Monday, December 30, 2013

Authors & Books that have shaped my life

Some friends tagged me on facebook with their best reads/must reads.  I'm following their lead here - with a little more by way of explanation.

If this is supposed to be a "Top 10 list" - I failed.  I had to start with the first three, though I haven't read them in years.  They shaped my teenage identity and set a path and trajectory for my life.

The next, Top 10 (4. to 13. on my list) are presented more or less in sequential order for "when I met them" in my life and how they shaped a trajectory or identity or rame to my sense of self today.  [Ironically, I don't remember a single textbook from my undergraduate college experience.  This has caused me to realize that as a professor, I would do better (and I try already!) to introduce students to good authors, more than just having them read certain books.  Good authors will shape my student's lives for a lifetime, where they may forget a particular textbook or title.  I think I do this already - but I'll be more intentional about it now.]

In many ways - these authors have been "conversation partners" and "mentors" to the ideas that frame my existence.  It's quite a powerful thought, really - and the reason I thank Walter Brueggemann every year when I see him - truly!

Then, a few that don't make the "top" list and yet they have been influential in my life.  Some day my kids might read this, and want them to "know how I became me," so I'll share here. 

"Top" list . . . ordered both by sequence in my life's experience and influence.

1.  Knowing God by J.I. Packer
2.  Holy Sweat by Tim Hansel
3.  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
4.  Walter Brueggemann (everything) - Old Testament Theology:  Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy
5.  Paul Hanson (many) - The People Called: The Growth of Community in the Bible
6.  God: A Biography by Jack Miles
7.  Rene Girard (many) - his ideas framed the basis of my dissertation.
8.  Walter Wink (many )- Naming(Unmasking)[Engaging] the Powers
9.  Unveiling Empire:  Reading Revelation Then & Now  by Wes Howard Brook
10.  Wendell Berry (everything)- Jayber Crow
11.  Ched Myers (many) - Binding the Strong Man
12.  Willard Swartley (many) - Covenant of Peace
13.  N.T. Wright (everything) - The Resurrection of the Son of God

Notables for many reasons & interests:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"I'm a little bully" - so says my mom!

When I was a teenager I discovered a box of audio tapes my parents used to record and send to my grandparents.  (Long-distance phone calls were too expensive!) 

In one audio recording, my dad asks the 3 or 4 year old me, "Marty, what's your shirt say?" 

I reply, "Jesus loves me." 

Dad snickers mildly and says, "No, Marty!  I think it says, 'I'm a little bully.'" 

I retort that it says 'Jesus loves me' and the conversation shifted gears.

Curious about this as a teen, I questioned my mom.  I let her listen to the audio and asked her to explain. 

She replied matter-of-factly.  "Oh, your shirt said, 'I'm a Little Bully.'  I just told you it said, 'Jesus loves me.'"

Thanks Mom!!!

Still trucking . . . stewardship. Rich Dad / Poor Dad.

It's been over 18 months since my pick-up started making an awful noise.  The engine sounds like it's going to drop out at any moment.  Still running, getting me from place to place when I need it.

It's been a great lesson to my kids about many things, including the fact that when something still works, it still works!  Sounds silly, I know, but our society is so prone to trash things that have only minor defects.

Several months ago I helped my daughter find and pay cash for a $900 car.  It's far from perfect, but she paid cash for it and owes no money to any for it.  It is her car.

Many years ago I read Robert Kiyosaki's book - Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!    The book has many less than favorable reviews but one gold-mine I got from the book - is a lesson I inherently learned in my childhood home, but not so clearly stated.  I understood it as this, "Buy assets, not liabilities." 

Assets, as I've taught my children, are relatively rare in the scheme of total purchases.  Most things in life are not assets.  An asset in this category of stewardship that I've taught is something that maintains its value or grows in value.  An example:  An antique dresser might cost $350 to purchase - but in most cases will always be worth that $350, and may even appreciate to be worth $500. 

Liabilities are everything that loses value.  Really bad liabilities are things that lose value and also take from other sources of value.  Nearly everything fits this category.  Even the $2.00 pants I buy at goodwill, while I buy them cheap, by the time I am done with them, they're worth $0.00.  Computers, even if they allow for a certain amount of productivity and gain in professional work, the computer itself is still a liability.  It can be used to gain income, so functions to help with other asset growth, but it is still a liability as an item. 

We all buy things and most of what we buy are liabilities, but if we only buy liabilities, we will forever be using our money for things that depreciate, never growing in any categories of "wealth" with assets. 

