Day 334 of the Calendar Year

Genesis is the first book of the Old Testament and the Torah. It is the book that tells about the beginning of creation and the early relationships between God and his “chosen” people. When we refer to the genesis of anything, we are talking about the beginning or creation of it. According to the Book of Genesis, it took God six days to make the world and he rested on the seventh. Today there is great debate over the literal accuracy of these words. Creationists want to hold to the biblical description as to how the world was created. Those of a more scientific mindset have put this description aside in favor of the Evolutionary theory developed by Darwin and others. This debate started many years ago and still continues.

The Creationists want to believe that “humans” were created in the “likeness” of God and not as a process of development from fishes to apes to humans. Evolutionists point to the scientific evidence that humans have “evolved” over time and that it took millions of years for us to become what we are today. Scientists like to talk about the “Big Bang” theory as to how the world and heavens were created. According to this theory, a cosmic mass of energy and matter exploded sending superheated particles of matter throughout the universe. This matter eventually coalesced into the bodies that we call planets, moons and suns. After eons of years, life began to form (at least on the third planet from the sun in our solar system) and then Homo Sapiens eventually emerged. Not all people subscribe to either theory. There are many who regard the Evolutionary theory with as much skepticism as the theory accepted by the Creationists.

I have another theory. My theory holds that it does not really matter one iota how the earth was created. I am more concerned with what we do to the earth today and less with how it was created or who created it. For all I care, it could have been created by a cosmic Leprechaun who had a really warped sense of humor. How else can you account for the acrimony that we humans can expend over the most senseless and useless issues? I would like to see 1/3 of the energy spent by Evolutionists and Creationists directed to help fight the environmental and economic problems that we see facing our world. Global warming (whether caused by man or nature) is happening, along with increased atmospheric and environmental pollution.

No one disagrees that we need to have economic development but at what price? Are beanie babies, IPods, disposable diapers and fertilizers to grow really pretty green lawns worth the costs incurred to the environment by their creation and usage? How much commercialism and development are our environment, forests, oceans and lakes worth? Where do we draw the line between commercial development and environmental responsibility? Who pays for the “externalities” that economists talk about?

Will we spend all of our time and energy in trivial debates about who created and how the earth was created and in denying the reality of problems that we see today? Or will we spend our energy to all work together to maintain and create the kind of blue-green world that we want to live in. Which side will you be on? What will you do to help create a clean environment? If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Are you waiting for someone else to do it?

Day 333 of the Calendar Year

Church time! No, last week I learned that this is not the same as prayer time. Some of us associate church with praying, but you do not have to go to church to pray. At the service I attended last week at Bishop Watson’s church, the minister(standing in for Bishop Watson) emphasized the importance of coming to church on Sunday as a means of bonding with other like-minded people. It is not only a time to think about your soul but also a time for socializing and gathering with others. It is a time for sharing. The minister emphasized that “watching church on TV is not enough.” She said you have to go to church. She stressed how important the communal nature of the gathering was. I had never thought about church like this before. When I grew up, I hated going to church. I saw it as one hour of listening to sermons and lectures which had little or no meaning to me. I came to church, listened and then went home. There was little or no fellowship or interaction with the other church-goers.

Many believers feel that God resides in temples, churches, synagogues, mosques and other house of prayers. Other believers would say that god resides wherever you are. I have often wondered why you need to go to church to commune with god. However, if we all need fellowship and bonding with similar worshippers, then this puts another spin on the matter. Perhaps, we all need to worship together for the communal spirit that comes from congregating at our various places of worship.

I think it is interesting that we have different names for these places of worship depending on our religious orientation. We have temples, churches, synagogues and mosques. But the spirit of coming together and the reasons we do so, are similar. As human beings we all want to believe in something greater than ourselves. We seek out diverse groups or associations of like-minded individuals. We want to feel part of something larger than ourselves and we join clubs, associations, civic groups, volunteer groups and religious groups to fulfill these needs. We fulfill different needs with different groups. Some of these affiliations fill social, physical and economic needs but our spiritual needs are no less important.

