Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Listen to Foam Fan's Playlist

I removed this post and placed the Playlist at the bottom of the blog. Enjoy!

How much do you know about religion?

And how do you compare with other Americans? Take a short, 15-question quiz, and see how you do in comparison with 3,412 randomly sampled adults who were asked questions in the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. This national poll was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life from May 19 through June 6, 2010.

>>>Take the Quiz

>>>Read the Results

I am interested in seeing not only how you did, but also which questions made you stop and think, and why.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Greg Engert's 5 Fall Beers To Drink Now

Metrocurean asked DC brew authority Greg Engert for his picks on the best fall beers to drink now. Warning! His reply may induce drooling!

Greg Engert Picks Five for Fall

Friday, September 24, 2010

When did "my" music become grist for the Oldies Station?

Apparently, the definition of Oldies is the music grandparents remember jamming to when they were young. Three of my first cousins and many of my classmates are proud Grandparents! I am not quite ready to join the AARP generation, at least not mentally. But seriously, Talking Heads, U2, Bruce Springsteen and the Police are featured on BIG 100, the local Oldies station.  Really?

Recently I responded to one of those Facebook "tag" games where you list your favorite albums or whatever, and then you tag your friends to see their responses. Here is my entry:

My Fifteen Albums reflect a certain nostalgia for my own coming of age in the late 70s and early 80s, from a time when words were harder to find and music was a form of expression. This is not desert island discs, nor my all-time favorites, nor even the albums I would grab for a road trip mix CD.  It’s just the first fifteen albums that popped into my head, along with a brief explanation.
  1. Three Dog Night, Joy to the World: This will always be the first album I ever bought. Jeremiah was a bullfrog! I liked Credence Clearwater Revival and Pure Prairie League, too.
  2. Elton John, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy: Someone saved my life tonight. My 7th grade music teacher asked each student to name his favorite artist, and this was my immediate response. I was too young to understand the lyrics and I never appreciated Elton’s flamboyantly over-the-top, Liberace-esque outfits, but the music and the melody moved me. I was also into Neil Diamond at that time, and I tried to sing like him. I liked Rod Stewart, too.
  3. Styx, Grand Illusion: not my favorite of the big hair rock bands (That would be Journey, of course, but I also enjoyed Aerosmith, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, and even KISS), but this album stands out because it was the theme for prom my junior year. This 8-track may have gotten a bit of play in my gold Plymouth Satellite that evening.
  4. Rush, 2112: All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players.  References to Shakespeare and Ayn Rand make this concept album important, despite Geddy Lee’s often irritating voice. Tom Petty has an irritating voice, too, but his music never made me want to read Atlas Shrugged.
  5. Pink Floyd, The Wall: this is as close to psychedelic rock as I ever came, unless you count The Doors or some Beatles tunes (I am the Walrus). Speaking of the Beatles, “Right here on our stage tonight, …”
  6. The Beatles, Blue Album 1967-1970: Sort of a greatest hits compilation covering the Sgt Pepper / Abbey Road / Let It Be era. This is my way of getting more and better songs onto a list of 15 albums! I was too young to “discover” the Beatles. Their music inspired many fan clubs, hair styles, and Sunday night radio shows long before I tuned in. I bought both the Red and the Blue albums, and liked the Blue better.
  7. Cars, Candy-O:  This music is beat-driven and aimed straight at the hormonal impulses of the adolescent American male. I loved the Vargas cover art, right out of Playboy magazine, and tried to copy it in my Art class drawings. The music doesn’t pretend to be important. Candy-O, I need you so!  
  8. Elvis Costello, Get Happy!: After listening to Alison, Watching the Detectives, Red Shoes, and Pump It Up! on Jim Loisel’s mix tapes, I was hooked. This was the first EC album I bought—the first of many. Many, I tell you.
  9. XTC, English Settlement: And I’ve got one, two, three, four, five senses working overtime. When they said, “And all the world is football shaped,” I thought they meant it was oblong. Other danceable mentions: Romeo Void, Ramones, Joan Jett, B-52s.
  10. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run: The man, the myth, the legend. The best concert experience ever was Bruce at Notre Dame sophomore year. No opening act, just pure joy and energy for 2-and-a-half incredible hours.
  11. U2, Joshua Tree: Music can move your body, or it can move you mind. In the case of U2, it can do both! Consider also: REM, Joe Jackson, Squeeze.
  12. Ravel’s Bolero: Soundtrack for the Bo Derek movie, 10. It’s just fascinating to me that a piece of classical music can transport me back to my High School era bedroom wall, adorned with Farah Fawcett and Bo Derek posters and the Cheryl Tiegs collage I made from old Spiegl catalogs and Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition magazines.
  13. Van Morrison, Hymns to the Silence: I picked this 2-record album over The Philosopher’s Stone in a blatant attempt to jack up the quantity of art from this iconic artist. Van Morrison taught me that music is not about the record company and not even about the audience. In its purest form, it’s about the artist’s discovery of his own poetic soul. I want Be Thou My Vision played at my funeral.  
  14. Billy Joel, 52nd Street: This is the album I listened to over and over again with headphones, as I dreamed of a life very different from the one I would likely know if I remained in my small Midwestern town. The teen-aged fantasy of bright lights, big city, skinny Beau Brummel ties, Italian restaurants, jazz clubs, and Christie Brinkley.
  15. Police, Greatest Hits: Here’s another blatant move to jack up the signal to noise ratio. I don’t really have a favorite Police album, but I really like about a third of the songs on all of them!  Greatest Hits includes Roxanne, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Every Breath You Take, Walking on the Moon, and the song infinitely more interesting than its baby talk title would suggest, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.  
When I was younger, music was a driving force in my life—and a big chunk of my budget. These days it’s more of a Muzak soundtrack for myriad activities. I infrequently play music from my collection and rarely add to it. Instead, I spend a lot of time listening to classical, jazz, and talk programming on public radio stations. My Pandora radio stations (Elvis Costello and Roadhouse) play music I like even though I never have to change a CD. The only non-Elvis Costello CD I bought in the past two years is a recording of my oldest daughter’s High School Chorus concert.

