Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Why we have cultures of silence

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment


I am reading Crucial Conversations–moving very slowly through it and it is excellent.  They provide video links to illustrate what they are saying in the text (a bit awkward if you are reading on a kindle) and have even sent me other articles to read. I just finished their Eliminating Cultures of Silence, a position paper by Crucial Conversations and have clipped a number of sections out of it into Evernote.  Following are some four reasons they suggest in this paper as to why a culture of silence may exist in your (or in my own) organization.

1. You observe a potential problem, but you figure the possible calamity isn’t a sure thing. It’s not like death or bankruptcy is imminent; they’re just possibilities.

2. Nobody else seems concerned and you don’t want to sound like an alarmist.

3. You figure even if you do speak up, nobody will actually change anything—the organization is too mired in bureaucracy.

4. Finally, it seems like a sure bet that saying something will damage your career. You would be delivering a really unpopular message (“I think you need to re-examine the launch—at the cost of fifty million dollars.” “I think we need to confront the senior execs and maybe send them to jail.” “I think the doctor is wrong and needs to follow my ideas.”). And messengers get shot.

This inability to bring up touchy, controversial, or unpopular issues lies at the heart of every culture of silence.

Which of these is most problematic for you and your organization.

How to be a better man

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Outstanding post  on lessons learned about how to be a better man from the now defunct tv show Friday Night Lights.  Here are the main points but read the entire well written article

  • Relish the underdog role
  • A man needs to come to peace with his father
  • Nurture manliness
  • A man seeks redemption
  • Texas forever (remember your roots would be my paraphrase for those not from Texas)
  • A man’s closest ally is his wife
  • A man needs a team
  • Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose (When you have a clear conscience and play with everything you have, you can never lose)



I have been able to live everything I have believed

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Great interview here with Eugene Peterson.  Thanks to David Hayward

Quote above is from Peterson.

I wish I had been a better father

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is someone on the road to redemption and I hope he makes it!

If you are a basketball fan, you will remember Dennis Rodman–his defense, his rebounding, his flamboyance!  I have not followed his life after basketball but I am guessing that it has been rough–likely much of it self-inflicted.  Just watched his rambling acceptance speech into the basketball hall of fame (thanks to the heads up by Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like) and I value his honest and hard words about his failure to be a good son, a good husband and a good father–many of these words could be my own as well.  How moving to hear him describe the men in his life! I pray that God may give Dennis grace to continue to live a transformed life even as I pray that for myself.

How to Lose with Dignity

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

from Istockphoto

In a most unusual post, Brett and Kate McKay write about how to lose with dignity and celebrate with grace. Beginning with the gracious way the American Civil War ended between Generals Grant and Lee, ending with the victory of Churchill over Chamberlain in 1940 and with American football in between, the Mckay’s come up with the following principles.

Accept responsibility for the loss.

Bow out gracefully.

Acknowledge the winner.

But a failure to acknowledge the victory of your fellow competitor shows a lack of respect for him; a man can be your rival, but you can still admire his courage and his fight, and the fact that on this day, he fought harder. Sulking away also shows a lack of discipline on your part—you are so overwhelmed with anger and grief at your loss that you cannot think of anything else but your own pity. Being able to control your feelings in that moment is the mark of strength and self-control, not to mention perspective.

And in some cases, even support the winner.

Learn from the loss and move on.

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For the foodies, global nomads and life long learners

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks to Tyler Stanton for the link to the following videos

For the foodies in my life

For my fellow global nomads

And finally, for all of us committed to life long learning!

The new etiquette

August 2, 2011 1 comment

After reading a book summary on Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, I copied a few quotes.  I am not saying I agree with everything she writes (especially since I have not read her entire book) but she is touching on some tender topics.  Looks to be a helpful analysis along the line of The Shallows.  I have some great stories that come to mind after reading her quotes but I better refrain for the sake of my own safety and because I could incriminate myself!

  • “In the new etiquette, turning away from those in front of you to answer a mobile phone or respond to a text has become close to the norm. When someone holds a phone, it can be hard to know if you have that person’s attention. A parent, partner, or child glances down and is lost to another place, often without realizing that they have taken leave.” (161) “
  • “Texting makes promises that demand: the person will receive the message within seconds and will attend to it immediately. Texting is pressure. “Longed for is the pleasure of full attention, coveted and rare.”
  • The new etiquette is efficiency. People reassured at a distance. On the phone they might say too much. Things could get “out of control.” A call feels like an intrusion. (190)
  • We send so much and receive so much from so many, that we are ‘consumed with that which we are nourished by.’ (207)
  • “Connectivity becomes a craving… We are stimulated by connectivity itself. We learn to require it, even as it depletes us.” (227)
  • The cell phones are a symbol of physical and emotional safety. This is a new nonnegotiable: to feel safe, you have to be connected. The phone is comfort.
  • “Technology helps us manage life stresses but generates anxieties of its own. The two are often closely linked.” (243)
  • As we try to reclaim our concentration, we are literally at war with ourselves. Yet, no matter how difficult, it is time to look again toward the virtues of solitude, deliberateness, and living fully in the moment.” (296)

