Saturday, June 30, 2007

Native American Gangs

Sunday morning. Grey.
Worked at researching the problem of Native American gangs. It is a relatively new phenomenon, but follows an old pattern: young people in low income demographics, see little possibility for advancement within social mainstream so they become outsiders. Gang rituals ensure that they will remain outside the system.

What is positive about gangs? Kids want to belong to something. Through gangs they get a sense of identification.

Janet Hagberg's Real Power highlights this tendency for powerless people to band together in groups. Unions exemplify this, are a form of gang. People who feel isolated and powerless can gain something by joining together in a team. Bargaining power, identity. But there is always a price. The individual is forever a dependent. He is usually not free to find his own identity but must be loyal to the group, think like the group, and is dependent on the leader.

The gang issue is like a festering wound. More than half of all violent crime is committed by a small percentage of criminals. Are these (in this small percentage) all gang members? Some?

Taggers are non-violent, but vandalize by spray painting. There are whole squadrons of taggers competing to paint their designs. Are these the gangs on the rez? No, the problem there is violence and drugs.
Nov. 24, 2002

Friday, June 29, 2007

Conviction is worthless unless...

“Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

“Whereas mysticism placed the emphasis on the journey inward, Luther stressed the importance of breaking out of the self into the service of others.”
~ Donald Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Vol. 2

Two good quotes from my quote book, which when woven together address the issue of solipsism. When our lives revolve around ourselves, we are missing the point of Christian faith, says Bloesch. And Carlyle's comment nudges us to make our walk keep up with our talk.

As Dylan has written:
"What good am I if I know and don't do,
If I see and don't say, if I look right through you
If I turn a deaf ear to the thunder in the sky
What good am I?
"What Good Am I? Oh Mercy, 1990

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two Quotes On Listening

“Nothing speaks louder to a hungry man than a meal, and nothing speaks more clearly to a doubter than the not speaking of genuine listening. To listen conveys more than any words.” Os Guinness

“Most of us find it easier to speak of the importance of an individual than to show it in practice by listening to one.” Os Guinness In Two Minds

I am reminded here of Nillson's lyrics, "Eveybody's talkin' at me, they don't hear a word I'm sayin'"

How much better this world could be if we would make even the most basic attempts to hear what others are saying, or are trying to say.

Monday, June 25, 2007

If Ever...

If ever there were forty men
who sailed the swollen sea,
If ever there were twenty
to test eternity,
If ever there were fifteen men
to trample 'pon a shore,
If ever there were seven
to knock on heaven's door,
If ever there were three,
If ever there were two...
If ever there was anyone
I knew it would be you.
Nov 22, 1996

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Re-affirmation is a necessary act in all of our ongoing relationships.
God ~ wife ~ geography ~ things
Is this what I want? Yes or no?
To reaffirm is to make it live again. It is to choose and to endorse the choice.
If the answer to this question is a negative, a "no", it reveals that the ruling principle is no longer love or choice. Instead we in a relationship of Obligation which results in Burden, disssatisfaction, irritation, frustration, etc.
Re-affirmation is a necessary step to make our relationships live again.
Nov 8, 1985

To the degree that we cannot reaffirm, to that degree we are just going through the motions as our lives are becoming hollowed out. Perhaps this is what T.S. Eliot was writing about when he wrote,

"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar...."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Article Idea

Article Title: "The Acids of This Age"
Article dealing with the forces that undermine faith of modern man.
1. Derision
2. Cynicism
3. Freud (suspicion)
4. Confusion

Other forces include mobility and busy-ness, leading to increased alienation.
What do moderns need most? Hope, says Ellul.
Nov 4, 1985

If I made a list today, would these be the same "acids" eroding hope? Superficiality would have to be on the list. Relativism also. And how universal are these elements? Is this a middle class white list? What would be on a list for Native Americans? For blacks? Hispanics? A Marxist would ask why there is no comment on economic pressures and unjust systems.

In the inner city, murder is the number one cause of death amongst young black males. Why? Because there is no hope of getting out, no hope of a better future. This absence of hope has to be a hard place to be.

What is the mindset for those in Central America, Southeast Asia, Ethiopia or Eastern Europe? Hopeful or hopeless? Alienation and despair, grim realism or cheerful optimism?