Times change. Once I had a Columbia House membership and danced in front of MTV. Today, if not for the car radio pre-sets for my teen-aged daughters and their friends, various movie soundtracks, hints from Kyle (Scary Dave, Flight of the Concords) and Mary (Mason Jennings, Citizen Cope, Kings of Leon), and the occasional YouTube jag (I found 20 versions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah), I would not spend much time thinking about modern pop music.

I enjoyed reconnecting with my musical past. Isn't it funny how some things just stick with you for years? I look forward to seeing your Fifteen Albums!

How Often Do You Go to the Movies?

I love movies and always have. I love the art form, and the way a good story well-told can provide a transformative experience. I particularly enjoy movies shown in smaller art-house theaters. I saw Cinema Paradiso in a small theater years ago--one of the best movies ever and one of my favorite movie-going experiences. I will never forget climbing over the seat to sit next to a pretty girl in Star Wars, 1977. I'd like to watch all of the Gold Palm and Oscar movies, not because I need someone to tell me what's good but because I like lists and goals. But no, I do not often go to the Big 24-Screen Omni-plex Theaters. I don't care for the cost or the scene (people scarfing $8 tubs of butter-drenched popcorn and slurping 24-oz cokes while talking at the screen). Exceptions: I saw Avatar in 3-D. I watched Beer Wars, the simulcast event. I took my youngest to Up!, just before she realized that she is now too cool to be seen with Dad in the theater anymore. These days I prefer Jason Bourne or The Big Lebowski or anything by Cohen Bros or Robert Altman, a bottle of Mikkeller It's Alive!, my couch, my ridiculously huge TV, and if I am very lucky, a friend or three.

Also, reading is good--the movie is in my mind.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If you could clone yourself, would you?

  • RT: NO cloning allowed, it would only give me an excuse to do more.

    Me: Doing more is bad how?
  • RT: I often bite off more than I can chew and attempt to look good doing it. I'm an over achiever in the "joiner" department.
  • Me: I could employ an army of clones, if they would finish what I started and do it as well as I intended. In the morning, I would give each of my clones 10 things from my Do List, and then go sailing. Unfortunately, true clones would likely come back with 3 things done, and 30 new things added. Clones would help "me" get more done, but those curious bastards would also get "me" exponentially over-committed. Hmmm. I take your point.

Is calorie monitoring worth the effort?

Honestly, I want to believe that I can control my body composition by tracking calories in and out. I may not have a great track record at this game, but it makes sense to me. 

In her book Health at Every SizeDr. Linda Bacon says that calorie monitoring is focusing on the wrong thing. Her position is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting good health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).

