Thursday, October 28, 2010
Author Robert Kroese - Mini-Review of "The Force Is Middling in This One" + Re-Release of "Mercury Falls"
I really enjoy the writing of Rob "Diesel" Kroese. A year ago, I reviewed his "Mercury Falls."
Review of "Mercury Falls"
I have just learned from Rob that Amazon.com has re-released the book this week.
I have recently finished reading his most recent release, "The Force is Middling in This One (And Other Ruminations from the Outskirts of the Empire)." The book is a wonderful amalgamation of previously published postings from his Blog - MattressPolice.com. The subject matter is an eclectic potpourri that left me laughing. A good example is his piece on how absurdly unsingable is the Christmas Carol, "The First Noel." I quote Kroese:
"If it were not for 'Hey Jude,' old Noel would still be on the hook for Most Needless Repetition of a Name in a Song." (Page 193)
His rant about not testing shampoo on animals will make your hair stand on end! I loved his piece on Spam being found on the Periodic Chart of elements.
If you like the sardonic humor of Christopher Moore, the Kroese is your cup of tea.
Friday, October 22, 2010
My good friend, Rick Mavrovich, spends a lot of time reading, watching and thinking about important issues. He is often kind enough to share insights and resources with his friends. So, I was delighted when he passed along the link that you find below of Daniel Pink sharing some remarkable results of research into what motivates individuals to perform at exceptional levels.
The findings are astounding and largely counter-intuitive. I will cut to the "Chase" and tell you that money ends up being a negative motivator once the person in question has enough money to pay the bills and sustain a reasonable lifestyle. And if the task at hand rises beyond the level of merely mechanical and repetitive, requiring some cognition and creativity, money becomes even less of a positive motivating force.
The three factors that do prove to provide powerful positive motivation - verified by countless studies in the fields of psychology, sociology and economics - are:
It is no surprise, then, that Rick Warren's landmark book, "The Purpose Driven Life," met with such wide acceptance.
The ramifications of these findings are far-flung - impacting each one of us who acts in a coaching, teaching, managing, parenting, mentoring role.
I commend to you Daniel Pink's memorable video:
Daniel Pink Video
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Many men and women wore purple on Wednesday to symbolize their solidarity with those who are the victims of bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation. The day was triggered by the recent wave of gay suicides resulting from bullying. The Christian community - which is anything but monolithic on this issue - is often caricatured for its intolerance and homophobia. So, I was pleased to see Jim Wallis article in today's SojoMail, the weekly e-mail-zine of spirituality, politics, and culture which is part of Sojourner Magazine. I would characterize Wallis and Sojourner as representing the "activist" wing of the evangelical Christian subculture.
I am pleased to share with you Jim's words.Christians and Bullying: Standing with Gays and Lesbians
by Jim Wallis, Sojourner Magazine
"My mother used to give us kids two instructions:
1. If there is a kid on the playground that nobody else is playing with -- you play with them.
2. If there is a bully picking on other kids -- you be the one to stand up to him or her.
Those two principles have served me well. And I can almost hear my mother's voice sometimes … like now.
On Wednesday, I wore purple. I was speaking at North Park University, an evangelical Christian college, with Tim King, my colleague and a former student there. I was pleased to see them passing out purple ribbons and announcing why just before chapel.
So I joined thousands of others across the country who believe that bullying should never be tolerated at any time, at any place, or for any reason. I wore purple to commemorate "Spirit Day," in memory of the many young people who have taken their own lives as a result of harassment and bullying inflicted on them because they are gay. I wore purple because I am a follower of Christ.
A bully is a person who habitually intimidates, harasses, or commits violence against those who are smaller, weaker, or more vulnerable because of their "outsider" status. A bully stands in opposition to all of what Christ taught and lived. There is broad opposition within the Christian community to bullying, especially the sort that leads to the deaths we have seen as of late. This sort of harassment is indefensible. And the stories of young kids being so bullied that they take their own lives has been heartbreaking to hear.
But, to paraphrase Christ, if you oppose bullying, what reward will you get? Isn't everybody against it? If all you do is say that you shouldn't harass someone until they kill themselves, are you really doing more than others?