My daughter's $900 car is a liability.  It will not appreciate in value.  But, as a liability, it functions better than other potential liabilities because (1) it prevents her from having greater liabilities like a $200 (or more) a month car payment for month after month after month - with interest!  (2) Because of it's age and condition, insurance for it is a smaller cost than a more expensive car, saving cash assets.  And, (3) compared to a car that cost say $4000.00, if her $900 car was wrecked in a car accident, the most she can ever lose is $900.  [Of course, if the $900 car started consuming oil, or started needing major repairs, than it could begun to cost more than $900.00 in which case it might be too great a liability and need to be sold.]  As a result, my daughter gets to save more money each month from her job, the cash is an asset, that she can apply toward other potential assets or save toward a wise purchase with the next vehicle (another liability, but one that can be stewarded wisely).

We have to own things and we have to buy liabilities, but we don't have to purchase bad liabiliteMs and we can measure and think through the extent of how we steward resources toward liabilities.

Had I rushed out to get a "new" pick-up 18 months ago - I would have immediately lost money in the purchase and my insurance would have increased, costing me more out of pocket expense.  eanwhile, I've been saving some moneyso that when the pick-up truck finally does need major repair - I'm financially set to make the next purchase I need to replace it, with cash.

I'm still trucking in my pick-up and still trying to teach my kids how to be good stewards.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas I know . . .but Childermas? December 28th Holy Day!

I share so that people will be mindful of what "Childermas" is, and considerate to think and pray for vulnerable children alongside American celebrations of Christmas prosperity!  (Excerpt edited to reflect 2014 dates - from )


Brought to you by the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership
Childermas is a feast on the church calendar, that remembers the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod. It it celebrated on December 28th every year, and also weekly - on the day of the week that Dec 28th falls on, in any given year. In 2014, that is Saturday.

Recently a painting by one of the Dutch masters called Massacre of the Innocents was sold for a record-breaking price at an art auction. It is puzzling why "a violent painting, depicting Roman soldiers knee-deep in butchered babies, carrying out King Herod's edict" would fetch $116 million at a London auction, a record high for an Old Master and one of the top ten largest prices ever paid at an auction? Especially in a world where innocents are dying in their millions of AIDS! Of the 26 million people who have already died of AIDS (more than all the wars of the 20th century combined), 5 million were children. If we put our treasure where our heart is, then something has gone desperately wrong, somewhere...

When God pitched his tents and dwelt among us, he became a baby - fragile and vulnerable. Escaping Herod's despotic regime, he grew up as a refugee - in Africa. "A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

Here is a bold and unprecedented suggestion... especially for those who are protestants and have a tendency to steer away from the "bells and smells" of high church tradition. Just out of solidarity, then, couldn't we set aside Thursdays in some special way, between now and December 28th? Not just to remember the dozens who were slain in Bethlehem by a despot, but to remember millions who are dying in our time because of various factors - including state indifference and recalcitrant leaders who do not role-model what it takes to stop the spread of HIV infection and thus of the AIDS pandemic.

Here are some ways to do this:
  • pray on Thursdays for children, orphans, and especially infants dying of AIDS
  • every Thursday, do some special reading about this (start with Googling "Orphans" and "Africa" and you get quite a few items from CNN, BBC, the World Bank, etc.)
  • make every Thursday the day that you engage at least one other person to raise awareness about this issue
  • go without lunch and instead make a gift to a ministry for OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) like C4L's
  • dare it be said? What about fasting on Thursdays? This is more than solidarity - it engages the powers
Volunteering is a mode of giving that has to be encouraged more and more, in the light of "capacity shrinkage" in Africa, and the increasing need for "capacity replenishment". But it is concentrated intensely around a trip overseas, at a particular season...

Observing Childermas could be a complementary strategy; a "long war" to borrow an all-too-familiar phrase. Are you ready to take action that is on-going and proactive? In favour of innocents who are either orphaned when their parents are taken by a pandemic through no fault of their own, or worse yet, born with AIDS? When top political and cultural figures promote behaviours that fail to dampen the spread of infection, and behind it the death phase of the pandemic, and the deluge of orphans.There are more and more people who want to do something more substantial than just making a donation, but they don't know how. Here is one suggestion - choose a way to observe Childermas, and stick with it.

Wouldn't it be great if this became a mass movement!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More than ever . . .

More than ever, I feel a deep gnawing pain in my personal sense of life.  It seems to me that more American Christians are more deeply committed to Capitalism & Acquisition, than they are committed to Giving & Discipleship.