I find this theory interesting and potentially useful, but not everyone embraces it. Fb friend Jane brought the following exchange to my attention, in which an irate reader named Ms. Harmony challenges Dr. Bacon by calling her everything but a charlatan. 

Dr Linda Bacon on calorie monitoring.

Dr Bacon's measured response to Ms Harmony's hostile question is a lesson in balance and poise. Ms Harmony is resistant and skeptical. That's commendable. She challenges the opinions of others in the quest for truth. Bravo! But Ms Harmony's spite-filled tone and method are not helpful. Rather than respond emotionally to the ad hominem attacks, Dr Bacon replies with science; not with advocacy nor opinion, but fact-based reason. She ends with an open door, inviting Ms Harmony to come back with facts if she wishes to continue the dialog. 

Masterfully done. Reason wins.

Rachel Maddow Slams GOP, Obama Administration Over Don't Ask, Don't Tell (VIDEO)

Maddox does a good job of shredding both the GOP's stated reasons for filibustering the Defense Authorization Bill and the administration's lack of leadership on this issue. 

That said, I differ on two points:

  1. I do not agree with Maddox that the point of DADT is "keeping gay people out." Rather, it is designed to prevent gay people from expressing their sexual orientation. (This is also problematic.) 
  2. Maddox cites public opinion polls but unfortunately does not mention polls taken from within the military which have different results. The difference in the results is not irrelevant to the issue! Many military leaders are concerned about the impact on readiness of changing policy in the midst of two wars. 

Maddox does not mention in this 12-minute spot the single most powerful comment I have heard on the issue. Adm Mike Mullen, CJCS, has courageously asserted DADT should be repealed because it forces gay service members to lie about who they are. It's not about Republicans and Democrats, or left vs right, or even gay or straight. It's about integrity.


Gallery of Harvest Moon / Autumnal Equinox Photos

There's even s bit of Jupiter in opposition in the mix. Click here > Photo gallery

OK Go - White Knuckles - Official Video

Another OK Go video goes viral. I enjoyed this video, and I support OK Go's cause of finding homes for shelter dogs. As you watch the talented puppies and jam to the Prince-ish / Flaming Lips-y music, listen for these lyrics: 

"Nothing doesn't ever change, but nothing changes all that much."

Monday, September 20, 2010

For Stargazers

JUPITER AT ITS BEST: Tonight, Sept. 20-21, Earth and Jupiter converge for their closest encounter in decades. The giant planet will soar across the sky at midnight, outshining everything except the Moon itself. Although big, bright Jupiter will remain close to Earth for weeks to come, tonight is the closest of all. (Via Fb friend Renee.)

Keep Moving Forward

God speaks to each of us as he makes us, 
then walks with us silently out of the night. 

These are the words we dimly hear: 

You, sent out beyond your recall, 
go to the limits of your longing. 
Embody me. 

Flare up like flame 
and make big shadows I can move in. 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. 
Just keep going. No feeling is final. 
Don’t let yourself lose me. 

Nearby is the country they call life. 
You will know it by its seriousness. 

Give me your hand. 
Rilke’s Book of Hours, I, 59

You Are the Work of a Committee

Insightful snippet from Odile W. Husband's recent interview with Elvis Costello:

OWH: What then are the craziest perceptions or greatest misconceptions people might hold about you?

EC: If you are on the stage for while, all you can hope is that these lie somewhere between the falsehood of slanders and the implausibility of compliments. 
We are all assembled from experience and circumstance and seen through the eyes of our loved ones and enemies alike. 
For all we know. Mrs. Husband, you too are the work of a committee, just a series of curiosities and enquiries, prompted with the whispers of lovers, the jealousy of rivals, the echo of your own loathing and dread or whatever else you pull out of that Hessian postal bag of yours.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Recap

Huskers win, ND plays well in a loss, Redskins get lucky in a win, Madeline's soccer team is 2-0 in WAGS league play winning Saturday and Sunday, Allison sang with the Fairfax High Chorus at the Patriot Day concert Sat night, my church called a new pastor, and the Captain and crew of the StacyLynn helped the Washington Sailing Marina raise $136,695 in the Leukemia Cup Regatta. Not too shabby. Plus, I managed to get a little done for work, school, and the house. And my new blog garnered 3 followers and over 500 page views in its first month!