The fact that bullies target gay and lesbian people should mean that Christians give extra attention to protecting and standing up for them. The fact that any community or group of people is regularly the target of harassment and hate means Christians should be on the front line of defense against any who would attack.
But, most bullies don't know that they are bullies. A bully might think that his or her words don't matter that much or affect others that greatly. A bully might think that he or she is being funny or just kidding around. A bully might think that he or she is just saying what everyone is thinking or speaking out about what everyone thinks.
There is disagreement within the Christian community when it comes to issues of human sexuality. But, there should be a united front against all who would disrespect, disparage, or denigrate anyone created in the image of God.
I hope you will join me in prayer for the family and friends of every young person who has taken their own lives. I hope you will join me in a message of hope for any person who has been teased, harassed, or bullied by another because of his or her sexual orientation. More than that, no matter what your views of homosexuality are, I hope you will join with me in standing in the way between bullies and their victims.
At an evangelical Christian college in the Midwest, there was a lot of purple yesterday. And the airline security official who checked my boarding pass saw my purple ribbon and said, "I see you're wearing purple today, that's a good thing."
Last week, I was taking my boys to school and raised the issue of the bullying and gay teen suicides to see what they had heard about it. My 12-year-old Luke, of course, knew all about it; while 7-year-old Jack hadn't heard yet. But Jack spoke of a boy on the playground of his school who was sometimes a bully to others. Before I could say a word, Luke said to his little brother, "Now Jack, you need to talk to him. He will respect and listen to you because you are an athlete, a good student, and very popular. Kids who are strong need to be the ones who stand up for those who get bullied. Jack, part of our job is to make sure nobody gets bullied at our school. Understand?" Jack said, "Yes," and I could just feel his grandmother smiling."
I have written in the past about the Snook family and their service to our country. I am pleased to offer this link to an article in today's Boston Herald. Jennifer Braceras writes about 1st Lt. Kyle Snook, who is home from Afghanistan recuperating from wounds sustained in an IED explosion a few weeks ago.
The picture above was taken a few days ago as Kyle was recuperating from surgery at the base hospital at West Point.
I know that Kyle would want me to remind you to keep in your prayers his men who are still in Afghanistan, and all of our men and women who are serving away from home.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
My friend, Jeff Bryan, is a young Renaissance Man. A graduate of West Point, and veteran of two deployments to Iraq, he is currently studying at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Jeff recently made me aware of a fascinating article that discusses the degree to which the relationship between literature and statesmanship has devolved in the past generations. In the August edition of Foreign Policy, Charles Hill writes convincingly of the important role that literature has played over the centuries in shaping the way that statesmen view the world and one another. Hill is diplomat in residence at Yale University.
Let me share a few paragraphs to whet your appetite to read the article in its entirety.
"Statesmen have looked at literature not only as another source of strategic insight but as a unique intellectual endeavor. Of all the arts and sciences, only literature is substantially and methodologically unbounded. Literature's freedom to explore endless or exquisite details, portray the thoughts of imaginary characters, and dramatize large themes through intricate plots brings it closest to the reality of "how the world really works." This dimension of fiction is indispensable to the strategist who cannot, by the nature of the craft, know all of the facts, considerations, and potential consequences of a situation at the time a decision must be made, ready or not. Literature lives in the realm grand strategy requires, beyond rational calculation, in acts of the imagination.
To be more specific about why literary insight is essential for statecraft, both endeavors are concerned with important questions that are only partly accessible to rational thought. Such matters as how a people begins to identify itself as a nation, the nature of trust between political actors or between a government and its people, how a nation commits itself to a more humane course of governance can't be understood without some "grasp of the ungraspable" emotional and moral weight they bear. A purely rational or technocratic approach is likely to lead one astray. A virtue of great literary works is that, while not slighting rational thought, they manage to convey the inchoate aspects of affairs within and between states to attentive readers."
