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Posts Tagged ‘honesty

God-Talk and Other BS

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Do Communication and Spirituality Connect?

I say “Yes.”

And I say it manifests in the ordinary conversations of everyday life.

Let me prove it: deep down in your brain-pan, where you instantly recoil from people who snap at you; back down there where your inner child says snarky, politically incorrect, frankly obscene, stuff that your adult, outer-self edits and translates to “Hmm. I see….”

Deep down there in the hidden recesses—that’s part of the connection.

Your immediate responses to the stuff of everyday life can tip you off that things are not right—deep down in the soul. Yes—I’m talking about weird stuff. But you have an inner life, right? A place where no one visits but you.


If that inner place is full of doubt, while your outer self—the adult self in tie and loafers, who edits and translates the inner child’s voice so the rest of the world remains unaware what a low-life that kid is—if that outer self proclaims stable faith in God and corporation and the upright institutions (ha ha) that surround us—that’s where the cognitive dissonance starts. That’s the precise locus of hypocrisy.

Mind you: I’m big on doubt. Questions are good. Questioning institutions and the quick answers to life’s hard questions—I’m all for that. Talking unbelief to God makes perfect sense to me (Just read Job, my patron saint of doubt honestly-processed).

It’s the saying one thing while believing another I’m not for. It is that very place where God-talk becomes BS. And I believe most of us have sixth-sense/BS detector that goes off when outer words don’t match inner life—even if we cannot put our finger on exactly why. I am most certainly talking to myself here as well.

We need to process our bouts of cognitive dissonance together to keep our God-talk from becoming BS—rudderless words without the ballast of belief and action a life-lived.

If you don’t have a friend to be honest with, find one.

This is important.

Today is Good Friday—a day when the Christian Church celebrates (is that even the right word?) Jesus’ death. Three days later we celebrate that this dead guy is dead no longer.

I appreciate this time of year for processing doubts together with others. Quite often we come away rejoicing. And somehow more whole.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

By the way: I’ve written ListenTalk: Is Conversation an Act of God? to explore this connection. Pre-order here.

Not Resolutions: New Year’s Experiments

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What will you try next?

Another way to approach the beginning of the year.

Science constantly tries to rid experiments of bias and prejudice. Medical researchers set up double-blind, randomized studies in an attempt to remove personal bias and to avoid the temptation to game the results according to how we want to see them. Bias always and forever creeps in—it is part and parcel of the human condition.

But what if, instead of looking for work-arounds for our basic subjectivity, we embraced our very human bias and used it to move forward? Not so much in science experiments and medical trials, but in our personal lives?


A theologian tweeted the other day about the lack of research and experiments in theological studies. He was right, in theological research you do not see big multi-center clinical trials running across the country. Partly because pharmaceutical companies are not lining up to fund such studies. And when they do, we’ll have an entirely new class of worries about drug-induced faith.

But, in fact, we each experiment constantly. Each of us in our own way. We experiment with ways of living. We experiment with belief systems: trying this or that to solve those deep questions. We allow ourselves to be deeply affected by what our friends, family, colleagues and neighbors believe. These experiments are a simple fact of how the human condition works. We game the system all the time and it works.

Or not (and even then, we know something new).

Some of us make resolutions this time of year. Others of us try to set direction (versus resolutions) for the year in an attempt to avoid the dismal reality of resolutions quickly broken.

But how about running your own set of experiments this year?

My friend suffers acute anxiety. It’s not a clinical condition, just solid worry as a way of life. She would like to not be such a worrier. My suggestion was an experiment in trust. Pick up nearly any of the poems by the poet-king and simply do what he did. In plain, persistent, passionate language, exclaim and define with agonizing precision the current situation and ask for release. Or help. Or mercy. The poet-king talked frankly to God—which seems like a solid experimental idea for any of us.

Experimenting with our dissatisfactions is not that bad an idea. Last year I tried to write a novel in a month (National Novel Writing Month) and I tried to make a sketch a day. Both attempts were wildly unsuccessful. But as experiments they announced solid directions by the end: write more fiction and keep practicing drawing. Last year I also experimented with following the poet-king’s example. My subjective results were mixed and positive and pointed in a direction: more trust. And more gratitude.

What subjective experiments will you run this year on your guinea-pig self?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

January 2, 2015 at 10:45 am

A Beautiful Bit of Honesty: Butte’s Berkeley Pit

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Berkeley Pit 1

The Berkeley Pit is an open pit mine on the edge of Butte that had gobbled up neighborhood after neighborhood for years. In 1982 the mine ceased operation and began filling with water. But not just filling with clean swimming pool water. The water in the pit is highly acidic and so full of minerals that today it (yes, the water itself) is “mined” for copper. It may be a myth that migrating birds die instantly if they land in the water, but vigorous hazing activities include a houseboat that moves around the lake to get birds off the water and to collect those appearing to suffer ill effects (they dump the birds in an on-board five-gallon barrel of fresh water and release them from fresh-water).

Berkeley Pit 2

Enjoy the view.

Standing on the viewing platform, the scale of the pit is amazing. And the chamber of commerce runs a brave Orwellian soundtrack complete with patriotic, upbeat music that describes all that is going on to clean up the mess and how nobody needs to worry about the toxins seeping into the ground water for a variety of reasons. So just enjoy the view. [Addendum: The level of the water in the pit is carefully monitored so the toxic mess does not seep into the groundwater. The number of people and groups watching the pit is quite amazing. ]

The beautiful bit of honesty came from a resident I spoke with. What was her impression of the Berkeley pit and what did other residents think of it?

“We know we live next to a lake of battery acid.”

No spin. No soundtrack or patriotic music. Just winsome honesty. And let’s get on with life.


Written by kirkistan

August 24, 2013 at 5:00 am

Posted in curiosities

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JC Penney and Advertising for the Brave

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Honesty as a marketing technique? Nah—that’ll never catch on.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures. That might explain why when some wiseacre proposed honesty as a communication tool, the JC Penney marketing honchos bit.

The result is memorable.


Via AdFreak

Written by kirkistan

May 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Brand Promise, Rhetoric

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NAB Honesty Shouldn’t Go Unrewarded

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That’s the spirit: “Spelled my name wrong.”


Via Adland.TV

Written by kirkistan

July 12, 2012 at 5:00 am

Posted in curiosities

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One of the Better Agency Self-Promotions: Leo Burnett

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Written by kirkistan

January 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Posted in art and work

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Can action spring from wonder?

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We fool ourselves when we think we make our own luck.

Chesed is Hebrew for “loving-kindness.”

Written by kirkistan

January 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

Posted in Ancient Text, curiosities

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