Remember, reflect, renew: 9/11/2010

Introduction: I was in the Pentagon on this day 9 years ago. For me, 9/11 is still very much a day of solemn remembrance, reflection, and renewal. The time was 9:37 am, Tues, Sep 11th, 2001. In that split-second when the Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon, 184 innocent lives were lost. Many other people were injured, and countless relationships were torn. Aboard Flight 77 were 59 people including 6 crew members: all perished. We lost 125 people in the Pentagon, including 29 co-workers from my department. I cannot explain why I walked out and others did not.

I still think about friends who were killed, injured, or traumatized, and families who survived terrible loss, and people who sacrificed so much to respond to the attack and prevent a recurrence.  Nine years on and I admit that I am not yet ready to forgive and forget.  I have not seen enough change to think that the problems and threats that got us to that point have resolved or are no longer real.  In a world where extremists on both sides set the agenda, it is more important than ever for moderate voices to be heard. We still need to celebrate and encourage Patriots on this day. The goal is to push Armageddon off long enough for the next generation to live a full and happy life.

For me, the terrible shock of 9/11 is still personal, present, and pressing.

PERSONAL: On 9/11, I was in the Pentagon on the third floor directly above the point of impact, and somehow was lucky enough to walk out physically unharmed.  Many friends and colleagues were not so lucky.  We suffered 33% casualties in our department, 29 killed and another 48 injured to varying degrees, including one civilian employee who needed 9 months to recover from his burns.  In addition to co-workers who died, 2 of my co-workers and 2 close friends also lost loved ones in the attack.

I’ll never forget standing in the north parking lot, listening to the radio, and hearing the announcement that the FAA had closed all airports. That’s when I realized that our entire Nation was under attack. Not just the symbols of our financial and military might, but the entire Nation.

I'll never forget the horror as we hunkered around the TV at Colonel Masey’s house, as reality sank in and we realized our boss, General Maude, could not possibly have survived the impact of the jetliner that plowed right through his E-ring office.  

It took us two days of calling and worrying to get some kind of a headcount. During that entire time, fire fighters fought the flames, relief agencies set up tents, people lit candles, and families held out hope for survivors to be rescued.

Since that time, not a day has gone by that I do not recall 9/11:
·         I went to many funerals and comforted many grieving family members and colleagues.  It took 90 days to find, identify, and bury our dead.
·         I have served two tours in the Pentagon Ops Center, once at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) October 2001, and again at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) March 2003.
·         A month after the attack I was at the Pentagon when Pres Bush and SecDef Rumsfeld addressed the Nation. 
·         In October 2001, the Army 10-Miler was canceled due to security concerns, but I organized a team of runners who raised pledge money for the Family Support Group and we ran our own 10-Miler. 
·         I was invited to place a piece of colored glass in one of the stained glass windows that was ultimately installed in the Pentagon Memorial Chapel. 
·         In August 2002, we moved back into our 4th corridor offices.
·         I was present one year after 9/11 when Pres Bush and SecDef Rumsfeld again addressed the Nation at the dedication of the repaired Pentagon. 
·         I served a tour with Multi-National Corps-Iraq in Baghdad, 2007-2008.  
·         I have walked with the America Salutes You group. 
·         I was present in on 9/11/08 at the dedication of the Memorial to all who died in the Pentagon or on American flight 77. 
·         I have participated in annual ASA (M&RA)/DCS G-1 memorial services at the end of the 4th Corridor. 

On 9/11, that plane hit my family; this is intensely personal. 

PRESENT: Life goes on, true.  No one talks about the War of 1812 anymore; it’s ancient history.  But 9/11 is not ancient history; it’s still shaping events in the present.  It’s still shaping our State and Defense missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lives of so many Marines and soldiers from UN and NATO countries. 

Tuesday morning at 9:37 am Eastern Time.  For a year after 9/11, the alarm on my wristwatch would chime every Tuesday morning at 9:37 am, and I would say a prayer for the fallen.  After a year, I decided not to use that alarm as a reminder anymore because I was ready to move on.  Maybe I am healing.  But healing takes time, and I am not whole, not yet, not completely.  Nine years on and I still feel damaged. 

I need to heal—to remember, reflect, and renew.  Today is Saturday, so yesterday was a time of sharing with friends at work. In addition to pausing at 9:37 at the end of 4th corridor yesterday to see the photos of General Maude and all those in our department who died, I went down to the chapel to see the names of those 29 friends and colleagues inscribed on the wall.  I attended a memorial service. I walked out to the memorial and visit many of their benches.  I rode my motorcycle to Arlington National Cemetery and visited many graves.  Tonight, I will light candles read off the names of 29 colleagues plus 4 friends’ loved ones taken on that day.