I find that even in the business world and in the military, the most persuasive and articulate leaders are those who read broadly - not only in their own fields of specialization, but from the wider classical literary canon of great fiction. One final excerpt from Hill's article will give a brief tour of some the great thinkers who have valued literature as part of their arsenal of intellectual weaponry."Alexander the Great carried the Iliad with him on his eastern conquests, keeping it, Plutarch said, with a dagger under his pillow, "declaring that he esteemed it a perfect portable treasure of all military virtue and knowledge." Prior to sainthood, Thomas More read Roman poets and playwrights. Queen Elizabeth I read Cicero for rhetorical and legal strategy. Frederick the Great studied Homer's Odysseus as a model for princes. John Adams read Thucydides in Greek while being guided through the "labyrinth" of human nature by Swift, Shakespeare, and Cervantes. Abraham Lincoln slowly read through Whitman's Leaves of Grass and was changed by it. Gladstone, four times prime minister under Queen Victoria, wrote volumes of scholarly commentary on Homer and produced vivid translations -- the best kind of close reading -- of Horace's Odes. Lawrence of Arabia, who wrote himself into history as a fictional character leading Arab tribes in revolt against the Ottoman Turks, carried Malory's Morte d'Arthur, if not in his camel's saddlebags then in his head."
I commend to you the whole article:
Foreign Policy Article by Charles Hill
Thank you, Jeff, for making me aware of this fascinating article.
Friday, October 15, 2010
A Day in the Life of Boston Conservatory: A Little Ribbon Cutting by Mayor Menino - A Little Throat Slitting by Sweeney Todd
I just spent a fascinating few hours at the Boston Conservatory. Today was the day for the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the opening of the Hemenway Project, the Conservatory's new performance and rehearsal space. Today's celebration caps the efforts of hundreds of BoCo trustees, faculty, staff, donors and supporters as well as City of Boston officials over the course five years. Mayor Menino was on hand to offer words of encouragement and to wield the ceremonial scissors. He was assisted by BoCo alumnus, Tony nominee and American Idol star, Constantine Maroulis, currently in Boston appearing in Rock of Ages.
Our mayor was warm, personable and effusive in his praise of Boston Conservatory as an institution that combines two of the best features of the city - education and the arts. I have heard Mayor Menino speak on countless occasions, and this was his finest oratorical moment. He departed on several occasions from prepared remarks to make personal comments about an evening a few years ago when he and his wife attended a performance in the old BoCo theater, a superannuated space that lacked air conditioning. On the evening that he was recalling, the temperature in the theater reached 99 degrees. He regaled the audience with his quip: "With this new air conditioned theater, I don't need to worry about coming to a show and having to wear my Speedo!" BoCo President, Richard Ortner introduced other dignitaries in the crowd, including Board Chairman, Al Houston. The Boston Conservatory Cabaret, under the musical direction of Liam Forde, entertained the crowd with the aptly chosen "The Best of Times is Now."
As you can see from the photo above, Constantine Maroulis appeared for the ribbon cutting in stunning tonsorial splendor - which conveniently allows me to segue into discussing a certain barber: Sweeney Todd - the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Sondheim's classic Grand Guignol musical has been chosen as the Main Stage production at BoCo for this semester. With the permission of the Director, Neil Donohoe, head of BoCo's Musical Theater Department, I stayed for the cast's run-through of Act 2. From what I observed, this show may be the best thing done as a Main Stage production at BoCo in a long while.
Let me give you some reasons to get on the phone and order your tickets right now. The ensemble is perfectly cast - and Broadway ready. I have a bit of a history with this show, having seen the original Broadway production twice - the first time with Len Cariou as Sweeney and the inimitable Angela Lansbury as Mr. Lovett. The second time I sat in the audience at the Uris Theater, Angela was still in the role of the villainous pie maker, and Sweeney was portrayed by George Hearn. This cast of BoCo students - even in an early stage rehearsal with no costumes, no props, no final blocking - was stunning in their energy and execution (pun intended!). Sondheim is notorious for his difficult rhythms, lyrics and harmonies, yet the singing was spectacular. At the risk of leaving out many worthy of note here, several cast members caught my eye in this brief preview of what will doubtless be a memorable final product. Robert Lance Mooney in the role of Sweeney Todd is chilling, frightening and mesmerizing. His performance alone will be well worth the price of admission. Other cast members that bear watching are Dan Rosales as Tobias, Julie Thomas as Mrs. Lovett, Daniel George as Pirelli, Trent Mills as Judge Turpin, Marissa Miller as Johanna, Spencer Glass as the Beadle, Elizabeth Berg as The Begger Woman, Mike Heslin as Anthony. The ensemble was particularly impressive in the lunatic asylum scene, each actor evoked their particular madness with a unique mannerism, tic, or grimace.
