October 27, 2009

Knowing Your Place as an Artist

There is something to be said about knowing your place in the process. As a new writer, I remember the twinge of pain at seeing my work in print after an editor had chopped it up without asking me. I don't know if I was more hurt that it was chopped without being asked or that it was better after that process. I learned a very valuable lesson...my job was to write it the best I could. That's it. Nothing more. I came to understand that my responsibility was not to concern myself with what the editor did with it after it was in their possession.

Some artists and creators are given full control over their product...some do better with this responsibility than others. Stephen King has noted that he loves having an editor, and it shows in the quality of his finished product. But after several hokey films, I think we can all agree that other directors do better a job making his writing into film than he does when he is involved. Just because he writes books very well doesn't mean he is good at screenplays and bringing the original work to life on a big screen. There is some measure of artistic control that he has to let go of in order to gain a quality finished product.

If you work with or as artists in a professional setting it is important to learn this because many do not have complete creative control. You can create the perfect art piece or write the best sentence in the history of composition, and your client can opt for the idea that was your leftover option thrown together just to have one more option. It can be tough to see your best idea rejected in favor of something less than your best.

But the video below reminds us that as writers and artists our joy can and should come from the process. The Men with Pens blog makes a similar point by reminding us that while we don't jump out of bed with excitement about writing, we are certainly empowered and enlivened by the process of doing it.

So remember...Enjoy the process!

What do you think?

October 21, 2009

My Failblog Picture

One of my favorite new humor sites is failblog.org. It has humorous picture of how people do stupid things and get caught with a picture. A little while ago I got a weird captcha word...check it out here and be sure to vote for it: Captcha Fail.

October 20, 2009

Commitment Free

"If you lead a group that allows anyone to join, for free, your group might be large, but it's not tight, it's not organized to make important change. Commitment slows things down in the short run, but ultimately aligns interests." Seth Godin (Check out the rest of the post here.)

And here lies the tension for the modern church. It always seems that the churches with the highest entrance requirements don't have the highest attendance rates, but do make a lot of impact on the lives of its attendees.

What do you think?

October 18, 2009

The Problem with Cable News

Seth Godin posted this list of 12 things that make cable news so bad:

  1. Focus on the urgent instead of the important.
  2. Vivid emotions and the visuals that go with them as a selector for what's important.
  3. Emphasis on noise over thoughtful analysis.
  4. Unwillingness to reverse course and change one's mind.
  5. Xenophobic and jingoistic reactions (fear of outsiders).
  6. Defense of the status quo encouraged by an audience self-selected to be uniform.
  7. Things become important merely because others have decided they are important.
  8. Top down messaging encourages an echo chamber (agree with this edict or change the channel).
  9. Ill-informed about history and this particular issue.
  10. Confusing opinion with the truth.
  11. Revising facts to fit a point of view.
  12. Unwillingness to review past mistakes in light of history and use those to do better next time.
I agree. Anytime you have to fill time slot for the sake of filling time slots you end up with some really bad stuff. This is why I watch John Stewart...at least he realizes he is being laughed at.

What do you think?

October 17, 2009

The Power of Sabbaticals

I just watched this TED video...what an inspiration. This guy is not "religious" but definitely gets the power of taking a sabbatical. I know this is long, but it is worth it.

The sabbatical is not so much time away to do nothing, but the freedom to do your own kinds of projects. He talked about how much time he, 3m, and Google give to employees to do their own projects...Google gives their program designers 20% of their time to work on any project they want. What would happen if every pastor on staff were given responsibilities for 80% of their time and then given permission to spend the other 20% on projects of their own design...That could get interesting.

Either way, it certainly speaks to the power of taking time to "do something else." We are more creative when we take breaks and allow our minds room to breath in the fresh air.

October 12, 2009

Great Quote from Henri Nouwen

This is from In the Name of Jesus, “It is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word, and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?”