I recently renewed my car’s annual safety inspection. The sticker now says good till 9 11. I glance at the clock. The time reads 9:11. I see Kathy in the hall, I think of her sister who died on 9/11. I get an email from Gunny Sigman, who lost his right leg in Ramadi. I see Facebook updates from Bob in Basrah, John in Baghdad, Klete in Kandahar, Dr J in Konduz, and Jeff, Julie, and Marion in Kabul. I want 9/11 to be remembered, and for Americans to be mindful of the sacrifices made that day.  I want people to continue to reflect on how 9/11 changed the world.  I want people to consider the lessons of 9/11 and to renew themselves to a pledge of preventing another attack on our soil. 

I am not locked in the past; 9/11 is still very present.  

PRESSING:   9/11 really matters.  It has changed my worldview. I sometimes wonder what quirk of fate allowed me to walk away from the Pentagon.  Why was I spared?  Why were Bud, Dave, Neil, Kip, Dennis, Jose, Deb, Gen Maude, and so many others taken?  For what purpose have I been shaped by this tragedy?  The lessons of 9/11 are hugely important because the future is at stake.  I have been spared.  I feel obliged to let my pain help others, to work toward a better, more peaceful future, and to remember the sacrifices of a few so that they shall not have died in vain.

9/11 impacted my scholarship. Part of the reason I matriculated with Walden University in 2001 is that I was drawn to their mission to create change agents for positive social change. It seems to me that improving security in an insecure environment is consistent with Walden University's mission to make the world a better place. Figuring out the proper response to 9/11 is key to the future of human civilization.  Are we going to find a way to get along?  Will balance be restored?  Will justice be felt?   Of course, reasonable people can disagree as to how to accomplish these goals, but the topic is worthy of debate, study, and applied research.

9/11 impacted my philosophy. A soldier must think about certain things that do not occur to most people in our blessed land: for what am I willing to fight?  For what am I willing to die?  Most terrifyingly, for what am I willing to actually kill?  Thinking seriously about the answers to these questions absolutely changes one's life.  All soldiers each have their own answers before they go to war.  In 2001, I had 17 years of service under my belt, mostly training under Cold War doctrine. I had an operational tour in Kosovo but never any combat deployments. Suddenly, war came to me. Most people would agree that war is wrong. My own children have told me that they do not approve of my profession. Someday, they will understand that peace is only possible in the shade of swords.
9/11 impacted my theology. One could wonder, where is God in all of this pain and suffering?  It was apparently God's will that nature should be random. That way, people have to respond to uncertainty, to face danger, to prevent disaster and yet react swiftly and effectively when prevention fails.  Such a response is what defines us as individuals, and as members of the human race.

If nature is random by design, then God does not control nature nor decide when to cause, or prevent (!) natural or man-made calamities.  God doesn't get involved with when or where the tectonic plates collide, or who survives the earthquake, the battle, or the football game. God is in the randomness of it, in the uncertainty of life.

Nature and human behavior and the terrible and unpredictable process of life is God-authored randomness.  Is God in the random outcomes, too?   How could a loving God allow evil people to prosper, and good, decent people to suffer?  Did I walk out of the Pentagon on 9/11 because I was spared by Divine intervention?  No.  I know too many good people who did not deserve to die that day to believe that I was spared on purpose or as the result of a plan.  I was spared because life is random, and I was lucky.  Others were not. It's as simple and as terrifying as that. 

9/11 impacted my politics. That good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people is not Divine injustice, that's the randomness of God's creation made manifest. Why? Given that fate is fickle, the question then is not, why did God deliberately allow 9/11? The question is, what sort of humanity will respond to these manifestations of uncertainty?  How can we prevent tragedies like these?  How can we help the family heal, and in the process become more fully human ourselves? 

I not only pray for the safety of my daughters every day, but I do what I can to protect them while teaching them how to deal with uncertainty and shape their own future through their choices.  That's what parents do.  That's what people do.  By the way I still believe in prayer because of the alignment that results--not because God is in heaven with Angels at the switchboard taking requests and deciding who will be granted his petition today.  My point is that prayer alone is not enough. A falling branch can crush an ant which, moments before its death, was doing everything right. Fate is fickle. 