From Alone Together by Sherry Turkle.  Quotes courtesy of book notes at

Sex is the bait, not the hook

July 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Trying to figure out what Chesterton meant by the following:

“In the last resort the exaggeration of sex becomes sexlessness . . . Sex is the bait and not the hook; but in that last extreme of evil the man likes the hook and not the bait . . .”

A friend suggests the following:

  1. The bark is louder than the bite–we talk more and act less;
  2. When we do act, we are not sure what to do with it–like a dog running after a bus;
  3. Sex is really a false sense of intimacy, we want intimacy more than sex; we think it is the end but really it is a means to the end (intimacy)
  4. We are screwed and screwed up, that why Jesus came to save and sanctify us.

Reminds me of Rob Bell’s Sex God in which he links sex with spirituality saying we think sex is about this but it is really about thatthat being God.  Here is my post on that book.

I like the following quote from Gary Thomas’ Pure Pleasure which I just finished,

If I find my pleasure in Starbucks alone, I am at the mercy of a company that may go out of business. If I seek my pleasure in sex alone, I make myself vulnerable to a fading, aging body—as well as to the cooperation of a partner. If my pleasure is in a business, I remain subject to the whims of my consumers. But if my life has been a single journey always pointing me to find my fulfillment in God—urging me to see each earthly pleasure as a reflection of his kindness, goodness, and love—then my ultimate pleasure has become more certain than anything this world can offer.

So what do you think?

Music from around the world

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Posted this two years ago but after listening to these two music videos today, they are so good that they deserve another post for anyone who may have missed them. Enjoy Bono (on war) and other less famous but equally talented musicians!  Playing for change are always adding new videos–check them out here

A couple of early and favorite songs from playing for change.  Great fun!!

Celebrating the history of Y’all

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

You can take the boy out of Texas but you can’t take the Texas out of the boy.

Over our twenty-five years in a multi-cultural organization, I thought my speech patterns are not a dead give-a-way that we were from the southern U.S.

But when looking for a word to invite a group of people over to the house, nothing quite beats Y’ALL as in “Hope we see y’all on Saturday night.”  Or for that matter, y’all is the best when saying goodbye to a group as in “See y’all next week.” At least I don’t say, “howdy y’all” anymore–not that I ever did in the first place. But now I read that y’all likely originates from dear old Scotland and Ireland. Maybe that is why we get along with the Irish?  So, now, I can stand tall  when I say, “Y’all come back now.” Y’all has quite a proud heritage.

For more, check out “The Remarkable History of Y’all” on the Dialect Blog. As they say, “One word. Two continents. Three shores. Four centuries. Five separate dialects. Wow.”


Who has the most religious knowledge in America?

April 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Americans could only answer correctly 50% of the questions on a very simple religious knowledge survey.  Three main areas on the survey: knowledge of the Bible, knowledge of other religions and knowledge about role of religion in public life of America. Interesting stats

  • Athiests/agnostics, mormons and those of the Jewish faith have a higher level of overall religious knowledge than do protestants
  • Mormons and white evangelical protestants know more about Christianity than do other groups
  • Jews and athiests/agnostics have a higher level of knowledge about other faiths and about religion in public life than do other groups

Interesting paragraph on bible reading

  • Many Americans are devoted readers of Scripture: More than a third (37%) say they read the Bible or other Holy Scriptures at least once a week, not counting worship services. But Americans as a whole are much less inclined to read other books about religion. Nearly half of Americans who are affiliated with a religion (48%) say they “seldom” or “never” read books (other than Scripture) or visit websites about their own religion, and 70% say they seldom or never read books or visit websites about other religions.

Here is a link to the executive summary of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey.

Click here If you want to take a quiz representing an abbreviated form of the questions asked.  I scored 87%, missed a question on public prayer being allowed in America and one other.

Providing a God oasis in a world full of pain

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Untrammeled Oasis by Guy Tal

NOTE: Following is an update on a previous post.

Does holiness provide refuge or bring condemnation? Gary Thomas in The Beautiful Fight says, “A holy man or woman is a spiritual force, a “God oasis,” in a world that needs spiritually strong people.”

The world needs holy men and women because it needs people transformed by God.

