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Archive for the ‘erosion’ Category

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It starts. And then, it was gone.

Anti – A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice.

Trust – Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; Custody; care.

Both words are nouns. And when you put them together? Antitrust? It has to do with preventing unfair competition, monopolies, and the like.

If you have been keeping up, the NBA is in a lockout, which is a funny way of saying a strike. Players won’t play, I mean, work, and owners won’t pay. Neither, apparently, will they quirk.

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The fans, however, are a different story, and yours truly is moving that direction too. Consider the following words from a couple of OKC Thunder fans:

It makes me question my decision to be a fan of the players by using my discretionary income to purchase season tickets. Instead, that money could easily pay for a nice family vacation each year going forward. I think the union and its players are out of touch with the people who support them the most…the fan base!”

“I just hope both sides know that as a whole, they are essentially burning $4 billion in revenue for themselves and hurting the communities these teams are in. OKC loses prestige, morale, community and money. It kills me to know that we won’t be able to come together as a city anymore and celebrate something great we have here.”

There is a saying is sports that “Mo changes jerseys fast”. Momentum, that is. The same is true of the fans. When you take away the energy, excitement, and euphoria of the game itself, and all you have left is the infighting and finger pointing among multi millionaires, working class fans get disenfranchised pretty fast. Just consider for a moment what the Thunder players lost in one payday:

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So, here we are. Fans are getting tired of the drama, and are figuring out what to do with the money they used to spend on tickets, jerseys, little Rumble dolls, and the like, and, more importantly are re-discovering good ways to use the time. If and when play resumes, the fans may be slow to return. If decertification of the Players Union results in complete free agency and the dismantling of fan adored teams, the mystique may be gone for a long, long time.

The point of this rant? I’m disenfranchised, that much is true. I feel sorry for the regular Joes who are out of work due to this issue, and I feel sorry for OKC.

The momentum is gone. So too, is the trust, at least for now. Call me the anti-fan. It is going to take some work to draw us back.

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*pictures, quotes, and salary data courtesy of the Daily Oklahoman Sports”.

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“How dare you?”, meet “Dare I not?”.

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People complain. That is a fact of life. People make mistakes. That is another fact of life. Sometimes, mistakes take on the form of fatal errors, and that is a hard reality.

Without getting into the details, we all likely know of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and his living legend status, and most of us have likely heard of the recent sad allegations toward his program and his presumed knowledge and complicit failure to act in doing the right thing, albeit the hard thing.

“No one person is bigger than the institution”. I have heard that repeated many times, and I believe it. But, when you feel like you are above reproach or questioning, then you may have a problem. People change. Life changes. Environments generate stresses, and stresses generate responses. The only constant in that, I might suggest, is character, and character dictates/mandates proper responses and openness even when the exercise is difficult or painful.

People complain. My job requires that I listen. How you do that, both well and appropriately, is a constant challenge. Some complaints are silly. Some complaints are vindictive. Others have merit, and merit response. How you sift through those is cumbersome, and at times unpleasant. But sift, you must. If you ever believe you have risen above that, you are in danger of falling. I think that’s what humility is all about.

People have complained about me before, and at times it has really made me angry, but it should not define me or change me in ways that are not for the best.

Joe P has been criticized in recent years for staying in the job too long, and having his effectiveness level pass him by. That may be true, or it may not. That assertion is likely subject to interpretation. What is not is that “something bad was happening in Oz; under the surface, behind the scenes”, and that Joe P turned a blind eye.

I have two mentors, legendary icons of an institution’s history, who were not afraid to take on hard things, but were also not afraid to change their roles over time and “surrender the high ground” to those better able to scale rocky heights and have the stamina to do hard things. I appreciate their legacy and example, and hope and plan to have the courage and fortitude to do the same when the time is right. In the mean time, I wish to continue to climb the rocks, and should be accepting of the bruises that come with it.

“The wise man built his house upon the rock”…”the foolish man built his house upon the sand”…”and the rains came falling down”. Sometimes, we have to be willing to step off the field of play and climb up on the Rock, even when it hurts.

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“Outlive Your Life”.   The latest and greatest book by Max Lucado bears just that title.   As we look around Vienna this week, I can’t help but think that being remembered into perpetuity was at the heart of those with money and power over the ages.

One of the largest “tourist spots” in Vienna, ironically, is the Cathederal in the city center named after Saint Stephan, Stephansdom.   The Holy Roman Emporer Frederick, who died in 1494 shortly after the time Columbus discovered “the new world”, is entombed inside the cathederal.   The following is what Wikipedia has to share about his burial site: The construction of Emperor Frederick’s tomb spanned over 45 years, starting 25 years before his death. This impressive sarcophagus is made of the unusually dense red marble-like stone found at the Adnet quarry. Carved by Niclaes Gerhaert van Leyden, the tomb lid shows Emperor Frederick in his coronation regalia surrounded by the coats of arms of all of his dominions. The body of the tomb has 240 statues and is a glory of medieval sculptural art.

Interestingly enough, I’ve been inside Stephansdom several times over the past few years, but I’ve never been motivated to make a pilgrimage over to Frederick’s tomb, nor did I even truly realize who he was or that he was buried there until reading about the history of the building on the web last night.   I wonder how many visitors to Stephansplatz can say the same thing?   Whatever his intentions, which seem fairly obvious by the devotion to constructing his tomb, I’m not sure Frederick is outliving his life, in the truest sense of the phrase.

While I have yet to read Lucado’s book in its entirety, I have been through the first chapter, and understand the spirit of the message to be that by making a difference in the lives of others today, specifically with the example of trying to stamp out world hunger, we are changing the world, and thereby we are outliving our life.

