Judging involves Comparison

Ann and I talked this week about the connection between judging and comparing. I said something like "all judging involves comparison". When we judge we either compare something or someone to another version of it or them. When someone "breaks the law" their behavior is compared to standards codified by governments. In beauty pageants and contests like "America's Got Talent" participants are judged against each other. Our ideas of real injustice often embrace this concept. Consider this from philosopher Bertrand Russell:
"In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying."
When things happen to us we have a tendency to compare them with things that have happened to us in the past or things that have happened to others. I guess I find this type of comparing to not be very helpful. Even comparing myself to the person that I think that I should be is sometimes a bit discouraging. Perhaps the best form of comparison is the one we make with the past? Am I a better person today when compared with the person I was yesterday?

42 | ★★★★★★★★★★

Not sure that I can say anything that has not already been said about this excellent movie about an American legend and the man who had the courage to make him a Brooklyn Dodger. A few quotes from the movie that speaks to why I loved it:
"Your enemy will be out in force. But you cannot meet him on his own low ground."

"I want a player who's got the guts *not* to fight back."

"Maybe tomorrow, we'll all wear 42, so nobody could tell us apart."

"He's a Methodist, I'm a Methodist... And God's a Methodist; We can't go wrong."

"Someday you're gonna meet God, and when he inquires as to why you didn't take the field against Robinson in Philadelphia, and you answer that it's because he was a Negro, it may not be a sufficient reply!"

"We had a victory of fascism in Germany. It's time, time we had a victory over racism at home."
Both Chadwick Boseman, as Jackie Robinson, and Harrison Ford, as Branch Rickey, hit it out of the park acting wise. The story was so uplifting and speaks deeply to me on this 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. I absolutely loved 42 and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

The Insanity of Prayer

A recent article, titled “The definition of insanity” is the most overused cliché of all time, begins by saying:
"It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I can relate to that! I recently told a few friends that my prayer life often resembles this definition of insanity. I keep praying the same things and expecting a different result - or maybe just any result. One of my friends replied asking me why I even pray. I responded by saying that praying is like breathing for me.

When I speak of prayer as spiritual breathing I am reminded of how, in my twenties, I never prayed even though my wife Ellen was blind for 3 of those years. Then she was healed and I became aware of God. Eventually I prayed my first real prayer and it has become like breathing in the sense of I do it without thinking to do it. It comes naturally just like breathing. Yet some of the prayers are versions of insanity as I ask for the same things over and over and do not see answers. Even so, I find peace in knowing that God has heard me - and perhaps that it a good enough "answer".

Real life example of my insane prayer life: As many of you know my wife Ann has been disabled for six years now and I watch her struggle every day to do basic things as she gets in and out of her wheelchair. I pray all of the time for her and I sometimes express my frustrations to the Lord. I sometimes feel a bit insane as I pray and do not see improvements in Ann's health. So I wonder if the real challenge is to be content (through prayer) with the challenges and pain that she and I experience. Being content with pain? Now that sounds insane!! What do you think?

Where's Bob?

If you must know, I am on vacation. ツ

The image on the left is a clue.

Can you guess where I am?

Defensive Living

I was a bit of a bad driver when I was in the Army. Lost my post driving privileges for a while because of my speeding tickets. Fortunately, I was forced to attend a Defensive Driving course where I learned to handle myself better on the road. Here are a few things that I learned and how they might help us to live.

Minimize Distractions :: There are so many things that cause us to lose focus of what is important. Even 'good' things can keep us from the great things.

High Eyes :: Good drivers are always looking a few cars ahead of them. In like manner we should direct our attentions ahead and keep from looking back.

Blind Side Awareness :: Mirrors are not enough when we are making lane changes. In like manner we need to be aware of our blind sides as we navigate life changes.

Look Both Ways :: It is really important to know who is on the road with you. It is important to keep your (outer and inner) eyes open to the dangers that are out there.

Stay Clear of Bad Drivers :: I slow down when I see a reckless driver and try to put a lot of space between us. In like manner we should separate from reckless friends.

Don't Tailgate :: Give others space - both on the road and in life. Following too closely can get us in trouble in more ways than one. Be your own person.

Maybe I should be New York Bob?

Ever wonder how you sound to others? Try clicking the image on the left and take a test to determine
"What American accent do you have".

As you can see from my results on the left I have apparently not shed as much of that New York City accent that I thought that I had. Makes me remember how the folks I worked with at the church used to call me New York Bob when they didn't like something I said or did.

Let me know if you take the test and what your result was.

Tolerable Thursdays

I liked this funny Shoebox cartoon and had to chuckle when I read this quote:

    I wish you a tolerable Thursday. That's all any of us can hope for. -April Winchell

You never do hear anyone thanking God because it is Thursday.

Wandering in cyberspace...

Just in case you are wondering what I have been up to lately ... not been too inspired to blog ... here are a few of my recent and random comments on blogs and Facebook ...

Calling God bad (i.e. thinking that He is not good) is not the only reaction that we can have when bad things happen to us or our loved ones.

I look forward to the day when we who wait will once again run and not be weary.

Some think God to be evil because of the way that they envision God and His sovereignty. Guess I simply reject that view and that theology.

My thinking is that it is probably good for someone to examine whether a doctrine is heretical if they are actually trying to protect the flock that they lead.

Churches should not put membership requirements like tithing on people.

Sad that many who labor in churches and on the mission field give no thought for retirement until it is too late.