Isaiah 32:2 says, “Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” Thomas writes the following:

A holy man or woman is a spiritual force, a “God oasis,” in a world that needs spiritually strong people. When the winds of turmoil hit, such people become shelters; their faith provides a covering for all. By their words and actions, by the ways they listen and use their eyes to love instead of lust, to honor instead of hate, to build up instead of tear down, holy women and men are like streams of water in the desert, affirming what God values most. When the heat of temptation threatens to tear this world apart, godly men and women become like the shadow of a great rock. These God oases carry Christ to the hurting, to the ignorant, to those in need. They will be sought out–and they will have something to say. 48

A painting for your Easter reflection

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Mark Buchanan mentioned Resurrection by Piero della Francesca as his favorite painting of the resurrection.

Confronting our cult of happiness

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Planet Ceperley by Tripleman

Can our preoccupation with happiness ever be satisfied? Rob Moll in The Art of Dying: Living Fully Into the Life to Come suggests that “to live well we must come to grips with our death.” Moll writes,

“I would say our avoidance of death, far from being an advance, is false, costly and alienating. We, the church, need to recover the art of dying. We need to reacquaint ourselves with death. We need to help people die well and mourn well. We need to lament. We need to allow dying Christians to be just that dying Christians, who can rail against, but also prepare for, death. We need to make space for the exhausting, sad work of mourning.”

Talk about a counter-cultural book!

Paul Bruckner in Condemned to Joy describes how we have moved far away from the idea of preparing for a good death.  He overstates his case when he writes about the past, to “wish for earthly happiness would be a sin against the Spirit.”  But he is right on when he describes life today.

Modern medicine began to change things, “If I could relieve pain simply by ingesting some substance, there was no need to have recourse to prayer to feel better.”

He describes how the pursuit of happiness became codified in the American Declaration of Independence. In recent years, “the right to happiness” became “the duty of happiness.” Bruckner gives two main reasons.

First, with the widespread use of credit, we had no reason to defer gratification. “But credit changed everything; frustration became intolerable and satisfaction normal; to do without seemed absurd. We would live well in the present and pay back later.”

Second, with an increasing emphasis on individualism, I am now responsible for my own happiness. Bruckner writes, “We now owe it to ourselves to be happy, and we are expected to display our happiness far and wide. . . We now find ourselves guilty of not being well.”

Contentment has become “the fruit of a personal decision. This belief in our ability to will ourselves happy also lies behind the contemporary obsession with health.”

Because our quest is unattainable, “happiness is surrounded by anxiety. . . Our hedonism is not wholesome but haunted by failure. However well behaved we are, our bodies continue to betray us. Age leaves its mark, illness finds us one way or another, and pleasures have their way with us.”

Bruckner appeals for a “renewed humility” to counter this “Western cult of happiness.”  Moll challenges Christians to return to our roots and help one another prepare for, not fear death. Moll writes “Because we instinctively want to avoid it, to turn our face away, it is good to look death in the eye and constantly remind ourselves that our hope is in God, who defeated death.”

Reading the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible also confronts the current cult of happiness and will help us prepare for death.  May we live well so that we may die well!

Why storytelling is missional

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Storytelling is an old form of communication. But it is not just for oral cultures.  Even our written cultures connect with storytelling.

In Mark Miller’s Experiential Storytelling: (Re)Discovering Narrative to Communicate God’s Message, Miller is attempting to motivate and model this  old communication form so that the church can reach today’s postmodern generation. He writes because he believes there is much at stake for the church. Listen to Miller,

“I believe in the church. Christ died for it, and the Spirit moves it. Further, it is the primary instrument God has chosen to use on earth. If that is not a reason to be more creative in our communication, then I am at a complete loss. . .I also hope that you can be a part of creating a culture of creativity in your church that will eliminate the restraints on innovation.” 75

You can read my full review of Miller’s book here.

A dream Jesus did not have

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I think it is safe to say that Jesus would never have imagined much less dreamed about how his name is being marketed today!

designer-jesus by David Haywood at

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Why go to church?

December 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Because of the problems with the church as it currently exists, many seem to be opting out of attending today, preferring to meet with a small home group. That has its own set of problems!  A Time article, cited at the Kruse Kronicle, suggests that a reason to go to church is to build relationships. And those relationships will improve your well-being.

As important as this is, there must be other reasons to go to church.  Question: why do you go to church?

Update on Monday morning: I did go to church yesterday. Didn’t get much out of the message but the total sum of the service–worship, prayers, people, helped me to remember that I am not alone in this faith journey and the service led me into the presence of God, who is wholly other. I needed that! So, I guess in the end, it is all about God and that is the way it should be.