I usually judge a successful evening at the theater by whether I have been moved to tears at some point, and also experience the frisson of chills running up and down my spine. I don't want much - merely transcendence! How rare it is to experience such things in an early rehearsal.
I plan to be in the new theater - the ribbon having been duly cut today - when the curtain rises on the finished product of Sweeney Todd, which opens on Thursday, October 28. I would love to have you join me for a memorable, spine-tingling, tear-inducing, wonderful and transcendent evening of theater. Come and see Broadway's future stars at less than Broadway prices. There will be performances throughout that weekend, ending with a Sunday matinee on the 31st.
Visit the Boco website to order tickets or call the Box Office at (617) 912-9222 during business hours, Monday-Friday, 12pm-6pm.
Sweeney Todd Tickets
Order your tickets now. There are tickets left for each performance, but they will not last long once the word gets around about how great this show is going to be.
Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
My good friend, Anthony Carnicelli, has recently embarked on the long journey that will lead from medical school to earning an M.D. Tony, whom I met several baseball seasons ago at a game at Fenway Park, is a true Renaissance Man. How many people have you encountered who are medical students whose undergraduate degree is from Berklee College of Music?
The exchange begins with Anthony’s “Thank You” note to Dr. Caldwell:
Hi Dr Caldwell,
I’d like to take a moment to thank you again for generously volunteering your time to show me around the Highland Hospital OR today. I can tell you that this was a most enjoyable and informative experience. As we discussed earlier, my goals for today were to explore the different surgical subspecialties, learn what it is like to come to work daily as a surgeon, and learn about the process of deciding to pursue a career in surgery. I feel as though I was able to gather a solid introductory knowledge of these concepts and I am excited to learn more about surgery in the future.
Probably the thing that struck me the most about today was the high level of precision and efficiency with which the surgeons at Highland Hospital worked. As you now know I often equate things in life to music. The musical correlation that first came to my mind while watching the laparoscopic hernia repair was that of an orchestral composer choosing notes in his orchestral voicings. Each piece of music is different in its own way, so not just any note will suffice just as not just any incision, surgical instrument, or procedural guideline will suffice. Maybe that which makes a fine surgeon is also that which makes a fine composer? Either way, my time with you today has given me much food for thought.
Thank you again and I look forward to working with you again in the future.
Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful response follows:
Thank you very much for your kind note. I am pleased to learn that the experience met your goals for the day. It was a wonderful experience for me as well - you demonstrated uncommon observational skills and the ability to ask penetrating, interesting (and, at times, unanswerable questions!). I was intrigued by your analysis of repetitions in music - the need for familiarity/connection (I had never thought of it this way).
And no one in my many years of teaching has likened an operation to orchestral voicings. I think that is an insightful analogy, but I would also point out that the surgeon often deals with the unexpected, the unknown anatomical terrain (as we saw today in the redo gastric bypass) and thus has to improvise. He was treading where there was no script, no immutable notes to follow.
Most incisive of all was your question as to what makes for the "great" surgeon. I hope I gave a halfway decent answer to a question never before asked of me by a medical student! I should add that those who cannot "slice" (I love that verb!) correctly, who do not have good results as measured by the weekly reviews of outcomes, will soon lose their operating privileges in that hospital. The more I think about it I believe it is fair to say that all the surgeons you saw/met today are competent surgeons. It is true that the outstanding surgeons in academia are those who are innovative or, at the least, deal with the most complicated cases successfully - something the average surgeon could not typically accomplish. What distinguishes most others as being "good" surgeons is their ability to communicate - their ability to listen, to be responsive to the individual patient's needs, to be empathetic.
So, as the experience today has given you much food for thought, so too have you given me a new perspective on surgery and its connection to the world of music.