The same question holds true for "regular" followers of Jesus. Before we can lead others into a relationship with God we have to have done more than just met Him once over a short prayer of forgiveness. We must be living in relationship with Him through the grace He provides for us.

The question that needs answered is "Are we more a man or woman of God today than we were yesterday?" 

October 8, 2009

1 in 4 People Worldwide are Muslim

CNN.com reports,
Nearly one in four people worldwide is Muslim -- and they are not necessarily where you might think, according to an extensive new study that aims to map the global Muslim population. India, a majority-Hindu country, has more Muslims than any country except for Indonesia and Pakistan, and more than twice as many as Egypt.

China has more Muslims than Syria.

Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon.

And Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya put together.

Nearly two out of three of the world's Muslims are in Asia, stretching from Turkey to Indonesia.

The Middle East and north Africa, which together are home to about one in five of the world's Muslims, trail a very distant second.

There are about 1.57 billion Muslims in the world, according to the report, "Mapping the Global Muslim Population," by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. That represents about 23 percent of the total global population of 6.8 billion.

There are about 2.25 billion Christians, based on projections from the 2005 World Religions Database.
These are some interesting numbers, and beg the question of how we train and prepare for evangelism in the future of the church. This is one of the fastest (if not THE fastest) growing spiritual belief systems in the world.

In my daughter's school, I have noticed the rise of Muslim students. One of her friends is Muslim, and it opened the door for Bri and I to discuss the Christian faith and the Muslim faith when her friend was fasting for Ramadan. As a sidenote: it was interesting to me how Muslim's have no problem teaching their children about fasting as part of their spiritual practice, but, as a Christian, I had not taught Bri. It was a strong reminder that I need to be more intentional about teaching the Christian faith to my child...even the hard parts. Our children are more ready than we think. Bri fasted the entire day.

Here is one thing I do know...it requires us to be loving, patient, and understanding. We have to educate ourselves as to their beliefs and practices. The last thing the Christian faith can afford is to speak badly about them. We must first seek to understand so that we can speak appropriately in their lives.

Here are a few interesting article from Brian Mclaren about his participation as a Christian in Ramadan...interesting: check out this one and this one about why a committed Christian would observe Ramadan., this one, this one, and this one.

October 6, 2009

Brian Mclaren at the Nines Conference

Brian Mclaren is an influencial writer for what has become known as the Emerging Church. This video asks, "What is the Gospel?"

What do you think?

October 5, 2009

Rick McKinley at the Nines

A few weeks ago I registered for a conference call The Nines. It was a novel idea...Each speaker had 9 minutes to speak to the Church about what God had laid on their heart. The conference took place on 09-09-09 and started at 9:09am. This week I want to give you a few of my favorites from the conference.

Rick McKinley has become known as Donald Miller's pastor...much like being known as Brianna's dad! Rick wouldn't be Donald's pastor if he didn't have something to offer of substance. Rick has a lot to say about pastoral humility and a willingness to talk about our struggles.

What do you think?

October 4, 2009

For the Church-Is-Lame-Crowd

I read this quote the other day on JD Greear's blog. It is from the book Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion.
"...But then again, consistency is not a postmodern virtue.  And nowhere is this more aptly displayed than in the barrage of criticisms leveled against the church. 
The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love.  They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing.  They don't like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership.  They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets.  They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they'll complain that the church is "inbred."  They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances.  They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political.  They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can't find a single church that can satisfy them.  They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences.  They want leaders with vision, but don't want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think.  They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members.  They want to be connected with history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week.  They call for not judging "the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people," and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms."
 I am not sure I agree with everything implied by this. I would need to read the rest of the book to make a decision...because I do think there are some things that need to change in the Church. But I am also completely aware of the tensions and hypocrisy that is inherent in taking a stand for or against anything. If you are not doing something because you have found it to be a biblical mandate...you might be doing it for the wrong reasons. What do you think about the quote?