

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

hat tip to one of my favorite gadget blogs: Cool Tools

Monday, April 23, 2007

My actual color palette for the new office

I know that I blogged here of my wishes and whims for fabric for my new office - the fabric I posted was $20.00/yard on eBay - way more than I want/can spend. So today I took a trip across the river to my favorite discount store MARDENS and found my new color palette - no chocolate brown, but I do have the lovely ice blue, this time with ivory, black and silver grey, and I got it ALL for $20.00!!!

I'm really happy and can't wait to get at it!

The Secret and Recovery

I blogged this a couple of months ago on my other blog and since "The Secret" has just found it's way into our community I thought maybe I would post it here too. If you aren't aware of it yet pass this by, if you do bump into it, or people smitten by it please give this a read. It is the "new" old lie - slicked up and with multi-million dollar marketing and it is sucking people in - even the faithful. It tells you everything you want to hear. Unfortunately I think it was the same lie in the garden - "God doesn't have your best interests at heart" and "You can have it all" - both are really problematic when you put them into practice.

John Stackhouse has tackled this theologically on his blog very well, so I will lead you there to read it:

John Stackhouse - Oprah's Secret: New? Old? Good? Bad?

My take has to do with recovery. Far too many I love are really confused, so I put this together to try to shine a bit of light on it:

I've had a lot of friends and people in recovery being exposed to The Secret and left feeling confused and a bit lost so I wanted to get my thoughts on paper to see if this helps them at all.

For those of you living in a cave The Secret has been touted by everyone from Oprah to news anchors - it's the 'new thing' and people are all a twitter. The saddest part of this is that there is nothing new about it, other than the slick, multi-media, multi-million dollar sales pitch.

Others have written on this from a theological standpoint, I, on the other hand want to deal with this from the emotional, practical and recovery side.

First of all, I know it is so hard to be in a room with people who have just "found the secret" and to take issue with it. You look like you're too dumb to 'get it' - that's the point. They have found a way to pitch this like 'only the really smart people will understand this' - so ie, you stand against it, you're not smart... sigh. they're brilliant. (It's really The Emperor's New Clothes)

The other difficulty here is that you "can't" argue against it because then you are shown to be "negative", and negativity cannot dwell within "the secret". They're good, they're really good. It sets up this knowledge like a four star club that only the positive and smart people can get into - so if you challenge it you're not 'smart or positive' - brilliant. I mean, who wants to go against the queen? (Oprah)

I took this position almost exactly 12 months ago when she was all gung ho on James Frey and “A Million Little Lies, er I mean Pieces”... - remember that charade? She had found a new recovery, a new way of getting your life back together - remember? Just decide and you can do it. What a hot mess that was. Do you see the parallels here? Oprah (and countless others) have always searched for the way you can have it all without admitting you are powerless.

This is the key. this is the 'easier, softer way' the Big Book speaks of. I'm sorry, but there is no 'easier, softer way.'

It is my opinion that this is the same lie from the garden, repackaged, slicked up and resold - "God doesn't have your best interests at heart, you can do it without God." it's what Eve wanted to hear, it's what we all, deep in our heart of hearts wants to hear and believe.

I know that the people who are selling this will tell you that you can have God and "The Secret" too, but the god they have packaged here is not the God of recovery. there is no easier, softer way. our lives have become unmanageable.

How many drunks, addicts and junkies want to believe that if they just stop being negative that they will be able to have everything they've ever dreamed of? Every damn one of us. That's what gets us HERE in the first place, isn't it? The Secret is like winning the lotto for the addict - "You mean I can have my crack and eat it too? All I have to do is be positive and think good thoughts? Yay! Hurray! Let's start today!"

I just hope that Oprah and her compatriots will be paying for the rehab of all of those addicts they are leading down this path. This 'easier, softer way'... because it will end in a lavish ball of decadence that brings the addict right back into the willing arms of their addiction.

Come on people - how many Lindsay Lohans, Britney Spears and Olsen Twins does it take to tell you money and power and influence don't make people happy, whole and centered. You can't have it all. You just can't. Oprah can, you can't. And even she can't fill that great big hole in her heart either, that's why she's got to take each and every one of you with her. Because when the cameras stop rolling and nobody's there she's so lonely and desperate every little girl in Africa can't make it better.

I love her, oh how I love her. I love her vision, her passion and her ability to see need and meet it - her heart is good, oh so good, but like mine, her heart is deceitful. I think that means that it will always trick her - just like mine. It will always lead her away from God, to the easier, softer way. and unfortunately, where she leads, many, so very many will follow.

"The Secret" tells you you are powerful. Step One tells us that "we are powerless". It's humiliating. It's horrible to have to admit that food, alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling or any other fix has control over you - but in doing so something happens. God does for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. This is the rub. powerful vs. powerless - can you see why they're making millions selling the books and dvd's? Who doesn't want to believe that if they think it and say it it will happen? Powerful indeed.