How do you fulfill your spiritual needs? How do you share fellowship around these needs? How do you reach out to other people spiritually? Are you satisfied with your spiritual life and the blessings it brings you? What would it take to improve your spiritual life?

Day 332 of the Calendar Year

Wedding time- a time of joyous celebration and commitment, a time of happiness and the expectancy of long years spent with the partner of one’s choice. From another perspective, a time of youthful naiveté, a time of soon to be dashed dreams and a rude awakening to reality. People once got married much earlier then they are doing today. The average age of marriage has increased. People are living together more often and delaying marriage. You might think that this would impact the divorce rate but it does not seem to have had an impact yet. My favorite poem which my first wife found and gave to me when we were married went as follows:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!” (Robert Browning, 1812-1889)

I am now married for the second time to another wonderful woman and I still think of these lines and what I want marriage to mean for me. It has entailed work, tears, pain and many arguments and disagreements. On the other hand, it has entailed joy, innumerable memories of good times together, a great deal of shared pleasure and more happiness than I would have ever thought possible. As we have grown older, we have gone to marriages of friends, close relatives and others of our generation. We are now going to the marriages of children of our friends, second marriages of our friends and soon marriages of our grandchildren.

I thought I would be going to more funerals as I aged and instead I seem to be going to more marriages. We will have gone to six marriages this year. Bear in mind, that I detest ceremonies and will try to get out of marriages and funerals unless they are of close friends or relatives. So what to make of wedding time? Why do people cry at weddings? How come we don’t laugh? I think there are some we should laugh at but I guess we are just too polite. Maybe that’s why we cry. We say its tears of joy but maybe it’s a realization that this marriage is really doomed. Let’s be honest, how many people do you know who have married the wrong person? How long did it take for them to wake up and realize this? Oh, but I should not be so cynical, lets give them a chance. Divorce statistics be damned!

How many times have you been married? Did you marry the right person? If not, when did you realize that they were not meant for you? What did you do about it? What would you change if you could go back now? How do you tell people that marriage requires a great deal of work to be successful? There will be problems in every marriage, but maybe the problem is not the other person. Do you think the problem could be you?

Day 331 of the Calendar Year

I suppose I should write about “Black Friday” but I think I will pass, instead I give you the following:

Chaos or Order, which rules your life? Chaos time is non-linear, non-ordered, non-sequential, unpredictable and multi-tasking. Order time is logical, linear, programmable, predictable and sequential. Some say time exists to bring order out of chaos. Our general view of chaos is that it leads to problems. Complex Adaptive Theory (Chaos Theory) subscribes to the viewpoint that the world is nominally chaotic and that only by understanding that the world is in a state of constant disequilibrium can we fully appreciate it. Here is one definition of Chaos Theory:

“Chaos theory, in mathematics and physics, deals with the behavior of certain nonlinear dynamical systems that (under certain conditions) exhibit the phenomenon known as chaos, most famously characterized by sensitivity to initial conditions (see butterfly effect). Examples of such systems include the atmosphere, the solar system, plate tectonics, turbulent fluids, economies, and population growth.” http://www.wikipedia.org

The implications of Chaos Theory have had profound effects on the way scientists and even lay people now view the world. We realize that our planning methods, our prediction methods and out strategies are subject to a great deal more unpredictability and serendipity then we once believed. This does not mean that we cannot or should not plan, but it implies that the degree of accuracy of our planning is subject to many outside and uncontrollable forces. Some even believe that planning is a waste of time. I disagree. If anything, I am more likely to plan but I build in more contingencies. I do agree that it is naïve to forecast without considering the concept of “sensitivity to initial conditions” or the idea of “wild cards.” Both of these ideas imply that there are many factors which might alter our plans and over which we have no control. Nevertheless, I have had over 1000 plane trips during the last twenty two years and in every case except one, I have arrived on-time at the place I wanted to go. Either I am very lucky or the world can be ordered. Maybe we can’t order everything and maybe it is foolish to try but many events, programs and activities happen every day based on “order time.”