I think that poor people simply have not waited long enough for Reaganomics to kick in. #sarcasm

I do not know much about Ted Cruz. Is he or his father associated with Benny Hinn?

Not sure why but I guess it just never occurs to me to see God in a negative light during my dark valleys.

Methinks that we can probably thank the policies of Pelosi for the speakership of Boehner.

In my younger years I played the fool. Part of growing up is recognizing the ways that people of all persuasions, political and religious, manipulate us to achieve their own agendas.

Guess I am always a bit leery of people who want to be called 'pastor' outside of the church context.

I can relate to tough days. The cycle of grief sometimes catches us unawares.

Résumé Bots

Ann told me about an article that appeared in today's issue of the KC Star. It reminded me of why so few people ever get a response from potential employer. The article, titled "Fake resume for ‘Noah Z. Ark’ draws interview offers but is mostly ignored" chronicles a fake job hunter and how companies responded to him. Here is an excerpt:
When Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler founded a consulting company to help employers improve their employee recruiting processes, they decided to first find out what employers were doing wrong. So, for 10 years, their CareerXroads company has engaged volunteers to help a fictional job hunter apply online for jobs, posting resumes directly on the websites of “best places to work” companies.

This year, “Noah Ark” was the job hunter, presenting a resume that had great experience and buzzwords at the top but wound down into absurdity the longer one read it. Sadly, only a tiny fraction of the companies each year have recognized the obvious job hunter ruse, which would have been apparent had their resume screeners — computerized or human — read the entire resume. [read more]
My experience in looking for work in the early 2000s bears this out. I was applying for work all of time and very rarely ever got a response. It is a sad testament to the robotic ways that Corporate America interacts with potential employees.

The 403b Plan

Most of us have heard of, and many have participated in, a 401k. It is the plan that allows employees of companies to set aside a portion of their wages in a tax free retirement account. That said, did you know that there is a similar plan for employees of tax-exempt entities?
A 403(b) plan is a U.S. tax-advantaged retirement savings plan available for public education organizations, some non-profit employers (only Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) organizations), cooperative hospital service organizations, and self-employed ministers in the United States.
I have never understood why more churches do not offer 403b plans for their staff. Do you know of churches that do? If so, do they match a part of the employee contributions like companies do with 401k plans? And do you know if employees tend to contribute or not?

Why drag your work on Vacation?

Gotta love the crazy imagery of a guy in a sports jacket using his laptop on a beach. Speaks to how it is so hard for some folks to really separate themselves from their jobs when they are on vacation. In a piece titled "More adults work while on vacation than ever before" the folks at ZDNet speak to this phenomenon. Here is a clip from it:
Clinicians and psychologists recommend taking regular breaks from the grind to re-energize and regenerate. In fact, if you look at the word "recreation," you can see it as "re-creation." Unfortunately, courtesy of the wonders of the digital world, fewer of us are taking complete breaks from work. According to Human Resource Executive Online, the folks at TeamViewer did a study about how people work while on vacation.

According to TeamViewer GM Holger Felgner, 61 percent of employed Americans will "spend time on work-related tasks during their summer vacation this year." That's up from last year, when only 52 percent of employees said they'd be on the grind while on vacation. For digital natives, the millennials out there, 79 percent say they'll need to take a work-capable device with them on vacation. [read more]
I think that it begs the question of why do people act like this. Do you think that folks just really love their work and cannot take time away from it? Or is it more about fear (realistic or not) about losing their jobs or disappointing their employer? Or is it about employers putting demands on employees? Or is it simply about the web-connected nature of our corporate culture? What do you think? Can you relate? Is this the new normal for vacations?

Debt is not a Tool

Every now and then I am in the car when Dave Ramsey is on the air. Love his practical no-nonsense advice to folks who call his radio show asking for help to get out of debt.. A while back he shared "7 Characteristics of Debt-Free People" on his blog. I thought that I'd share a few nuggets from it here ...
  • Impulsive, impatient purchases are debt’s best friend.
  • People who decide to ditch debt for good realize that debt isn’t a tool.
  • People who are getting out of debt don’t care what others think.
  • You know you’re on the right track when your broke friends are making fun of you.
  • Materialism can affect any of us—rich or poor.
  • Becoming debt-free isn’t about stocking a garage full of cars.
  • At some point, people who become debt-free decide that enough is enough.
I can relate to many of these things. I have often said that I have learned to be patient, wait out purchases and buy things when they are no longer cool. I have almost always bought used cars. That said, I do think that most Americans, including me, fight materialism and the desire to buy things - and often things that they cannot afford.

Wheelchair Kid Talk

A few excerpts from 10 Things Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities ...

"When it comes to staring, kids get a “Get of Jail Free” card."

"The world is full of people who are different."

"Letting them know we can do many things on our own is a huge lesson for kids."

"Our chairs aren’t glued to our butts."

"Our wheelchairs aren’t oversized strollers."

"Fear, shame or embarrassment is not what you want your kids to feel in the presence of disability."

"Drive home the notion of a wheelchair as being an empowering object, not one that symbolizes helplessness."

"Feeling nervous, awkward or afraid around people with disabilities will only make your kids feel the same way."

"While some of us do have some awful chronic pain, letting your kids know a disability doesn’t necessarily equate to physical pain can take a definite load off their mind."

"My 6-year-old niece is a great example. She’s still too young to understand the concept of a spinal cord injury, so I just tell her my legs just don’t listen to me anymore, and she understand it completely."