What they don't tell you is that all of those people who "knew The Secret" from ancient days were still just people. They were still lonely, tried to fill their lives with stuff, money and power and led empty, temporary lives. They still died. Dead. Done. All of their stuff went to someone else - and their power was gone. That's a secret nobody is talking about.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the poster children of "The Secret". From what I can see from history, he was not a happy person. We're still finding out about the mess he made of his life and the secret relationships he had. He is held out as one of those who understood "The Secret". Did he have power and influence, sure - but he wasn't whole, healthy and happy. He was still searching, grasping and fleeting until the day he died. Do we remember his name, yes. Would have we remembered it if he didn't believe in "The Secret"? I don't know. But I do know that there were things he didn't understand. Things he didn't grasp. Things he didn't understand and no power of positive thinking could give him that.

So please, if you are pondering 'The Secret' please sit with this:

How It Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

AA Big Book - Chapter 5

There is no 'easier, softer way', I'm sorry. I wish there was. I wish with all my heart there was. That I could just speak it, believe it and it would be true, but it didn't work for Dorothy and it won't work for me.

This is the secret I want you to know. God loves you, God loves you, God loves you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New office color palette?

Keith has insulated the back room and it's ready for drywall next week - so I've been contemplating the color palette for my NEW OFFICE! The floor is wood, but nasty, so I'm going to paint it chocolate brown - I think I'm going to do the walls in this ice blue. Anyone know the emotional mojo ice blue gives off? Creative? Or cold? Sleep or energy?

Suggestions? I can't wait to have this space to write and be creative in!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Eagles make great housepets!

After we had to put our dear, sweet Emmy down we determined as a family that we were probably not the best pet owners in the world. We just get too busy to do all of the necessary things a dog or cat needs to be truly loved and cared for.

Our flat here has a "no pet" policy and that sits really well with me - I don't have to be the bad guy anymore - it's "the rule". So upon moving to St. Stephen we adopted our local bald eagle and named him Smeagol - he lives in the park on the river and we get to watch him hunt and nest. He greeted us on our first visit here and we love him.

We're also very close to a game reserve called the Moosehorn and it is home to a nesting pair of bald eagles and at least one golden eagle. They are breath-taking to watch soar and care for their nest.

My blogging friend Candy has just linked me to a webcam of an eagle's nest in Virginia that has three hatched eaglets - I've been watching and enjoying welcoming them into our home. Just in case you're interested they game wardens will be banding the three eaglets this afternoon at 3:00 eastern time.

You can find it here:

Eagle's Nest Webcam

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ganz Webkins

I just left this comment over at Coolest Gadgets and thought that other parents might be navigating this online world like we have here. It is THE thing as far as our two kids are concerned - they LOVE their webkins, and I love that they have pets that I don't have to care for! :)

It's really a brilliant marketing idea - beanie babies with an online personality - can you say "print your own money?" Somebody at Ganz is living large now!

My own two have entered this craze in a paced and monitored way. I have looked over the website and found that it is filled with fun games (some a bit too much like mini gambling for my liking) and building homes and shopping for your pet with money you earn by doing chores and playing games.

Two things of note is that Ganz had NO IDEA the kind of server capacity they needed to maintain the popularity - this is truly a brilliant marketing idea - instant pets that don't poop, eat or shed. My kids love them. It is frustrating for them though to regularly get the "servers down" error as they don't understand all that is involved in providing this huge interactive online experience.

When Ganz introduced it's "chat" capability the server didn't last more than one hour before it was shut down and hasn't been resurrected since. I'm sure it's pouring much of it's profits into maintaining and upgrading it's online capacity as quickly as humanly possible.

I was very skeptical of the chat function and did the research so that I'm ready when the servers are back online - there are two forms of chat available - one is pre-written code lines like "I like your hat" or "Cool" kind of phrases that kids can't change or interact with other than clicking on the phrase they want to "say".

The second level is only accessible with parental permission and numbers, body parts, personal details and names are all blocked from the library of available words. Each word must be spelled correctly to get through the filters and it seems as if they have really put some thought and effort into this so as to keep the predators at bay. It can't stop them from entering the chat area, but it can stop them from dialogging with your child in an inappropriate way.

I know that before I give my own children permission I will be "logging in" as them to navigate it before I give approval. Hope that might help other parents who are wondering about this too.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where have all the souls gone?

Mike just highlighted this article in the Washington Post about a social experiment that astounds me. A virtuoso on a Stradivarius plays for 45 minutes in a subway station and only one person stops to listen for a couple of minutes. He only makes $32 - and over 1000 people walk by listening to their ipods and cell phones instead of enjoying this beauty.

I'd like to think I would have stopped. That I would have plopped myself down on the floor, leaned against the wall and absorbed it into my soul. Replenished the dry places and refilled the cracks.

What have we become?

Read the article yourself here and see the video of those 1000 people just walking by:

Washington Post - Pearls before Breakfast

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Just heard that the ick my daughter has is probably the ick that has quarantined the 2nd floor of our local hospital. Norwalk Virus. Now I think I have it. Yuck. Sick for Easter. I promise I won't touch anyone at church tomorrow if I have the ability to make it there. At least we don't have company coming... sigh..