Will my children live full and productive lives in freedom?  Or will they live in fear?  The best way for me to provide for my children is to fight extremism, promote understanding through education and cultural exchange, and protect rational boundaries if their encroachment is an existential threat. There are snakes. Not all snakes are bad. If a poisonous snake threatens me or my family, I have a hoe, and I know how to use it. I will do what I can as an individual, and I will join with other, like-minded individuals, to keep our defenses strong.

Conclusion: The trajectory of my whole life changed on that day.  I believe 9/11 changed history, not just for me, but for all Americans, and not just for our Nation but for the global community of nations.

For me, 9/11 is still very much a day of solemn remembrance, quiet reflection, and resolute renewal.  This is a time to remember the events of that day and the days that followed in the aftermath of the attacks.   Today is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by innocent victims, and by those few who took up arms in defense of freedom and democracy.  Finally, today is a day to renew my commitment to the ideals upon which our Nation was founded, and for which much blood has been spilled. 

It has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If so, then here's to those maintaining the vigil, on this Patriot's Day and every day.  I solicit your support for the families of the fallen and for all those who have served to prevent a similar attack on our soil.

Remember, reflect, and renew.

Until there is peace,


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The REAL Stuff White People Like

What is it that makes a culture unique? How are whites, blacksAsians, or whoever different from everybody else? What tastes, interests, and concepts define an ethnic group? And is there any way to make fun of other races in public and get away with it?

Here is some new qualitative research as interesting for its subject matter as for its methodology. What kind of preferences distinguish races and genders? To answer this, researchers parsed millions of words in the profiles of about half a million members of the popular dating site, OKCupid. The results are fascinating! 

Check it out here: the-real-stuff-white-people-like

This article was brought to my attention via Ze Frank and Facebook.  

Quran Burning is a Sacrilegious Slap in the Face of Christ - Jim Wallis - God's Politics Blog

Extremists on both sides are driving the agenda. Quran Burning is a Sacrilegious Slap in the Face of Christ - Jim Wallis - God's Politics Blog

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Writing Less Badly

I found this article interesting and helpful. I thank MFL for bringing it to my attention.

Duke's Prof. Munger offers 10 tips to improve one's writing. Actually, his orientation is on writing "less badly." In fact, humility before the task of writing is a recurring theme throughout his 10 tips.

How about you? Do these 10 tips cover the gamut, or do you see something missing? Please add your 11th tip in the comments section.

Head, Heart, and Hands

As a philosopher, analyst, planner, and strategist I have cultivated a life of the mind. Ideas and intellect appeal to me naturally, and so naturally this value is reflected in, and reinforced by, my behavior.  Interestingly, when I think about God and try to connect with God, I anthropomorphize this trait in my characterization of God as Ultimate Intelligence.

I have slowly come to understand that for most of my life I have undervalued the heart in deference to intellect. The heart is changing, fickle, breakable. True, but the human mind is also limited. When I am old, what will warm me is not the ideas I’ve shared but the relationships I’ve formed, and the acts of kindness and compassion given and received in the context of those relationships. Perhaps I will be remembered by some things I have written, but my true legacy will live in the hearts of the people I have loved.

What the hands do reflects what is happening in the heart and head. I have been leading from the head, and the skill of my hands reflects this bias. I can write, study, research, present, and use logic and math to convey ideas. This preference has produced patterns of overanalyzing and underachieving—paralysis through analysis. Even as my professional relationships at work and school were getting stronger, many personal relationships at home and in the community suffered from neglect. In truth it’s the heart that’s closest to God. God is Ultimate Intelligence, yes, but also Unfathomable Love, Sweetness, and Light.

Over time, I have developed the analogy of Head, Hands, & Heart to discuss ways we have of processing things in the world. This analogy is reflected in my Ba-gua Cube, which I described in an earlier post (Tues, Aug 10, 2010). I very much like the analogy because it has three components, and the components are related but distinct and progressive. In the three-tiered Ba-gua Cube model, the bottom row is Hands, the middle row is Head and the top row is Heart. In this sense, Heart represents not emotion but the flow of unity and oneness.

