“What on earth is water?”

two-fishTwo fish were swimming in the ocean when they were approached by another fish.  “How’s the water,” he asked.

After he swam away, one of the two fish looked at the other and said, “What on earth is water?”

The story was told at a 3-day workshop called “Helping Men to Change.”  The speaker told the story to illustrate how unaware we are, men and women, of the cultural assumptions in which we swim.  In this case it was the rules we accept about men and how they are to conduct their lives.  For example, “Men can’t cry” – the number one rule for men, and “men must fix things.”. Continue reading

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“I want to punch God in the face!”

punch-godOur conversation began with, “Are you a pastor?”

I don’t know where that came from.  I never did anything that would have given away my identity.  Plus, on the bike path  I was always wearing a dirty ball cap and blue jeans.  Incognito.  Or so I thought. Continue reading

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stereotypes 02I have a friend who is 180 degrees from me.  From my faith.  From my temperament.  From my interests.  From what I read.  My opposite in almost every way..

My friend has stereotypes about who Christian people are and what they believe, and those stereotypes are often in-play when we have a conversation. I can tell when he is testing his stereotypes; he drops big ideological bombs to see how I react. Continue reading

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Strangers in a Room

disgusted-look-manThe first meeting of the group was short. Organizers used the time to help the group make introductions and start forming relationships. Most were strangers to each other. There was little group affinity because of its design. An accurate social picture of our community.

No one had any obvious advantage in the group. We were all newcomers, all strangers to one another, and without the usual stereotypes. Because of that equality, we each had a great opportunity to make new friends and become a respected voice in the group process. Continue reading

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Last Rites

Last Rites 02The nursing staff at the hospice was having their weekly case review meeting.  One of their client’s had asked if the hospice chaplain (me) could come for a visit.

The patient’s daughter answered the door.  “Mom’s back here; is it alright if I join you?” Continue reading

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How Starbucks Changed My Sermons

starbucksMy old office had a nice desk and a comfy sofa. My books lined three walls. An assistant provided helpful support and freed me from menial tasks. My office was the perfect place, I thought, to allow ideas to percolate as I prepared sermons for the 200 worshipers that gathered each week in my previous church.

That was until I moved to a new town a few years ago to “plant” a church. Continue reading

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The National Mood

Screaming FacesIf there was prevailing mood in our nation today, it would be cynicism or pessimism.

Both issue from a dark belief that there is nothing pure, good, altruistic, or hopeful in this life.  In this perspective, every person with an opposing view is demonic.

The local coffee shop is a good place to take a core sample of the national mood.  The thing you will hear a lot is “we’re all going to hell in a hand-basket.”  Or,to quote Chicken Little, “the sky is falling.” Continue reading

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