Archive for the ‘Ancient Text’ Category
I love ya. I gotta go.
You’ve started to entertain the notion that keeping identity with your tribe makes less sense than ever before. And you wonder at your own sanity because the facts before you do not match the story your tribe keeps telling:
- Maybe your tribe believes one person in your office has nothing good to say, but you think otherwise.
- Maybe your tribe is willing to look the other way as the elected official—whom the tribe helped elect—continues to lie, goes against the sacred center of your tribe’s beliefs and behaves increasingly erratically.
- Maybe your tribe shuts down alternate readings of your sacred text because those readings don’t suit the current ideological goals of the people calling the shots.
For these and any number of other reasons, it may be time to leave your tribe. But how? It’s tricky, because most of your friends and your family friends and friends of your friends are in the tribe. Maybe you spend all your time with these people. Maybe you live with these people. But here are three starting points:
- Check in with soul-friends. You know people who are like-minded and are driven less by ideology and more by relationship and caring. Find these folks and build trust with them. Spend time with them and share your concerns. Ask questions together and see if a new story emerges.
- Read and talk widely. Get different opinions from diverse people. Look for ways to read books that challenge the orthodoxy. The good news about challenge is that what is true remains while what is false slips away. But reading is best when you share points of interest with others—especially with those soul-friends. Look for opportunities to step outside your tribe: the person at work or in class who is clearly coming from a different perspective. Who knows where friendship and insight might come from? Actively seek others with questions, remember that you are not alone with your questions.
- Have Faith and Take Courage. Hold your core your beliefs firmly and ask questions of the periphery. This is the time-honored way of artists, writers, thinkers, activists and leaders. See where the questions lead—this is the way of sanity and art. Turning a blind eye to inconsistencies and discontinuities leads to a very bad place, a place where reality differs from tribal knowledge.
There is a way forward and you will find it.
Good luck and God-speed.
Image: Kirk Livingston
Image Credit: Kirk Livingston
Some say there is
Trump wants power, of course. So do each of the Republican candidates for president. Just like the Democrat candidates—every candidate wants power and pledges to do right by those who grant them power. We are no different from those candidates: We all want power. We want colleagues to listen to us, spouses to bend to our will, children to follow our directives.
We want what we want. Especially because what we want is good and pure and right, holy and God-ordained.
One ancient writer thought there might be a different way. Old (dead) Dr. Luke quoted Jesus as saying you are better off finding a way to help the helpless then you are arguing over who is most powerful. Helping those who have no way to pay you back opens doors to a different sort of life that has very little to do with amassing power.
In fact—all that energy you spent manipulating and maneuvering into power—it’s not likely to lead you to the kind of solid ground that matters most.
What would our presidential politics look like if candidates thought about serving rather than voicing shameful prejudices that pry power from blocks of fearful voters? Likely that would not be covered by the media, because there is no story in that.
The institutions and organizations that own the candidates would not like that.
But humans might actually flourish in those conditions.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston
Where’s John the Baptist when you need him?
John’s task was to prepare the way of the Lord. That looked and sounded like insults to a crowd already well aware of the law and prophets and how to navigate the ancient texts. It’s just that the crowd’s navigation allowed them to do what they wanted while ignoring the invigorating spirit of the texts.
Thus John’s insults.
It’s easy and natural to take insults as insults (that is the intention, after all). But to see them as opportunities? That actually happens to most of us: insults become opportunities…ten years later. It takes ten years, or maybe twenty, to see the truth of what that busybody meddler said. And then in conversation with a friend or your grown-up kid or spouse you find yourself saying, “They were actually spot-on, though I denied it at the time.”
A few days ago an acquaintance called me out on one my typical innocuous and benign conversations about copywriting and communication—he resisted my assertions and would not back down. His insult landed wide of the mark and made no sense to anyone else either, but it got me thinking about my approach to a particular set of clients I work with. In fact, my acquaintance’s sharp barb started to reveal a truth about my approach that has since proved quite useful.
This is atypical.
I usually spend a decade stewing on an insult and devising comebacks and elaborate retributions. But what would life be like if I/we could be more open-handed about criticism?
That might help us grow beyond our blind spots—which might prove useful.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston
Can a conversation save your life?
I recently met a therapist who practices dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). She and her team work with clients who may struggle with a number of issues including borderline personality disorders and thoughts of suicide, among other things. As we talked it seemed to me that her practice was very much focused on, well, talking. Her practice of therapeutic talk has a pretty good track record of helping people find ways through each scary personal wilderness.
In Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide (NY: The Guilford Press, 2012), Kelly Koerner describes some pieces of how this therapy works:
Emotion dysregulation is the inability, despite one’s best efforts, to change or regulate emotional cues, experiences, actions, verbal responses, and/or nonverbal expression under normative conditions.
Gaining control is a matter of recognizing biologically-based contributing characteristics, focused regular therapeutic conversations, skills training, self-monitoring and a host of other strategies and tactics.
As a non-therapist outsider, I am simply curious as to how far conversation can go to help people become well again. And I am very curious as to what a therapeutic conversation looks like. While we may or may not suffer the particular illnesses that Koerner notes, I am reasonably certain anyone reading this can testify to the clarifying power of a conversation with a good friend and the long-term impact conversations have on keeping us…sane.
In ListenTalk: Is conversation an Act of God? I try to show what happens in our simple and ordinary conversations. I found a few philosophers to talk with some ancient texts (pre-order ListenTalk here), and what they ended up saying together continues to surprise me. It’s a book that will be interesting to people of faith, but the big idea is that since people matter, our talk together matters. And more than that, we actually come alive in tiny ways when in conversation.
I’ve begun tracing the different paths where conversation is truly an engine for some particular outcome. I’ve noted the product place of conversation in many business settings. I’ve wondered about the role of conversation in connecting any/all of us to God. And now here is another example of using the ordinary tool of talk to uncover and possibly address deep-seated need.
Talk. It’s a marvel.
Other Shop Talks you may find interesting:
- Writing with Sheet Metal (Shop Talk #2)
- Is Your Job Fulfilling? (Shop Talk #3)
- Power Distance Vs. Skunkworks (Shop Talk #8)
Image credit: Kirk Livingston