I have observed some different constructs, similar to Head, Hands, & Heart:
  • Army Leadership: Be, Know, & Do
  • Human Capital: Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities (+Other)
  • Areas of Activity: Pedagogical, Personal, & Professional
  • Capability Maturity Model: People, Technology, & Operations

My format for prayerful living has an adoration paragraph which describes God. It includes the reference to Ultimate Intelligence I mentioned earlier. Based on the pre-eminent heart insight and with these other constructs interwoven, I now have a deeper understanding of God: Creator God, Powerful Father, Nurturing Mother (Hands: what God Does, Skills, Professional, and Operations), Ultimate Intelligence (Head: what God Knows, Knowledge, Pedagogical, and Technology), and Unfathomable LOVE (Heart: God’s true and essential Being, Abilities—think of an elite athlete in flow, Personal, and People). My format for prayerful living had the progression right, coincidently.

I credit author Mark Nepo and friend Deborah Cusimano for the inspiration for this insight. After a recent conversation with Deb, I read the following passage from Mark Nepo and light bulbs started going on for me. Coincidence? I think not!

“The longer I live, the harder it is to discern between the stronger emotions. They all spill into each other where they begin. The longer I go, though, the more I can tell between not feeling and feeling. For this is all that seems to matter. Not feeling puts me on the sideline, makes the world black and white, and me, a dry shade of gray. Only feeling keeps me in the scene, keeps the colors wet.”

Nepo, M. (2000). The book of awakening: Having the life you want by being present to the life you have. See the entry for Aug 27, p. 281. Boston: Conari Imprint, Red Wheel / Weiser.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Response to the Viral Question of the Day


The text you see in large red font below came to me via email. I am posting this annotated response to detail all of the many ways this message is factually incorrect, logically flawed, and generally unhelpful. It worries me that despite these flaws, this email seems to be getting good circulation. One can find many versions of it floating around, posted on various blogs and websites. Similar versions are titled, “Can Muslims Be Good Americans?” Be prepared: some version of this will likely hit your inbox soon, if it hasn’t already.

Why do people read, believe, and forward garbage such as this? Why do thinking people see it and let it slide? In my mind, there is no greater threat to the prospects of my children growing old than the rantings of bigoted, red-necked, white Protestant morons.  I worry for an America where citizenship is defined by the likes of this author and the many people who agree—or do not strongly disagree—with this screed.

This is very interesting[2] and we all need to read it from start to finish and send it on to everyone[3]. Maybe this is why our American Muslims are so quiet and not speaking out about any atrocities[4]. Can a good Muslim be a good American?

This question was forwarded to a friend[5] who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years[6].  The following is his reply:

Theologically - no. . . Because his allegiance is to Allah, The moon god of Arabia[7].

Religiously - no. . . Because no other religion is accepted by His[8] Allah except Islam[9] (Quran, 2:256).

Scripturally - no. . . Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Qur’an.[10]

Geographically - no… Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.[11]

Socially - no. . . Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.[12]

Politically - no. . . Because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, the great Satan.

Domestically - no… Because he is instructed to marry four Women[13] and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him[14] (Qur’an 4:34).

Intellectually - no. . . Because he cannot accept the American
Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles[15] and he believes the bible[16] to be corrupt.

Philosophically - no. . . . Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Qur’an does not allow freedom of religion and expression.[17] Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist.[18] Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.[19]

Spiritually - no.. . . Because when we declare “one nation under God,” the Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as Heavenly father[20], nor is he ever called love in the Qur’an's 99 excellent names.[21]

Therefore, after much study and deliberation[22].... Perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country[23].  They obviously[24] cannot be both “good” Muslims and good Americans. Call it what you wish it's still the truth[25]. You had better believe it[26]. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

The religious war is bigger than we know or understand.[27]

Footnote: The Muslims[28] have said they will destroy us from within.  SO FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.[29]