The Season of Christmas calls us to celebrate a child, who becomes a man so that as a man he can reject titles, power and wealth. Despite the Magi bringing presents and wealth (which was their worship of this King - their demonstration of self-giving), Jesus is never associated with monetary wealth, tangible "things" or personal property and even describes himself as an itinerant, poor, teacher.

On this Christmas Eve in 2013 as I reread the story of "peace on earth" and "joy that will be for all people" (Luke 2:8-20), I'm reminded of the disturbing violence and pain that exists in our world right now!  From Syria to Sudan where open conflict is rife - to homes in my own neighborhood where children are beaten, where men & women steal from their futures with drugs, to crime, abuse, hurt, and hate-filled speech. Our world needs peace and peacemakers.

More than ever, I commit my life to try to better lead others, to more frequently discern, and to better live out myself - the ideals of Jesus' ministry to live and love for others so that the world might be transformed into a place where there is peace on earth and joy for all people!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On Reading Well

A few days ago I posted to my Facebook wall:  "Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Willard Swartley, Walter Wink, Wes Howard-Brook & Wendell Berry. Authors who have reshaped my life. Heartily recommended to all!"

Today I saw the Librarian of our University Library posted this picture as her Christmas reading stack. 

There is only one book in her stack that I have not read  - and perhaps 15 of the 19 books in her stack are from specific requests I made that our library purchase these titles.

It's a silly-piece-of-nothing - but (1) I'm proud of myself this morning for being a good reader since reading changes lives and (2) I'm proud that I encourage other people to read great works and (3) I'm proud that I help resource things like my University library and this blog space to share specific reviews on reading with others.

And, I'm reminded that I've been too busy with too many other things of late, to read more.  I do have a few books to post from the past months. 

I look forward to more good books to read into 2014!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

How we treat others.

This is excerpted from the Blog of the editors of Wipf and Stock Publishers:

An unattributed story from the Associated Press in last week’s paper recounted how a Mormon bishop in Taylorsville, Utah, (a suburb of Salt Lake City) had a make-up artist radically change his appearance so that he would be unrecognizable even to his own family.

He dressed like a homeless man and showed up prior to Sunday services at his own church and interacted (or tried to interact) with the congregants. A couple gave him money, a few (especially children) spoke with him, but most hurried past him and didn’t want to speak to him or even look him in the eye.

During the service, he approached the pulpit and revealed who he was—to the shock of the congregation. He was quite surprised that people were so taken aback. He told them that he didn’t pull this as a stunt and certainly did not intend to shame anyone. He simply wanted to hold up a mirror so that they could think about how they interacted with others. It is reminiscent of “some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2, KJV).

If we treat everyone with grace and gratitude, whether at the holidays or not, ultimately what we will have created is a more gracious and inclusive community.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Read, Research, Repeat - How to engage the Bible.

I always tell learners that exegetical work is really quite simple.
  1. Read.
  2. Research.
  3. Repeat.

Read the Biblical Text.  Pour over it's words, it's structure, it's context and contexts.

Then, do research about the issues and contexts that you've discerned.

Then, pour again over the words and see if what you've read coheres with the Biblical text and note new things.

Then, do more research about the yet new discoveries you've found.

Repeat this process until, for your passage, you are quite confident you've ferreted out every item and every detail - and you know that because when you read new research, you can find nothing new - only what you already know in all of the research journals, articles, citations, commentaries, dictionaries.

Now that you have these 5-10 verses discerned in your pericope, move on to the next passage and in a lifetime, perhaps you'll be about 1/8 of the way through the Bible!

  1. Read
  2. Research
  3. Repeat.
Here is one of many supplemental links available on internet that might be helpful for persons learning "how to do exegesis."

Friday, November 01, 2013

I've read lots of "self-help", motivational, leadership books

I've read lots of books by lots of authors in the genre of leadership, motivation, self-help, personal development, etcetera.

I think I've narrowed their wisdom down to one basic fact (point 1 below). 

Few (if any of them) also identify the other realities of life.

Here is my assessment on life (at this time).

  1. You reap what you sow.
  2. Time and chance happen to everything.
  3. Persons (enemies) can poison what you sow (work and plan for) with weeds (harmful intention or outright destruction.)

If understood - (and if correct) - they boil down to this.

  1. You get what you work for.
  2. There are no guarantees that getting what you work for will always work.
  3. You can work hard for what you work for, and someone (or something) can harmfully take it away.

