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“Wall Street has a credibility problem.”. So says CNBC.com. Thanks for that news flash, although it understates the obvious and what we all are likely thinking and feeling these days. “The Street” has no “Street Cred”, it seems.

Mean what you say; say what you mean. Why is that so hard in 21st century society? I will confess it is tough for me personally.

Why so? Great expectations? High demand? Limited resources? Unrealistic dreams? A twisted view of self worth, not to mention true value?

Is it Competition? Competing demands; competing loyalties; competing.

Consider the following excerpt from “WiseGeek.com” and then compare it in perspective:

In hip-hop and inner-city cultures, respect is something one earns through tangible accomplishments, not empty posturing or superficial bragging. The truest measure of a person’s trustworthiness and expertise is often expressed as his or her street cred, short for “street credibility.” Street cred can mark the difference between a talented rapper or break dancer and someone who’s only posing, or deliberately exaggerating their skills.

True street cred is not easy to achieve, since it is based on real skills or true experiences. A rap artist who gets signed to a known music label, for example, might earn his “props” (proper respect), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has earned street cred yet….

The term street cred has actually worked its way into mainstream popular culture. A professional in the legal, financial or medical fields, for example, may have to earn a certain amount of “street cred” in order to attract the best potential clients. A cosmetic surgeon often builds up a significant level of street cred by performing high quality work on A-list clients. The same could be said for a stock broker who earned his street cred by selecting the best stocks, or a lawyer who earned street cred by successfully defending high-profile clients.

Street cred in the inner-city or hip-hop communities is not always a permanent arrangement, however. Someone who shows disrespect for those in his or her former community, for example, may suddenly discover his or her street cred is no longer assured. Exposure as a fraud or a cheat can also seriously affect a person’s street cred. It is important to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” when it comes to maintaining true street cred.

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I’m reminded of the scene from the classic movie “Napoleon Dynamite” where he asks Pedro “you got any skills? You know, bow staff skills, nun chuck skills…”

We feel compelled to make our case, but in so doing, do we ever weaken same said case?

I think Jesus earned plenty of “Street Cred” with those around him:

Matthew 5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

So, it’s time to go out and make it a day; to “earn my Props”, so to speak. If I slip up, maybe Pedro’s cousins will be there to back me up…?

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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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In this “Switch” moment, I’m reminded of Charlie Sheen, the famed crazed film star who has quite possibly ruined his career, if not his life. Charlie may not choose to “Switch!” for the better, but his employer network certainly has. CBS has made the switch, and they are moving on without him. It kind of makes you wonder if all the crazy acting in “Hot Shots” and other projects was really acting at all.

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And it got me to thinking. Sorry to spoil the fun.

Sherry has Rheumatoid Arthritis. We’ve covered it all before. One of the greatest blessings of living in the 21st Century is the advent of new medications. But, can blessings and curses come from the same needle? Quite possibly. Quite possibly.

You see, there are the side effects. Aside from that, the drugs don’t always work. No scientist or doctor has ever cracked the code sufficient to tell you how a unique human being’s body will respond, act, and react. “Hot shots”, indeed.

Things are not working so well, medicinally. Unlike the picture above, Sherry’s no chicken. She is a brave trooper, and is searching for the best right path. A “Switch!” is in order. If you, dear reader are a friend and acquaintance, or not, please be in prayer that this switch will be the right one. A few weeks to go, and we should know soon enough.

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Statistics are strange things.    Some say you can make statistics say anything you want them to say.    I can see how that is possible, but it’s not something I like to believe.   I like the phrase “numbers don’t lie” as a better reflection of what I’m out to do in life.    As an accountant, hopefully that is always a good thing?

Accordingly, I look at the site statistics on WordPress to see if anyone is reading, and if so, what they are reading.    The things that generate feedback, where viewership is not anonymous, are telling to me as well.   The results are sometimes surprising, and give me some insight into what I say, how I say it, and when (and how often I say it).

Then numbers crossed 2000 total views on WordPress in the past few days, not counting 100 or so views in the 18 months or so on BlogSpot that preceeded this space.    2052 total views to date; 125 posts; 7 months elapsed.     Average (mean) daily views, around 10 per day.     High day, 73, Low day 1.    High post, 99 (and counting); Low post, 1.   Median post (A Society Short on Grace, 11 reads, 2/24/11).

A decade or so ago, our university had a campaign they were calling “2000 by 2000; the campaign for scholarship”.    That title passed thru my brain as I saw the view counter was over 2000.    The university’s campaign was an effort to reach as many students as possible by the year 2000, and represented a significant growth/stretch goal.    As an accountant, writing to make myself better and hopefully help someone else along the way is my own growth/stretch goal.    I want to go beyond the numbers, so to speak.

Why does any of this matter, you may say?   So may I.     But much like “2000 by 2000”, I want this to reach out to someone, and not just be a cathartic exercise for only me.      If only one person reads and appreciates something from the blog, then mission accomplished.     That may be my kids, after I’m gone, or it may be someone in the here and now.    I don’t really need to know, but I take heart that, at least as of this writing, the campaign continues….

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