Friday, April 06, 2007

My hero on my favorite show

I'll blog about this day soon - it was one of my favorites! Lunch with Tony & Peggy Campolo - what an honor!

My hero on my favorite show! It's over 9 minutes long - but well worth the watch. He looks so young and is so energetic - it just thrills my heart to see him so vibrant and energetic still!

Visual Stations of the Cross

This is beautiful - lovely woodcut art and moving imagery. Powerful for this Good Friday.

The Way of the Cross: Audiovisual meditation on Jesus' Passion--death crucifixion Christ stations tenebrae sheahen kaeshi --

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The congregation has left the building

UPDATE #2 - Here's one from "the people formerly known as the pastor" - John Frye, at his blog, Jesus The Radical Pastor - one of Peter's (my first and ever only real pastor) good friends, wrote this and it's heartbreaking.

UPDATE: Bill just linked to two other bloggers who have written "part two" and "part three":

Emerging Grace - The Underlying Issues

Jamie Arpin-Ricci at (e)mergent Voyageurs - The Community Coming to be known as Missional

Great, great thoughts!
Have you ever read your own story in someone else's words?

I just found a link to this article on Mark Peterson's blog - Open Hands - and he quoted part of the blog post of the original author Bill Kinnon - Achievable Ends:

We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating of your preaching venues. We sat passively while you proof-texted your way through 3, 4, 5 or no point sermons - attempting to tell us how you and your reading of The Bible had a plan for our lives. Perhaps God does have a plan for us - it just doesn’t seem to jive with yours. ….

You offered us a myriad of programs to join - volunteer positions to assuage our desire to be connected. We could be greeters, parking lot attendants, coffee baristas, book store helpers, children’s ministry workers, media ministry drones - whatever you needed to fulfill your dreams of corporate glory. Perhaps you’ve noticed, we aren’t there anymore.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid “the assembling of the saints.” We just don’t assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time - engaged in generative conversations - teaching and being taught.

Read the rest of this amazing post here:

The People Formerly Known as the Congregation

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dobson does a 180!

Update: okay - I might be the most gullible - but I still can't believe that would pen someone's repentance letter - I know it's the Door - but still. Just to show that I'm not totally vapid I did catch the Google April Fool's joke (took me a sec, but this one slipped right by me....) I still can't comfirm or deny it - but assume since it is the 1st that they got me - I still think it was in bad taste to have him "repent" as a joke.

I received this in an email from the Wittenburg Door this morning and I honestly couldn't be more stunned. As one who has grown up through this similar ugly form of Dispensationalism I must say that I applaud Dr. Dobson and am so proud of him for his public repentance:

We have tweaked our friend the Rev. James Dobson pretty regularly in the past, particular for his involvement in politics. And when Dr. Dobson called for the resignation of the Rev. Richard Cizik, president for the National Association of Evangelicals because he believed that Cizik was spending too much time worrying about global warming and not enough time spent on “core” Religious Right issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriages, we gigged him pretty hard then, too.

However, we received this e-mail this morning from Dobson’s Focus on the Family ministry and we think it is a remarkable document. It is probably the most honest, most revealing statement ever made by the normally carefully controlled Dobson.

So, in the spirit of Christian reconciliation, we’re making available Dr. Dobson’s complete statement, without editorial comment. (If you would like to send Dr. Dobson an e-mail of support for his courageous reassessment, we’ve kept his contact information at the end of his statement.)

Perhaps he should rename it FICUS on the Family

– Robert Darden, Senior Editor

Colorado Springs, CO – Dear friends and supporters:

Since my ill-advised attack on my dear friend Dick Cizik a few days ago, I have had an extraordinary week of reflection and spiritual enlightenment.

Through the counsel of godly men, such as the Rev. Dr. Jack Hayford, the Rev. Rick Warren, Richard Stearns (President, World Vision), David Neff (Editor, Christianity Today) and other members of The Evangelical Climate Initiative (, I’ve come to see that my assessment of Dick’s motives and, in fact, “global warming,” have been in error as well.

I have been guilty of a particularly pernicious form of short-sighted Dispensationalism, believing that since the earth has no future with the blessed Second Coming nigh, we, as Christians, have no responsibility to care for Creation.

Through loving testimony, instruction and careful study of the Bible with these and other mentors, I no longer believe that Dick is – as I said earlier, much to my regret -- guilty of a “relentless campaign” to save the planet at the expense of what I called more “serious” issues, such as same-sex marriage. I see now that I have strictly exploited those issues and others like them to manipulate my audience and as a calculated and callous form of fund-raising.

As part of my penance for my unmerited attacks on a courageous, godly man, I have initiated contact with both the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Don Wildmon, with the earnest desire to convince them of the error of their ways as well. While both continue to condemn what they call “earthism worship,” I will continue to pray that this revelation will be made available to them as well.

As for the rest of my penance, I will devote the rest of my career – however long the Lord sees fit to continue in this capacity – to working with my Christian brothers and sisters to insure that all life on the planet, God’s first and greatest gift to us, is protected and cherished.

God bless you all,

Jim Dobson
Focus on the Family
8605 Explorer Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80995