I look forward to more time together, so please do keep in touch.
With kindest regards,
P.S. Did you know that the operating room is often referred to as the "theatre"? This stems from the fact that in medieval times anatomical dissections and operations were performed before a gallery of students in a "theatre" (steep banks of benches overlooking the dissector, the surgeon - the "performer").
These thoughts and sentiments truly resonated with me, since they echo many of the interdisciplinary themes I often address in The White Rhino Report, and that have made up the subject matter of The White Rhino Intersection and Intersection 2.0. So, I wanted to explore if it might be possible to share this unique interchange with my readers. Here is Anthony’s gracious request for permission to share publicly what had begun as a private conversation:
Thank you for this email and for your insight. Earlier today I was actually sharing your thoughts with a very close friend of mine who writes Internet articles about cross-disciplinary integration, often in the realm of humanities and sciences. His name is Dr Alan Chase. He was very intrigued and is wondering if he could use some of the information from your email to write a piece about “The Operating Room Theatre.” Would you be opposed to him writing about this? Please feel free to tell me if you are. Thanks again
And here is Dr. Caldwell’s equally gracious reply:
I am flattered that Dr. Chase would want to write something about the "theatre". Of course, he should feel free.
I checked out his blog and profile and found that he is indeed a Renaissance man. He must be delightful to talk with.
I was very interested to learn that he attended Governor Dummer Academy from which my father graduated before attending MIT. I remember so well my father talking about the academy and thinking what a really dumb name for a school.
In checking out his blog I was further interested to see his review of Bill Bryson's latest book. Have you read any of his books? I started "A Short History of Just About Everything," but found the going a bit heavy. However, before our trip to Australia I read "In a Sunburned Country". Without a doubt it is one of the funniest "travel" books I have ever read (and informative). His description of the rather "tedious" (my word) game of cricket is hysterical.
I am enjoying our conversations Anthony.
With warm regards,
A final note of thank from Anthony to Dr. Caldwell:
I will most certainly pass on your permission to my friend Dr Chase. You are absolutely right about his being a renaissance man. I am very lucky to have Al as one of my dearest friends, we have shared much over the years and he has taught me a great deal about life.
Actually I have not yet had the chance to read any of Bill Bryson’s work, but I’ll now be adding him to my growing post-HSF reading list. Please don’t trouble yourselves too much in searching for goggles. I do appreciate the effort very much, but if need be I have no problem with taking frequent trips outside the lab for a brief formaldehyde reprieve.
Have a nice night and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
If it is in the mode of this kind of a free-wheeling Socratic dialogue that the next generation of physicians are being trained, the future of medicine looks bright. Clearly, Dr. Caldwell and the future Dr. Carnicelli and their ilk bring a dual commitment to mastering the technical aspects of medicine and surgery and the intangible skills and world view that allow them to view the patients as a whole human being – more than a fascinating collection of organs, systems and symptoms.
I forgive Dr. Caldwell his remark about the name of my alma mater – Governor Dummer Academy. The Board of Trustees must have agreed with him, because that venerable institution has been re-christened “The Governor’s Academy.”
A hearty thank you to Dr. Caldwell and Anthony Carnicelli for graciously inviting us to overhear their conversation in the “Theater of Learning.”
Veritas Forum's Timely Contribution to Thoughtful Discourse about Faith: Review of "A Place for Truth," edited by Dallas Willard
Since The Veritas Forum was born in 1992, I have watched with great interest its ever-expanding influence on university campuses across the United States and the world. The Forum grew out of the landmark book by Kelly Monroe Kullberg, "Finding God at Harvard." I read the book with fascination as it recounted the storied of Harvard students, faculty, staff and alumni who shared how they found themselves drawn to faith while within the gravitational field of Harvard University. While originally founded as a training ground for ministers to serve in the parishes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard University has wandered far from its original vision and religious roots. So, it was a breath of fresh air for me to read about and then to meet women and men whose faith flourished in what others have found to be a spiritual desert.
For almost twenty years, The Veritas Forum staff have worked with campus leaders to sponsor events that promote open, honest and civil dialogue between Christian intellectuals and those who do not share that same faith. "A Place for Truth," captures excerpts from some of the most impactful of the addresses and dialogues that have taken place during Veritas Forum events.