[1] Nothing about being Muslim makes one inherently unfit for citizenship in America (or France or England). The same question could be posed of Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Wiccans, Catholics, Mormons, or bigoted, red-necked, white Protestant morons.
[2] Interesting? Hardly even worth my time, except letting it slide is like watching someone pour oil down the storm drain.  Such poisoning of the well has got to be stopped! I am mistrustful of authors who feel compelled to write in large, red text. I am skeptical of the ALL CAPS ploy: shouting does not confer truth. I also find poor spelling a punctuation to be serious distractions and indicators of weak logic and indiscipline. I have corrected most of the spelling and punctuation errors in this just to make it readable.
[3] Send to everyone? Any thinking person who sees this will want to expose it as an ignorant fraud. A scholar states the truth. Why is this author telling me what to do and how to do it? Who listens and obeys?
[4] This claim is pure speculation, and what is it based on? Maybe Muslims choose to be quiet because too many ignorant, red necked white Protestant morons carry shotguns? Anyway, who said they are quiet?
[5] A friend of whom? Why hide behind anonymity?
[6] What is the author’s qualification? Some people could live in Saudi Arabia for 20 years and learn absolutely nothing.
[7] The moon god of Arabia? That is patently offensive! Allah is God to some 1.5B people around the world, certainly not only those who live in Saudi Arabia. Muslims do not worship the moon! They worship the God of Abraham, whom they call Allah instead of Yaweh.
[8] Curious as to the punctuation here. Why is “His” capitalized?
[9] What does religious preference have to do with citizenship? In America, nothing!
[10] What does scripture have to do with citizenship? Is there a scripture question in the naturalization exam? Which scripture? The answer to Scripturally should be yes, because the Five Pillars of Islam are spelled out in the Muslim scripture; in other words, there is a scripture, but it’s irrelevant.
[11] How does this work? Muslims cannot be citizens of Africa or Indonesia or America because they face Mecca when they pray? Muslims can only be citizens of Mecca then? Even in Mecca, Muslims bow toward the ka’aba—and so they all bow in different directions! Again, this factor is irrelevant.  
[12] I call myself a Christian and I have many Muslim friends. The statement is patently false.
[13] False. Polygamy is allowed, but it is very uncommon and it is certainly not a requirement. Incidentally, why is “Women” capitalized?
[14] True, but taken out of context. By the way, the Bible says the same thing. Check out Deut 25:11, 12. By the author’s own logic, believers of the Old Testament are not fit for American citizenship, either.
[15] Show me where the Constitution is based on Biblical principles? A Muslim may certainly disagree with the Bible and still agree with and support the Constitution. To say otherwise reveals scant knowledge of Islam, the Bible, or the Constitution.
[16] Why is Bible not capitalized?
[17] We grant freedom of religion to citizens. Therefore, Muslims are free to worship as they wish. Therefore the claim is false.
[18] Shockingly ignorant. Turkey.
[19] False. Malaysia, Pakistan or Algeria.
[20] First, is that true? What does one want in a Heavenly Father? Number 12, The Maker of Order; 45, The All-Comprehending; 69, The All Powerful. Second, even if true, so what?
[21] Number 1, The All-Compassionate; 47, The Loving One
[22] By whom? I see 10 dimensions mentioned (Theologically, Religiously, etc.) but no study, no deliberation, and no attribution.
[23] For what reason? Some people would be fearful and suspicious of their own shadow.
[24] Obviously? What about any of this is obvious, except for the fear-mongering and weak logic?
[25] Such crystalline logic! It’s true because I said so, and if you don’t believe me you are just plain wrong. Such is the hallmark of the closed mind. I doubt that reason would sway this author.
[26] Or what?
[27] This is either a fairly meaningless statement, or the understatement of the century. Any war is bigger than non-combatants understand. 
[28] The Muslims said this? Which Muslims? Certainly some, but not all.
[29] Certainly true but it does not follow from the preceding sentence.
[30] Says who? I doubt any soldier or Marine with 5 years of service has not met a Muslim. I do not know any soldiers or Marines who would repeat this screed. To claim so (in all caps, no less) is a disgrace. That said, there are many people in the military, including some bigoted, red-necked white Protestant morons.  The point would be that even if a few soldiers or Marines feel this way, they do not speak for all soldiers and Marines any more than Islamic terrorists speak for all Muslims.

Final notes and philosophical musings:

1. I am aware that Muslims have had difficulty integrating into French and English society. I do not have blinders on, and there are issues to be dealt with. I would rather see discussions of those issues, and plans to deal with them pragmatically.

2. There are snakes in the world. Some snakes are poisonous. I don’t want to go out of my way to live with snakes, but I am not so afraid of the poisonous ones that I want to destroy all snakes, even the non-poisonous ones, and the snakes that pose no threat to me or my family.  If a poisonous snake comes near me or my family, I have a hoe, and I know how to use it.

3. A source for The Most Beautiful Names, complete with captivatingly beautiful calligraphy and citations from the Qur’an, is Warning! If looking at an Islamic website is enough to shake your Christian faith, don’t blame Islam or Muslims.