What is your view of time? Is your time Chaotic or Ordered? Do you plan based on Chaos time or Order time? How effective has your planning been? How do you think your planning could be more effective? Would thinking about Chaos time help your planning?

Day 330 of the Calendar Year

Lifespan is an interesting way of looking at time. The average lifespan of a male during the Roman Empire was 28 years. During the course of the 20th century, average life expectancy in the US rose by 57 percent, from about 49 years of age in 1901 to 77 years by the year 2000. Males and females have different life spans and different countries today may vary considerably in the life spans of their citizens. Average life expectancy in Japan is 82.02 and in Angola it is 37.63 (The Worldfact book, http://www.cia.gov). All of these numbers though may be meaningless for us individually as they are simply averages. Teenagers today are involved in a high percentage of fatal car accidents and many will not live to be 21. If you smoke, drink heavily, eat poorly and never exercise, you may live to be 100 but I would not bet on it.

What are the factors that contribute to a long lifespan? These are certainly well known by actuaries who determine insurance rates based on them. Some would include: culture, heredity, health patterns, life style, job and even luck plays a factor. If you buy a life insurance policy, you are gambling that you will get more benefits out of it than you have paid in. Since insurance companies are well armed with facts and data, you are probably going to lose the bet. One of the most important contributions to increased longevity was not from any advances in medicine but was from public health education. According to the Dept of Public Health, Twenty-five of the 30 years of increased life expectancy in the US during the last century can be attributed to public health initiatives rather than medical advances. Thus, we need to add hygiene to our list of factors that contribute to longevity. When we near our final hours, medical science will do all it can to stretch our last minutes on this earth. In fact, it has been stretching our life for some time now but there is definitely a cost attached to the effort.

Nevertheless, most of use would be willing to trade a few more dollars for a few more hours on earth. However, many people see the foolishness of trying to extend their life beyond a reasonable point and opt to forego these last minute catastrophic life saving procedures. What is a reasonable time to live is a question that many of us will answer quite differently. What do you think is a reasonable time to live? What are the circumstances that might cause you to “throw in the towel?” Have you developed a living will to specify what procedures you will forego or are you leaving it to others to decide? This can be a terrible decision for others to make.

If you are living in the USA today, you can ponder these questions after you have had your fill of turkey and stuffing. If so, give thanks today for the life you live, for many others in the world will not be celebrating and if they did, they would not have much to celebrate in terms of expecting a long life.

Day 329 of the Calendar Year

Magic time is any time that magic is performed. When we go to a magic show, time as we know it maybe grossly distorted. Flowers can grow from a seed to full bloom in a few seconds and we have seen chicks turned into chickens and other tricks that seem to make us doubt our concepts of time. Magicians such as Merlin were said to be able to make accurate prophecies because they could go backward and forward in time and hence knew exactly what was going to transpire. Magicians play with our ideas of what should be and what we expect can be. “Magic,” said Harry Blackstone, the great magician, is “nothing but pure psychology — applied in the right place.”

Our minds can easily be fooled because we all have expectations of what should be and what is. For instance, older actors can be made to look younger and vice versa by simply changing hair color or adding some gray streaks or removing gray streaks. We associate age with graying and hair loss (at least in men). We trick the ideas of others and try to appear generally younger than we really are. We perform a sort of magic trick. Magic is simply the art of creating an illusion. Time plays a role here because time is another illusion. Who is to say that someone 60 years old is really not younger than someone 50 years old? If we measured time by degree of health, it is quite possible that many “older” people are actually younger than some younger people.