Challenges for the church in song

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

“Fighting like the devil for the prince of peace” goes the song “Piece of Me” by David Wilcox which I just downloaded.  In the song, Wilcox talks about the “body of Christ being torn limb from limb,” unfortunately from within.

Here is a link to another song, called Little Fish which speaks sharply to the church’s involvement in politics.

Filling the emptiness that already exists

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Perhaps the internet, technology and social networks only “fill the hole” that already exists in the lives of people today?

Hippies, goat ropers or rednecks and jocks were the supposed three main categories of people during my senior high class more years ago than I care to admit. Things have changed today! Today, the social types are “texter and gamer, Facebook addict and YouTube potato,” at least according to “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” by Matt Richtel in the NY Times.  In this article, he references a number of studies, many of which warn about what today’s technology is doing to the minds of people’s brains. He does provide a few positive perspectives in which educators who have embraced technology are reaching students.  You can check out previous posts I have done on this topic here and here and here.

After being without internet connection for three of the past five weeks and not doing any blogging for a month, Richtel’s article caught my attention or what little attention I have left!  During that time, I have read half a dozen books (most on my kindle) so I guess I can still concentrate. A few years ago, someone said I was addicted to the internet–after reading Richtel’s article, I have a long way to go to catch up with the addictions of the young people in his article. I  have missed the process of writing. It does help me to focus my thinking. So, even though making this post has taken me more than an hour, I hope to start blogging again on a regular basis.  I do glance at FB a few times a week but post on it more frequently since my blog posts are forwarded there and I post from my kindle to FB. I am really not a heavy internet user either–to be honest, I can quickly get bored browsing the internet.  Rather than clicking on another link, I close the computer. So maybe I am not exactly a normal user??  My wife may beg to disagree

A few selected quotes from Richtel’s longish article:

On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Unchecked use of digital devices, he says, can create a culture in which students are addicted to the virtual world and lost in it.

“I can text one person while talking on the phone to someone else.”

Escaping into games can also salve teenagers’ age-old desire for some control in their chaotic lives. “It’s a way for me to separate myself,” Ramon says. “If there’s an argument between my mom and one of my brothers, I’ll just go to my room and start playing video games and escape.”

He says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice.

“Video games don’t make the hole; they fill it,” says Sean

“Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”

Without the Internet, “I also wouldn’t know what I want to do with my life.”

“I click and something happens,” he says, explaining that, by comparison, reading a book or doing homework is less exciting. “I guess it goes back to the immediate gratification thing.”

“It’s a catastrophe,” said Alan Eaton, a charismatic Latin teacher. He says that technology has led to a “balkanization of their focus and duration of stamina,” and that schools make the problem worse when they adopt the technology.


Truthfulness or truthiness?

October 17, 2010 1 comment

For Stephen Colbert, truthiness not truth best describes what is happening in American politics and I suspect in the reporting of American politics. Colbert coined the word in 2005 since, what he was “driving at wasn’t truth anyway, but a mere approximation of it — something truthish or truthy, unburdened by the factual.” (from Ben Zimmer’s article Truthiness in the NY Times).  Even though Colbert no longer feels the need to use the word truthiness, it became the 2005 Word of the Year.

Zimmer interviewed Colbert about truthiness in a subscriber only article on Virtual Thesaurus. According to Colbert:

“It’s really about feelings rather than thought. That’s really what the debate is about — it’s like what feels right to you, as opposed to what you know is right.”

And it’s not even really about truth. I’m not asking people what truth is, because truth is too easily associated with fact. So I said, “Well, it’s not truth. It’s like truth. It’s truthish. It’s truthy.” But I needed a noun. So I said, “It’s truthiness.”

You know, “truthiness” sounds wrong, because truth should be absolute — even though we all have truths and mine isn’t the same as yours. “What is truth?” said Pilate. But even though we all have our own truths, they are absolute. By saying “truthiness,” you’re implying that what you’re saying is only an “ish” of the absolute.

What I liked it about it was, it names that what I’m saying is not accurate. It names that what I’m saying is not really true. But what’s really true is not important.

I think if you just look around you, I doubt that many people in American politics are acting on the facts. I think everybody on both sides is acting on the things that move them emotionally the most. And that is the most successful way to behave. By keeping fear alive, we are keeping truthiness alive at the same time. Action out of emotion is all that truthiness is about — making your decisions based upon how you feel. Right now, it seems like fear is the strongest emotion that motivates us.”

Back to Zimmer’s NY Times article, “Truthiness, Colbert pointed out, is in no need of restoring, since it continues to define those who appeal to raw feelings at the expense of facts. “I doubt that many people in American politics are acting on the facts,” he observed ruefully. “Everybody on both sides is acting on the things that move them emotionally the most.”


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