Gutenberg is another great example.   Here is someone who created the ability to print and place copies of the Bible into the hands of the common man and woman.    Dare I say that Gutenberg has made a huge difference in the world and in the lives of countless millions?   Certainly more that Emporer Frederick.    And yet, how many even realize who Gutenberg was?   We don’t have his picture, although we have painted portraits.   The Europeans have been kind enough to erect statues.   But when you open your Bible in Oklahoma, or Vienna, Austria, or Xian, China, you don’t see his picture and a link to his blog or other writings.    All the same, he truly did outlive his life.

What about us today?   We blog.   We take pictures.   We leave mementos for others.   But, may I argue, that is not what outliving our life is all about.   On the plane over the other night, my neighbor in 38E talked about his view of Heaven, and that it is the memories we leave behind with our friends and family, but that when those people are gone, so are we.   No real Heaven exists, essentially, in his view.   How sad.    In recent years I have collected pieces from the homes of my now deceased grandmothers.   I have black and white portraits from generations of family, some whom I remember, some whom I never met.   But they all tell a story.   I have a few tangible mementos, from furniture to small decorative pieces, from both homes in my office.   I have my grandfather’s New Testament that he carried with him into the Pacific Theater in the 1940’s.   I have a few of my other grandfather’s engineering guides, even though I’m not an engineer, and I unfortunately never saw enough of his life to develop a relationship.     And yet, they continue to outlive their life, not through these tangible “hand me downs”, but through the impact they made in the lives of their children and others.    I continue to encounter people in my walk who knew my grandparents, and who say great things about the difference the relationship made in their lives.   And, these people are changed for the better, and they will hand that down, and those people will hand that down, and so on, and so on.

So, to my point?   How do we outlive our life?   We can try to make a difference in stamping out world hunger, as Mr. Lucado suggests.   That is good.   But, each of us can’t do that alone.   May I suggest we take it one moment at a time, one person at a time, and do our best to make a lasting impression for the good, and not for bad.   There is, and has been, enough of that in this world.   Which leads me to and leaves us with the greatest person to walk this earth in human form and outlive their life.   Amen.

Hebrews 9:23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I will now go about trying to outlive my life this day.   Along the way, I’ll have to succeed in outliving yesterday’s Wienerschnitzel…

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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You smell eternal. You smell for eternity. Two similar phrases, but much different connotations. It’s all in the twist of the words.

Reaching the mid point, and quite possibly beyond, in life’s great timeline has come with a myriad of personal realizations. One of those realizations deals with aromas. I don’t necessarily always smell “the best”.

“That’s not saying much, oh Socrates of the social media realm”, you may say to me. And remember, they sentenced the big S to death for his teachings. “But Socrates, hemlock is poisonous…”, but I digress.

The scented reality comes down to this simple point: How do you come across to others? I had a co-worker begin a meeting in his office recently by asking me if I had just come from visiting the nearby retirement center. He was serious; he smelled “old” in the water. I, too, upon venturing into my closet in recent times have wondered where the octogenarian might be hiding out. It’s a far cry from, and much less acidic than, this space’s aforementioned “teen spirit” that is often present on number one son.

So, what to do? Two of the ladies in my life, Little Frau and Littler Frauline, recently addressed the issue on Fathers Day. They know how they want me to smell for the next few years of eternity. They want me to smell “Eternal”.

Eau de cologne is a delicate thing to put to use. Apply too little, and and it probably is only a nice gesture. Apply too much, and the eyes begin to water on your Facebook friends all the way out on the Left Coast. It is all in the wrist. I last had “cologne”, Polo, to be specific, as a college student. It, too, was a gift from a frauline, but I don’t think old age was the concern. My dad once “borrowed” some of it when he was about the age I am today, but he took the after shave approach to the application. He, his suit, and his car smelled like a “come on too strong” TV commercial for what seemed like a week.

“So where is the always forthcoming analogous application, oh scented Socrates?”, you might say at this point, and you would be spot on in your assessment of this verbal jaunt.

The unscented reality comes down to this simple point: How do you come across to others? And, I don’t mean the presence thru the nostrils. What kind of persona, experience, and “life aroma” do you and I give off when in the presence of others? What “life aroma” do we sense in ourselves in our “closet moments”? Is it old? Is it youthful and acidic? Is it treated, but too heavy and full of suggestion?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says: But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

The NLT equivalent, vs the NIV, says “Christ like fragrance“, and “life giving perfume“. Sounds much nicer than “an aroma that brings death”. So, how do we get there?

To quote a Stamps Baxter song of old “Precious Jesus, hold my hand”. It’s all in the wrist.

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A perfectly good piece of concrete; and, a perfectly prepared pad site, at one time.   But time, traffic, rushing currents, and neglect have all worked to undermine this once great picnic site.    It’s called erosion, and it will be the undoing of this place, sooner, or later.

The potential analogies here are myriad: health, financial condition, faith, relationships, and the list could go on.

What causes erosion? Several conditions, as referenced in the opening analogy, but asking the question more directly, what allows erosion to occur? Simply put, doing nothing.

You see, good folks with the Oklahoma Parks and Wildlife program built that site to be enjoyed, and they built it to last. But the rushing currents have washed precious underpinning soil down into the lake below.

Hopefully it can be shored up before it fails, and someone gets hurt in the process.

Jesus had a thing or two to say to us about solid foundations in Luke 6:47-49:

47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

So, whether your construction is a relationship, your faith, your family, or otherwise, shore things up, or better yet, build first or rebuild on The Rock.

Rushing currents of life beware: no ongoing future erosion allowed.

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