  • The only thing you can do, though - is work for what you want.
  • You can't control time and circumstance.
  • You can't control enemies.

Some self-help, motivational, and leadership books can help give new perspective and ideas about practices to "sow" differently.  Ultimately, though they are teaching people how to sow differently, so that they reap different results.   The sad reality though, is that not everyone who reads and learns and practices the best principles will "succeed."  And that's because self-help books don't admit the issues of Time & Chance and Enemies.

Better discernment and awareness of the lived realities of Time & Chance and Enemies might help people.

Work for what has meaning and value and what supports your life.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Holidays & Holy-days and Halloween

For the most part, I do not "get into" holiday "spirit" - though I love the time to live differently for a day or a few days!  I enjoy fireworks on the U.S. 4th of July, though I rarely buy anything more than a sparkler or two.

Even while I enjoy time with family at Christmas, I really do not care about decorating the house, the tree, and I think gift giving in most cases is a consumeristic-self-gratifying-and-ultimately-unsatisfying quest for the next "thing" that we think will make life "better" or "complete" or "happy."

As I child, I enjoyed Trick-Or-Treating at Halloween and have not restricted my children from participating in community candy events.

And yet, I really do not get how most Christian people invest so much more energy in these holidays, than they invest in holy days!  In fact, most people of faith probably do not realize that our "holiday" is a sub-version of what used to be holy days!  We've even de-sacralized the name from being about holy things - to just "holi" - and most people never catch it!  We've secularized what used to be distinctive about marking holy-days and holy-time!

I am certain that the past decade has seen massive growth in the popularity of Halloween Costumes and Halloween items.  In our local community, where costumes and decorations used to only be available in Big Box stores, now, emporary outlet stores of remarkable size are set up weeks before Halloween.  (At one major intersection near our home, 3 large Superstores for Halloween items and costumes are in competition.  I entered two of the stores and the variety of headless, armless, bloody, prison, vampire-ish, zombie, animal, villain, werewolf costumes and "decorations" astounded me!)

It's curious to me that for most of Christian history, Christian people used to give their focus and celebration to All Saint's Day - November 1st.

It used to be the focus of believers to celebrate and adorn and consider those who were most holy in their midst.

And now, instead, most Christians don't know an All Saints Day exists - as they invest their hard earned dollars not in missions or justice or charity - but in costumes of entertainment that do not beckon us to live differently as holy people in the world.

This makes me wish believers could and would do more to promote peace, love, joy, justice and charity!

May all believers find unique space and time in these next days to consider the best examples of people who lived lives that best reflected the perfect hopes of love & peace in our world.

And may the example of these holy persons in our midst inspire us to have more holydays in our own lives and more peace in all Creation.

After posting this, a few persons shared with me other links to persons who have expressed the same idea - with other data and history.  Here are a couple of other great links that share the same hope!

By K.W. Leslie 

By James B. Jordan

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meaningful relational time, Yes. Ineffective meetings, No.

Most meetings I attend require no action from the people present.

Most of the discussion is not about thoughtful, evaluative, critical and constructive engagement - nor is it about work needing decisive review - it is simple data delivery.

My honest sense is that 90% of the 60-75 minute meetings I attend, could be summarized in a bullet list of data points that could be read by any person in 2-3 minutes, saving every-single-participant the hour!  Or, alternately, a 3-5 minute video-clip could be sent to all meeting participants in place of the meeting, again, saving everyone the hour!

  • I love effective, deliberate, engaging meetings that have set agenda, deliberate organization and which take decisive action or which give actionable items for clear follow-through!
  • And!  I'm all for meaningful relational time.  I enjoy fellowship with colleagues and partners in pastoral ministry, political issues, peacemaking, interfaith conversation and more where we sit to "just talk" about "ideas" or explore dreams!  I enjoy meaningful relationship!  

But, I do not understand ineffective meetings where people claim the so-called-meeting served a purpose because, "We all needed to get together to talk" or "We always meet on X day of the month."  If it is X day of the month, and there are no action items, then cancel the meeting and plan a deliberate social event for relational value, but don't pretend it's a meeting or run it like a meeting.  Or, if there are only 10 minutes of action items, and the meeting is scheduled for X day of the month, then figure out a way to use technology to get the 10 minutes done virtually.  Or, tell people in advance that only 10 minutes is needed, and if everyone will show on time, then at the 15 minute mark, have beverages delivered and enjoy shared relational dialogue, celebrating an effective 10 minute meeting followed by separate time of shared fellowship when the meeting is adjourned.