Yesterday, a friend of mine who attended the International BMW Riders Annual Event told me that the rider who received the award for most mileage done last year (63,000 miles in one year) was an 85 year old woman. How many younger motorcyclists could or would be able to do that much mileage in one year? Our fixed ideas of life and time create boxes for many us that limit what we can do or can be. Little children are so delightful because their ideas about time and life are not as rigid as adults. The new generation of computer kids doesn’t know that they have to wait until they are old to become billionaires. It is not unusual to see some twenty something with a billion dollar Start-up Company.

What expectations and ideas do you have about life that have been tricked by “magic?” Have you ever thought you were too old to do something? Or that someone was too young to so something? Why? What would you like to do today that you think you are too old to do? What about too young to do? What would you do with your life if time did not matter?

Day 328 of the Calendar Year

Party-time! Wow, how we all love parties. Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y all have one thing in common. They all love parties. I have a party to go to! It’s a wedding party, a dinner party, an office party, a graduation party, a birthday party, a Halloween party, a holiday party, or just a plain old party. I have to get ready for the party. What will I wear? How will I look? What time should I arrive? What should I bring? What should I say when I get there? Will so and so be there? Questions, anxiety, propriety and tradition all fill our minds when we think of going to a party. Yet, few of us will refuse a party invitation unless we have an even better party to go to.

We seldom ask what it means to party as we assume we know. Nevertheless, we all have a very different idea of what “party-time” means. Some of us see it as a chance to drink and eat. Some of us see it as a chance to meet and mingle with the other sex. Some of use see it as chance to network and refresh our business contacts. Some of us see it as a chance to show off our new status or accomplishments. All of us have different associations of what party-time means.

Traditionally, a party is a time to celebrate and join together with others in a socially relaxed setting. In more modern times, business has been added as a legitimate element of parties. We now have Amway Parties, Tupperware Parties and Lingerie Parties. Most often we find women going to these. Have you ever wondered why we don’t have these house parties for men? Of course, men have stag parties and bachelor parties, but women now have bachelorette parties. Maybe men get enough of their business done on the golf course. What is your favorite type of party? Why? What is the best party you have ever gone to? If you could design the greatest party in the world, how would it look? Who would you invite? Where would you have it? How long would it last? Can I come?

Day 327 of the Calendar Year

Recreation time is something we learn to value as little children. It is that time when we can “re”-create; meaning we can go out to play and have fun. Every culture in the world knows the meaning of recreation time. Doctors and scientists tell us how important it is for adults as well as children to have recreation time. It is an essential time for growth and development. We actually re-create ourselves. How do we do this? By using recreation time to pursue other interests, by being less goal oriented and by exploring things that have no immediate payoff. Recreation is doing things just for the fun of doing them without expectation of gain or reward.

As the world becomes more global and more competitive, perhaps we all need more recreation time both at work and at home. The fifteen minute break time you get at work is not the same as recreation time. That brief respite is designed to prevent you from having a nervous or physical break down. It is not nearly enough time to help you to recreate. Organizations pay lip service to the idea of growth and development but provide hardly enough time for it to happen. Colleges are one of the few institutions that give paid sabbaticals. I have often thought sabbaticals should be mandatory for all institutions both profit and non-profit. Imagine, if you could get paid to take off for a year. You could use this time to attend classes, go on vacation, pursue new hobbies or learn some new skills. Why should a company pay for you to have time off? The simple answer is because new skills and training will benefit the company. Ideally what helps any of us become better people will help our society and our economy. This is taking a long term view of growth which is not widely recognized in organizations. Many companies refuse to reimburse for tuition and schooling unless it is directly related to the present job. This is taking the short view of life.

Well, enough writing for now. It is time for me to re-create. What are you going to do today for recreation? How much time each day do you allow for recreation? Can you say that you have fun each and every day of the week? Why not? What would it take to change your life to have more fun? When do you propose to start? How many people do you know who started a career or a business based on something that they once did for fun? Why not get paid to do what you think is fun? Maybe you can put the joy and creativity in your career that you found in your hobby. Why should work not be fun? Why can’t fun be work?

