Sunday, November 28, 2010

wisdom vs. information

Last week I started reading the book, Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher.  In the introduction of the book, she very succinctly outlines several of the major issues of our time.  The first issue that really struck me is the problem of wisdom and information.
"We understand many facts about the world, but we cannot discern their meaning or their implications for action...  While we call our time the Age of Information, wisdom is in short supply." (p.3, emphasis added)
She points to how the average American can identify over 1,000 brand names, but can't identify 10 indigenous plants or animals.  With all the knowledge we have, we're more depressed and stressed than ever as a species.  It's as if knowledge is overloading us.  It's complicating our lives and distracting us from the simpler matters of life.

Webster defines wisdom as "knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and of the best means."  It is easy to gain knowledge.  It's everywhere-- the television, the internet, books, etc.  Anything we wish to know we can look up online at anytime.  On the other hand, wisdom has to be sought out.  It takes work and discernment.

This leads me to ask: Can you turn knowledge into wisdom?  How does one get wisdom?  How does one encourage others to attain it? 

"It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf." -Walt Lippmann

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Reporter:  When you pray, what do you say to God?
Mother Teresa:  Nothing. I just listen.
Reporter:  What does God say to you?
Mother Teresa:  Nothing. God just listens, too. And if you don't understand that, I can't explain it to you.

--Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, November 20, 2010

a letter to H

[This is a letter I wrote not too long ago to my friend, H.  From time to time I re-read it for myself.]

H, my love.

You are walking, but where are you going?

You need to go where your heart is telling you to go.  And if you can't hear it, then you need to stop and listen.

"Very few people follow the path laid out for them-- the path to their Personal Legend and to happiness.  Most people see the world as a threatening place and because they do, the world turns out to be a threatening place." -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

You're not a bum, and you are not a woman without guts.  The piece of your soul that is missing is because you're either not moving or are walking without the right destination.
I understand your feelings of loneliness.  I'm having them too, but right now I'm learning how to be my own best friend.  It's difficult at times, but it's incredible.  There are times when I feel impoverished in my friendships as well, but then I think of you and I'm thankful.  Friendship, relationship, and intimacy will come.  Just wait.

Open the compass of your heart, and get going.

all my love,

P.S. You're right, how you spend your time does change who you are.  So invest in yourself, ok?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jesus the human

As a Christian, I've been pondering this...

Why did God choose to make Jesus a man? How would things have been different if Jesus was a woman? Isn't God gender neutral? What are the implications of all this?

Before I say anything on the subject, I need to say this: I believe God was right in making Jesus a man (as God always seems to do the right thing), and the implications of this are huge and are not always thought about and taken into account. First of all, the time period in which Jesus lived was extremely patriarchal. If Jesus was a woman, he would not have had the same impact and credit that people gave him. Granted there were women prophets in that time period, but they didn't have the same kind of influence. One thing the church has struggled with and still does today is that Jesus had/has feminine qualities (he is moved to pity, has compassion, weeps openly for his dead friend, etc.). How do you approach that? I think it's something to be embraced, not ignored. Sociology has proved that masculinity and femininity are determined mostly by social construction, not biology. In other words, we as a society choose what men and women's qualities are. Men are more restricted in their gender roles when it comes to "feminine qualities." Jesus opens up a whole new door.

While we largely ignore parts of Jesus' sex and gender, we over emphasize other parts. We say, "the Father and Son." What about the Mother, the Daughter? Are we all not God's children? This is another reflection of the time period. In the Bible it calls us to protect the widows and the fatherless. This is because if you didn't have a father, you weren't anybody. You had no home, no income. You were powerless. The man, the head of the household, was the provider.  He gave the family a name.  But God is gender neutral. There is a mother heart to God. God is like a parent.  Jesus is not masculine or feminine.  He represented all of humanity.  

There is the saying, "God created us in His image, and we returned the favor."  Is this our attempt to make God more human and thus more comprehensible and understandable?

There is still much to be said on this, but this is just a taste...

Monday, November 15, 2010

intuition & self

[A friend and I had a conversation about my last post.  This is a conglomeration of that conversation and our thoughts.]

There is such thing as intuition, and we all make a knee jerk judgment on the kind of person someone is when we first meet them.  You can sense a person's spirit.  That's the one thing that connects us all together.  A divine spirit dwells in us.  When we are in the presence with others who share the same spirit, it draws us toward one another for fellowship.  So even meeting my friend’s mom for 15 minutes, it was long enough for her to sense my true spirit.

Animals pick up on that WAY better than people too.  They can sense a person’s aura or vibe, and they react to it.  Babies share that ability too.  But as we grow up we get good at lying and building walls, so that it makes it really difficult for us to 'sense' another person's spirit.  Essentially, we get more complicated.  We learned how to build walls to keep others out and ourselves in. 