I found it encouraging and significant that the Foreword to the book was penned by Dr. Harry Lewis, former Dean of Harvard College. He states very eloquently the need for a book such as this:
"The essays in this book are based on talks about some of the big questions of life. The discussions took place in universities, not as part of the daily life of the academic family but instead at events sponsored by The Veritas Forum. It is awkward to take up sch questions within the academy itself, unless they can be reduced to matters of psychology or cultural study. And yet students ask questions when they are alone under starry skies or in the blaze of city lights, when they confront decisions affecting the lives of their loved ones, and when they are faced with pivotal decisions about their own lives. The discomforts attendant on this search for the truth are afflictions of the young for which college education offers little aid. I am not among those who regret the departure of God from the academy. I join the atheists in their skepticism about scientific proof of the existence of God or of any meaningful argument for God's existence that is not subject to scientific verification. Yet I regret the extent to which God took with him, when he left the classroom, questions of values and morals and purposes with which young people struggle today as they always have. As much as ever, a good education owes students guidance on examining their own lives." (pages 8-9)
And so it is that The Veritas Forum - in its events and its publications - seeks to fill the vacuum of reasonable discourse on issues of faith that was created when God was summarily expelled from much of the realm of academia - its campuses and classrooms. I found the tone of the essays and conversations offered in this book to be refreshing. These are respectful and civil conversations - not those of zealots screaming at one another across a vast chasm of divergent beliefs and contradictory cosmologies. Instead, respected and learned scholars such as Os Guiness, Richard John Neuhaus, Tim Keller, Francis Collins, Mary Polin, Ron Sider, et al. offer their carefully reasoned arguments for embracing faith or rejecting it. The subtitle of the book lets us know exactly what to expect to find between the covers: "Leading Thinkers Explore Life's Hardest Questions."
This is exactly the kind of book which I will stockpile on my book shelf and give to those I meet who are open to thinking deeply and critically about issues of faith. We owe Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Dallas Willard, Dan Cho and Sarah Park a debt of gratitude for gleaning from the best thinkers their thoughts on these critical issues such as Truth, Faith and Science, Atheism, Meaning and Humanity, Christian Worldview and Social Justice.
Whether you are someone in the early stages of wrestling with these issues or you are further along the road and still refining your thoughts and beliefs, you will find great value in this book.
To learn more about The Veritas Forum, I encourage you to visit their website:
The Veritas Forum
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Three New Senior Level Job Opportunities for a Leading Financial Services Firm in Southern CT - Not For the Faint of Heart!
I have been asked to expand my searches for talent for a leading financial services firm in Southern CT. They are growing, and looking for people who are the best of the best.
The latest batch of positions are senior level positions in the back of the house that require technical skills and background. Three particular positions I am focusing on at the moment are:
Data Team Lead
The Trading Department has an opening for a Data Team Lead. The Data Team Lead will be responsible for building a team and developing key competencies in data management for the department. The data group will be responsible for all aspects of the coverage, quality and timeliness of data provided to and generated within the Trading department. This is a key role, instrumental in the planning, prioritization and execution of strategic projects, as well as the day-to-day operations required to manage data for and provide data to the department.
Accounting Technical Lead
The Back Office Technology Team is looking for an experienced technical lead or manager who has experience dealing with the many challenges facing a Back Office Accounting Department. The successful candidate will have been managing or leading a small team of developers for at least 5 years. This person needs to be passionate about technology and have proven experience in transformational efforts. It is also important that the candidate have strong communication skills and a strong sense of values. In the Back Office Tech team, technical leads will be involved in projects ranging in complexity from weeks to months to years. They will be responsible for managing and mentoring a team of developers and ensuring that industry best practices are enforced. The accounting technical lead will also collaborate with other technical leads within Back Office Tech as well as the Development Manager in envisioning and defining the technical architecture for the department. The new architecture will be flexible, extensible, supportable, secure, allow for agile development, and allow for integration with third party applications/packages. The successful candidate will thrive in a dynamic, challenging environment.