Day 326 of the Calendar Year

Prayer time seems very appropriate today. Could there be a message here? I am going to a church service today (Sunday) led by a friend of mine. He recently left another church to start a new church. He often said he did not feel like the other church was going in the direction that he wanted it to and that there was a lot of old baggage in the church. Starting new was a way for Bishop Bill to create a direction that he felt was more in keeping with his idea of God’s mission.

In the words of Bishop William A. Watson, III, “Bishop Bill” founder and Senior Pastor of the Revelation Christian Center, International:

“Know that you are free to worship in any way that Biblical decorum demands and the Holy Spirit leads. We are not concerned about where you’ve come from, we want to help you to get where you are going. Your past is just that, the past. We will help you focus on your future.”

Of course, prayer time does not have to be on a Sunday or in a church. You can pray anytime and anywhere. Prayer is a conversation between you and your god or spirits. Prayer is universal. Catholics, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus all pray. Many spiritual leaders espouse the value of prayers in their lives. Atheists might also find value in prayer. Even if you are not deeply religious, prayer can be helpful. There are many methods and types of prayers. For instance, a prayer well known by AA members is:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
–Reinhold Niebuhr

Another one of my favorite prayers has been attributed to Big Thunder (Bedagi) a late 19th. Century Algonquin:

Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation’s beauty more than we give;
Never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty;
Never to take from her what we cannot use.

To learn more about prayer and the value it can give to your life, a good place to go is the following website: http://www.worldprayers.org/ At the World Prayers website, you will find many great prayers organized into an easy to use database representative of all life affirming faiths and spiritual practices without preference to any one. If you think prayer is only for deeply religious people, you are wrong. Prayer can be helpful to all of us as it allows us to reflect on the important things in life. I have never believed in prayer as a way of getting anything free or as a way of circumventing the work of life. In fact, I love the short prayer that goes: “Pray to the lord and row for the shore.” Prayer is not a substitute for living but it can be a very meaningful and worthwhile addition to your life.

Do you pray? How often? Has prayer helped you to live a more meaningful life? Have you ever thought of praying on a regular basis? Why not? Do think more prayer and reflection could help your life? What would it take to put aside five minutes for prayer each day in your life?

Day 325 of the Calendar Year

Holidays or holy-days! When does a holy-day become a holiday and vice versa? Is Christmas a holiday or a holy-day? Is Easter a holy-day or a holiday? Is the Fourth of July a holiday or a holy-day? Do we any longer care? It often seems like it is just another day off to most people? Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day and many other “special” days have lost their meaning. They have become corrupted by our greed for leisure time and pleasure. How many of us celebrate their true meaning anymore? Is the meaning of Christmas in Santa Claus and the frantic search for new toys and the right gift? Is the meaning of Easter in the Easter bunny and colored eggs? Is the meaning of Thanksgiving in a stuffed turkey?

The word “holy” means: “belonging to or derived from or associated with a divine power” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com). While I would not want to be thought of as the Grinch who stole Christmas, I think we have lost sight of the sacred and the divine in too many of our holy-days. “Render unto Caesar and render unto God”! We have become lost with Caesar and forgotten God in our zest for celebration. Our sense of the divine and sacred has been subordinated to our sense of recreation and entertainment. Holy-days have become holidays and we forget their very reason for being. There is a great loss in this forgetting. Who is more important, God or Caesar? We can lose our direction and purpose in life by leaving out the sacred and holy and replacing it with the mundane and material.

Do you remember the sacrifices that many made for your liberty on the 4th of July or your day of independence? Do you remember the heroism and suffering paid by millions on Memorial Day or May Day for your freedom? Do you stop to give thanks for your blessings on your Holy Days or is it just business as usual? Are you one of those who have lost your sense of perspective on these special days? Are your holy-days just another day of vacation? What will it take for you to put the holy back into your holidays and to remember their true meaning?

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