I do not understand 60-75 meetings that, more than anything else, drain lives.  It seems like an intentionally poor practice of stewardship!

  • My wish is for thoughtful, credible, action oriented meetings that involve items that need action, or critical players to "vote" and intentionally collaborate together.
  • My wish is also for non-meeting events of genuine conversation, dialogue, getting-to-know-people and discerning personalities, hobbies, life-pursuits.
  •  And . . . ineffective meetings of extended time that require no action and which deliver no social camaraderie of meaningful depth . . . I wish your nonexistence in my future!

Mentoring others - and Meaning in Life

I think about how I can be a better mentor to others nearly everyday.

Today, a friend my age passed away - from a yet to be described heart failure.

Today, in my daily reading I reviewed these "20 Things People Regret The Most Before They Die."  (While the 20 things do not connect to an empirical study that is cited . . . they do have ring of truth to them.)

I noticed how many of the "20 things" are about relational issues.  Speaking the truth.  Being honest.  Spending more time with others.

I find these words as inspirational to me today as I will continue to try to invest in the lives of others for as long as I get to live with the hope that I will empower the life of others!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Don't miss it - Justice and Mercy are not synonomous.

With a clever turn-of-phrase, a blogger I've never met named Megan posted a great entry on how Justice is not Mercy.

I cover this topic in many classes that I teach, since the issue pervades the Hebrew Bible!

I spent about two weeks, more or less, in the past few weeks - in various ways focusing in on this theme with my 8th & 7th Century prophets class.

I always refer people to David Hilfiker's work - and this article:  Justice and the Limits of Charity.

I'm happy that I'll now be able to redirect people to this great new entry - saying the same things, but in fresh ways.   Synon(amiss) - Why our approach to justice and mercy is missing the mark.

(Picture from the Synon(amiss) blog banner page.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bible Dictionary for Bible Work - not "plain" dictionaries!

The last few weeks I've had to direct several learners to Bible Dictionaries.  (Many different Bible dictionaries exist, and are more-or-less the same thing in content, though with unique differences, of course!)

I've told people who are studying the Bible,
"When you're ever needing to understand definitions and terms for Bible issues, you should use a Bible Dictionary as preference in all cases compared to other dictionaries like  Miriam-Webster's or Oxford English language dictionaries."

As an example, note the huge comparative difference in this same single term - in the two kinds of dictionaries:

This link is from the Holman Bible Dictionary on "Oracle":

And it's much more informed and specific than this link from Merriam-Webster on the exact same "search" word "Oracle":

I hope this is helpful to all! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pastors should go to Israel

I read Wayne Stiles' website frequently.

He has a current post about "Why You Should Send Your Pastor to Israel"

You should read his entire post - but his summary bullet points include the fact that the Pastor's tour will:   (1) give him what his seminary didn’t.  (2) increase her clarity in preaching.  And (3) deepen her or his walk with God as a spiritual leader.

I agree.

While it's nearly too late for anyone to sign up for "my" January 2014 trip let me encourage lay persons to read Stile's website link provided -  where he also outlines "How You Can Send Your Pastor to Israel"

I'm convinced people who experience Israel come back transformed for the best Christian reasons!

Find a way to send your pastor - or travel as a pastor - for Christian reasons, not just tourism - that will enliven your faith and the faith of your congregation or ministry!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Registered Peacemaker - Conscientious Objector Church of the Nazarene

Several years ago, I became aware that there was a specific process whereby I had to register with my Christian denomination to be "on file" as a Conscientious Objector to War.  While I completed that process some time ago, I had to check on my status recently and discovered that a portion of my "file" was not complete.

I took care of that business the other day.

I share here the picture of my documents - that in another way in my life register me as a Peacemaker!

And, since the Church of the Nazarene does not have the filing paperwork publicly available on the denominational website. I want to share it here in PDF file for any who want to consider their own registration.

Monday, September 23, 2013

University Professor Work

This infographic shows why I feel blessed to already be a professor with rank and experience - and - why I caution young people to be thoughtful, wise stewards of their education if they want to go to graduate school!

Un-Hired Ed: The Growing Adjunct Crisis

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Big Heart Open to God - the Pope in 2013

In my opinion, the Pope is doing and saying "all" the right things!

A long interview posted today - and a few great quotes include:

"The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things," the pope said, "in small-minded rules." 

"The people of God want pastors," Francis continued, "not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials." 