Sometimes I wonder if we are really scared of Ourselves or is it just that we are scared to accept and recognize the life force we are walking around with.  Our complication comes from denying Him to a degree... and hiding from ourselves really is just our lame attempt of Hiding from Him.  What are we scared of seeing when we really take a look at ourselves?  That we aren't truly self-sufficient and that we have to depend on a higher power?

I think people lack a sense of awareness about themselves and others.  Without awareness, you walk blind.  A LOT of people do that.  Some shy away from themselves completely.  They choose to walk in a fog of self-fulfilling desires.  There are even people who are aware, but if they sit alone, they’re too scared to truly sit with themselves and instead fill their mind with so much noise from the material world.  They do everything to keep the stillness of quiet out.

To best know others, you must first know yourself.

Friday, November 12, 2010


A couple days ago, I was invited to a friend's house.  As I sat on the couch, the girl's mother sat down next to me and we began chatting.  She inquired about my living situation.  I told her that I lived alone and explained that there was a wonderful family in town that was just like family to me so I didn't feel truly alone.  She replied, "Of course you found this good family.  Good people attract other good people, bad people attract other bad people.  You're a good person, so you attract other good people."  Her response to that caught me off guard (seeing as I'd only known her 15 minutes, so how well could she really know me?), but it got me thinking nonetheless. 

Strictly thinking in the non-romantic kind of attraction-- what kind of people do I attract? What qualities draw me to others?  What qualities of mine shine forth to draw others to me?  What do my friends have in common?  What do my relationships have in common?  It's interesting to think about.  And even if I think about some of my friend's and the people that they surround themselves with, it says a lot about them.

All throughout our lives, we come into different spaces populated by different people.  We change schools, neighborhoods, jobs, recreational activities, and so on.  We rarely have direct control over who is in or out of this spaces, and in every space we have relationships with every single person populating that space (whether that be a close, polite acquaintance, awkward, stand-offish, or full of tension relationship with those other individuals).  Good or bad, there is a relationship.

Friends stand out, because there's something that attract the two people to each other.  You're drawn to that friend for specific reasons just as they're drawn to you.  And I would venture to say it's much easier for us to identify and name what causes us not to be attracted to someone for real friendship than to say what exactly draws us to certain people.  Anyway, it's just something to think about...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the task

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light. An angel appeared, showed a large rock in front of his cabin and asked him to push against the rock with all his might.

This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock.

Nothing happened. And he decided to make it a matter of prayer.
“Lord I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The angel appeared again :
“My friend, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?”

“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard.
“Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.
“You learned the importance of discipline and training,
"This you have done. Now it is my turn, my task.”

And the angel moved the rock, showing to the man a beautiful path ahead.

[I originally read this story here.]

Monday, November 8, 2010

percolating thoughts (#4)

['Percolating thoughts' is an on-going collection of quotes I have found and gained wisdom from.  These are the ones that I've recently discovered and that I'm currently sitting with and reflecting on...]

"The meaning of life is whatever you make it out to be..."

"Peoples lives are delicate; you cannot interfere with them without running the risk of changing them profoundly.  A chance remark, a careless involvement, may make the difference between a life of happiness and one of sorrow."
-Alexander McCall Smith, The Kalahari Typing School for Men

"Sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do, and pray that the people you love will catch up with you."
-Mary Gauthier, "Drag Queens in Limousines"

"Life is made of our attitudes.  And there are certain things that the gods oblige us to live through.  Their reason for this doesn't matter, and there is no action we can take to make them pass by."
-Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain

Saturday, November 6, 2010

happiness & joy

I read a while ago on the BBC that over 1 in 10 websites is pornographic.

That's a lot of websites.  What does that say about humanity?  Well, we obviously like sex and pleasure.  I wonder how many people are actually looking at these sites.  Is it 10% of the population or maybe more?  I don't know.

We, as inhabitants of the developed countries, seem awfully consumed with what can make us happy and provide pleasure-- techno gadgets, delicious food made completely of chemicals and unnatural substances, escapism through movies and music, clothes that wear us instead of us wearing them, the cycle of wanting (which we turn into needing without so much as blinking) and getting the latest 'thing'. 

People aren't driven by their own fulfillment.  All they can eat are shadows.  They crave happiness and don't know how to seek joy.  They fill themselves with Nothing.

Do most people even understand joy?  Joy can be tricky.  One can have joy, but not be happy.  But the unhappiness is only for a moment.  Joy is a river that runs deep.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

why shout?

A master asked his disciples:
‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’
The disciples thought for a while, and one of them said:
‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why shout when the other person is just next to you? ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.
Finally he explained:
‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are distant. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’
Then the master asked:
‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’
And he finally said:
‘When they love each other even more, what happens?
‘They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.
‘Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’ 
[I found this story here.]