Senior Business Analyst
Our business analysts are an integral part of our Development team. They provide a critical link between our business users and the developers. We are looking for bright individuals capable of quick immersion in the specifics of our domain. The individual will need to make a quick impact, help mature our requirements gathering process and take on the longer-term responsibility of testing, all in partnership with the user community. The candidate should have the ability to lead a small team of Business analysts.
The ideal candidate will have experience with requirements management and software development methodology and have worked extensively with business users, programmers, and QA. This individual will have a strong background in business analysis and possess a high level of comfort with technology.
Please pass this information along to anyone in your network who may be qualified and interested in learning more details.
Have them contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.orgThanks.
Over the years, I have been the recipient of many blessings as a result of the ministry of Bill Hybels and his team at Willow Creek Community Church. I have read many of Hybels' books and grown thereby. I have attended worship at Willow and participated in a service of baptism in which a close friend was being baptized. I have watched as that same friend grew in his faith as a result of several ministry initiatives at Willow, and saw him grow in his commitment to serving others through Willow Creek endeavors as far afield as Africa.
Hybels' latest book offering is "The Power of a Whisper - Hearing God - Having the Guts to Respond." I received this book in the mail within a couple of days of having heard Pastor Hybels speak in NYC as part of the recent Movement Day. His message from the platform that day echoed much of what he has written in this book. The message is both simple and profound: God has always been in the habit of communicating directly to His people; we should still be listening to and responding to that "still, small voice."
Using a variety of personal anecdotes, biblical and historical references and the testimonies of contemporary men and women of faith, Hybels has assembled a challenging and inspiring set of vignettes and reflections. This is a book I plan to give away to encourage others.
Here, in Hybels' own words, is the crux of his thesis: "The ability to discern divine direction has saved me from a life of sure boredom and self-destruction. God's well-timed words have redirected my path, rescued me from temptation, and re-energized me during some of my deepest moments of despair."
This book will be equally helpful to those who are solidly established on the path of following God, and to those whose path is more that of spiritual doubt and searching. Hybels' transparency in sharing some of his own missteps along the way makes the book all the more powerful and the author all the more accessible.
File this book under "must read." I say this - not in a whisper - but in a shout!
Monday, October 04, 2010
Typically, when I want to go to Wonderland, I jump on the T and head for the Blue Line and Revere Beach. A few days ago, my journey to Wonderland took me on the Red Line to Harvard Square and the A.R.T.’s Loeb Performance Center for the current production of “Alice vs. Wonderland.” This version of the familiar story is Lewis Carroll’s coming of age tale re-imagined by the author, Brendan Shea and directed by the always imaginative Hungarian director, Janos Szasz.
The minimalist set designed by Riccardo Hernendez worked very well on the Loeb stage. Wires hung at the center of the stage taper to a vanishing point upstage at the doorway, enabling illusions of shrinking and growing – elements that are integral to the Alice saga. One of the innovations in this telling of the fairy tale was to use six different actors to portray Alice. The actors were Asian, Afro-American, and Caucasian. So, this ploy worked insofar as it presented Alice as “Every Woman” or “Every Girl.” It backfired for me, however, in that I found myself not emotionally engaged with any of the carousel of Alices. I found myself not really caring about her dilemma. In that regard, the train to Wonderland went off the tracks a bit.
In the author’s notes, Shea makes explicit what is implicit on stage: “Wonderland, to me, represents the gauntlet each of us must go through on our way to adulthood.” Even with the understanding that the story of Alice’s adventures is intended to be a topsy-turvy, confusing romp, I found it difficult to see all of the vignettes coalescing into a meaningful whole. The overall feel for me at the end of the evening was that I had wandered into a dress rehearsal for a performance by a very gifted troupe of improvisational actors. And what an ensemble cast it is. Drawn from the student body of the A.R.T./Moscow Arts Theater’s Institute for Advanced Theater Training, the cast of young actors were terrific. Their energy, creativity, versatility and sense of fun and whimsy carried the evening. It was their artistry that at the end of the day made my evening in Wonderland a worthwhile journey through the looking glass.
The show runs through Saturday, October 9. I encourage you to see it.