"But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God." 
A full read of the entire interview is a must for thoughtful people - and certainly for Christian persons both Protestant & Catholic.
More here:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Little Space-Craft That Could

Armed with a computer that is billions of times slower than our smart phones, while recording on 8-track tape with technology 35 years old the Voyager 1 Spacecraft is still offering us new data into our HUGE universe.

The article reminds me of many things:  (1) How big our universe it and how long it takes us to explore little strands of it.  And, (2) the leaps and bounds of our technology in the past few decades.

Amazing Creation filled with amazing ingenuity.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Summer Reading - and Life's Hurt

I didn't read as much this summer as I typically do.

I read more books than this one, but this is all I have time to share now.

The one book I read and re-read this summer is HURT:  Inside the World of Today's Teenager.

It was not an academic exercise for me, and was deeply personal.

The title's first word characterizes too much of my feeling.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Book In Review - on Humility

My first published book was written several years ago for an academic audience.  It was not intended to be perfect nor to reshape the landscape of Biblical studies.

Published originally by Pickwick Press, it was picked up for renewed publication by James Clarke, Co. - Cambridge, it was up for new review by other Scholars.

One reviewer hated it.

A few professional colleagues touched base with me before I had read the review.  The reviewer's critique, in their estimation, went beyond a book review to personal attack.  Being contacted by professional friends before reading the review was nice as it was disappointing to read the biting critique from the reviewer.

I am thankful that I was able to review other Scholarly Reviews of my book in the previous (non-Cambridge) editions.  Others had noted positive points and contributions from my work, alongside their critical review.  A reminder that my work, though imperfect, is not a failure in the perspective of every Scholar.

Perhaps someday I'll have the opportunity to meet the reviewer who hated my work in order to share relational grace and charity with him.  I believe we could be friends.  I read about him on the internet. I believe we share core ideas about the charitable extension of Grace made available to our world.

It's also nice to know that my 2nd Book invites me to look beyond the accolades of the Academy for prestige - as I seek to Love God and Love Others in all that I do.  I'm sure my 2nd book has failings, too . . . and in spite of those typos or errors,  I believe the message of the Greatest Commandment is clear enough for all to discern!

Friday, August 30, 2013

You cannot please all the people all the time.

Of course the expression is tried and true!  "You cannot please all the people all the time."

I just reviewed a class survey completed by the learners from in a course I taught several months ago.  Honestly, I had one person say I was "one of the greatest" teachers they have ever had, and another a "Great Teacher," and another wrote about my quick and generous communication.  It would make me feel only good, except that another learner said I was "too harsh."

I cannot please all the people all the time.

It's a good thing, that I rarely "try" to please people and instead simply try to act consistently with my core values and core hopes for life!  I certainly HOPE people are "pleased" in working with me but I can not control their perceptions and I can only work diligently to as consistently as possible remain consistent in my lifestyle.  My core values include extending peace, opening relationships of reciprocity & grace, extending kindness and enacting justice toward eupan

Those who are close to me know that my daily prayer for myself and my family is that we would become people who are faithful and honest, kind and true, gracious and generous, people who reflect and embody the life of God's Kingdom.

While I am imperfect, my belief and hope is that most who encounter me will see the genuine desires of my life embodied in these ways.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

25 years ago - Me & the Berlin Wall

25 years ago I painted my name on the Berlin Wall (Germany) with the brightest orange-yellow paint I could buy.  (Yes, I was a vandal!)
I went on the last night I was scheduled to be in Berlin at the end of several weeks in Germany.  I concluded that if I got caught, the worst thing they would do would be to "kick me out of the country" - and in that case, I'd be going home anyway. 
I went alone, so that I would not get anyone else from the High-School group in trouble.  
I purchased the paint at the Kaufhaus Des Westens.
When I painted it - I had to jump a small barrier (on the West Side - not East!) between patrols of Jeeps - and paint quickly.
Of course, it wasn't  high level security - based on the fact that the wall was well painted! Still, though, I had to do it between jeep patrols, not knowing if I'd be in trouble as an American teenager at the time! This was done nearly directly behind the Reichstag building - an important historic building that I chose intentionally so I would remember where I did this.
When I was done, I realized I had forgotten my camera!  So, "my mark" on this historic wall - that would be torn down the next year - was lost to to me except in my mind.
Unbeknown to me - another Marty took a picture with my name before East Germany opened up and the wall was dismantled, that same summer.

In the curious connectedness of the internet, in 2009, a friend of that other Marty googled my name . . . and sent me this picture - that the other Marty took in 1988!  
No way! I did that!
 Here's a picture of the general location from where the image would have been -