Friday, June 22, 2007

On Writing

So many of the writing mags and books seem to focus on the process of writing with the subtle message that if your words dazzle and sing, you will be a success. They seem to overlook (too often) the fact that a writer needs to have a message worth saying.

The words are a picture frame that enables us to focus on the image we share/show. But the greatest work should be the thought that conspires to produce the message, this image that reflects our inner sense and ultimately Reality as it is.

Writers abound. Wordsmiths crank out prose from any and every space large enough to set a typewriter & chair. But of prophets there are few... Content has been by-passed for the sake of craftmanship. [Nabokov so teaches and thus fails to understand the greatest minds of literature -- Tolstoy, Dostoevski, Checkov]
Oct. 30 1985
Reading this 22 years later I am reminded of the comment by Katherine Ann Porter on writers who are more concerned with flashy effects than content. "And yet, we know how fatal the pursuit of liveliness may be: it may result in... tiresome acrobatics. Flashy effects distract the mind. They destroy their persuasiveness; you would not believe a man was very intent on ploughing a furrow if he carried a hoop with him and jumped through it at every other step."
See my web page of quotes for writers at

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Freedom

Observation from William E. Simon's A Time For Truth
He compares freedom to air. It's something you take for granted until you're without it.
Sept 4, 1985

On Leadership

Peter Drucker points to the example of Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile. All runners everywhere were inspired to "press in" to this new level of achievement. A mental barrier had been abolished and many followed in the wake to new heights. Perhaps this is why Elton Trublood called Leadership "the pearl of great price."
Oct. 11, 1985

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Putting an Idea to the Test

Was very down yesterday. Intolerably sluggish until last evening as I finally got clicking on two novel/story plots. Why I want to write I do not know but it is something I seem to be pursuing. The inner battles are first, of course. "Is this really something I ought to be spending my time with?" Somehow I feel it plays right into my gifts (imagination) and a novel gives one opportunity to present a comprehensive world view -- that can be rooted in reality. Jeanne Kirkpatrick states that theories must flow out of experience or be tested by it lest they become utopian fantasies. Brave New World puts one utopian dream to the test and reveals the ugliness of it. Perhaps a weakness of much Christian doctrine is this same lack of Rootedness (in reality).
Aug. 29, 1985

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

To See or Not To See, That Is the Question

To understand the world we live in, we must first see it as it is.
Not as "trained" or manipulated to see it.
Where do our ideas come from? Our ideas about God, about right and wrong, about how we should live... are they chosen, or... what?
Journal note, Aug. 25, 1985

A long lost friend sent me this verse the other day, with the follow up explanation.

I looked to see
What I thought I saw,
But what I saw
I did not see.

"How many times do you think you see something, then turn to look and what you thought you saw wasn't what you were really looking at; in the real sense of it. On a more philosophical angle, every day we see past what's real to what we want to see, but only when we make efforts to truly see things for what they are we realize it's not what we wanted to see. Our minds and hearts trick us every day into believing what isn't real." ~ S.P.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ron's T-Group Experience

(My brother) Ron had a powerful insight as a result of the interaction in his T-group: "I am responsible for my behavior." This insight or understanding undercuts all forms of blaming. Blaming the past, blaming society, blaming family, blaming circumstances, etc.

How do these thoughts work out when juxtaposed against, "God is responsible for my life"? In what way is God responsible? In a way, doesn't God become a scapegoat when we live irresponsibly? Is it not God's will for us to learn responsibility? (Parable of the shrewd manager, Luke 16, esp. vs 10; also, parable of the 10 minas.)

Becoming like Jesus means becoming a responsible moral agent, not a passive robot.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for...

Sunday afternoon, day one.
The purpose of this blog is as yet undefined. Perhaps to share art, to share philosophy, or most likely to share insights from 30 years of journal writing. The hardest part is to begin. This little paragraph seems so small, yet it serves to set a tone. We're creating a first impression. And what, pray tell, will it be?

On my wall is a quote from Bruce Barton. "Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things... I am tempted to think there are no little things."

It is my hope that this blog site -- though at first a "little thing" -- will grow to have tremendous consequences. I will sow my seeds and hopefully someone will read them in a manner that somehow, in some way deepens their life understanding. And in that manner they shall make a difference in another's life.

Onward, then, fellow travellers, pioneers in life's great adventure. Discover yourselves and change the world.