Cross Gender Friendships

Juliet Lapidos of Slate magazine has been writing a series on Friendships Between Men and Women this week. I highly recommend it. Especially, if you enjoyed Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women by Dan Brennan. Haven’t read it yet? What are you waiting for?

Seriously, the subject of Cross Gender Friendships is becoming a hot topic even outside of Evangelical Christian circles. Get in on the beginning of a trend…You heard it here first!

Published in: on 09/30/2010 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reading For the Blind Wasn’t Like This When I Did It

When I was college, several lifetimes ago, I was a DJ at the college radio station where I attended, WRKC-FM. WRKC aired a program from 10am to noon called the Radio Home Visitor. RHV as it is known is designed as an outreach to those who in Luzerne County, PA who are visually impaired. I was a reader on and off for the show for the 4 years I was at King’s College. RHV’s mission is to read the daily newspaper (a day late) emphasizing non-breaking stories. Weddings, funerals, birth announcements, Letters to the Editor are the staples of the program. The main purpose was to keep the visually impaired up on the types of news that just isn’t available from other sources, making sure that all of those everydaybits of information are available to them.

It is with this background that I read with interest the following story via NPR. “Just How It Sounds: Reading ‘Playboy’ To The Blind”.

By day, Suzi Hanks is a DJ at a classic radio station in Houston, Texas. It’s what she does after work that makes people’s ears blush.

Hanks volunteers with Taping for the Blind, an organization that makes audio recordings of popular books and magazines. When she started the gig three years ago, they put her to work reading pet publications.

What I found to be the most interesting part of the story is that Hanks actually describes the photos as part of the reading. While reading for the RHV I don’t remember describing all that many photos even if they went with the story. Of course, the photos that we had available for description wasn’t quite as interesting as those in Playboy.

Reading through some of the comments on the NPR site and Facebook page, it seems that there are some who object to Playboy being read for the visually impaired.  Although I don’t read Playboy, I really don’t have any objection to having it read. People with impairments and disabilities have sex lives as well. Their spouses have to be very special people because of some of the impediments that the disabilities can present. Why not?

If you do follow the link to the NPR story, do listen to the story. There are some edited samples of her describing the photos. It really does help to flesh out the story.

Published in: on 09/19/2010 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fear Factor

Listen to the news for even a short time and you’ll hear a long list of things that we are told that we need to fear. Crime, the economy, politicians, job loss, Muslims,al Qaida, and oh, did I mention the economy? While many items on the list are things that we should be aware of and in some cases even concerned about, fear is not the correct response.

Fear is actually a very complex set of psychological and physiological responses. God designed fear for the times when your life is in immediate danger. Say, when you are being chased by a wild animal, or you’re trying to avoid being hit by a car, or even trying not to hit someone with your car. Fear causes what is known as the “fight or flight” reaction. You brain tells your body of  immediate, life threatening danger, your body responds by dumping adrenaline into your blood stream. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to go up, your mouth to turn dry, and a whole bunch of other reactions that help your body escape (or minimize) physical harm. Being in a constant state of  fear is detrimental to your health. Without going into all of the gory details, being in constant fear causes your blood pressure to rise and can contribute to heart attack and stroke.

Fear also gets your attention and keeps it until it goes away. When you are fearful, the threat is the only thing that you will pay attention to. Consider if your car starts to skid,  you’re certainly not going to pay attention to what is playing on the radio!

It’s the attention getting function that politicians, pundits, and the media like about fear. It seems that the more frightened and fearful you become, the more that you listen to their message. Since, September 11,2001 the fear factor has been in full swing. By getting us to be fearful, both Liberals and Conservatives have grabbed our attention and made us afraid. Afraid of another attack, the other side, al Qaida, the Taliban, Islam, and whatever else they can think of. Fear boosts their ratings, it drives elections, and gives pundits something to talk about where no knowledge is required.

What is disturbing to me is the amount of people, who claim to be Christian, who fall into the fear trap. The amount of confessing Christians who are convinced that some sort of tragedy will occur if the wrong person is elected, if a particular bill is or isn’t passed. One thing that I have noticed is the number of Christians who are fearful of what is  occurring. In any case, fear is not the correct reaction for a Christian. We are told in the Bible that we are more than conquerors and yet we act with fear. It astounds me that the same people who will post Bible verse after Bible verse will also talk about how we should be fearful of whatever political circumstance happens by. For those who are Christians, don’t let the spirit of fear influence your life.

Published in: on 09/19/2010 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Talking About Dying

Lost in all of the drivel that passed for debate in the public discussion about health care is a serious  discussion about end of life issues. Oh please, I’m not talking about the silly idea about “death panels”. Rather a serious discussion about how each of us handles end of life issues. In other words, how we will spend our last earthly days.  The discussion went off track when there was a proposal that the government would be willing to pay for patients to talk to their doctors about end of life issues. Which is too bad since end of life issues should never be swept under the carpet.

There’s an article in the Huffington Post on how to talk to your doctor about end of life issues. It is an excellent article whether you are facing a terminal diagnosis or not. Many of the suggestions in the article can apply to discussions that patients should have with doctors from the start. My favorite suggestions on her list are:

Make a list of everything you want to discuss with the doctor ahead of time — all your questions and concerns.

Take charge of the conversation. DO NOT let the dynamic be that of a one way conversation between a demi-god doctor and his or her patient. Doctors are neither gods nor magicians.

After having a mis-diagnosis almost kill me, I can attest to the fact that you do need to be in control of the conversation about your health. It is your health.

Published in: on 09/05/2010 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rumors Hurt

Today’s news brings a valuable lesson in ethics, rumors hurt. A quick synopsis: A woman makes a speech where she admits  to having changed her attitude for the better. A clip of the speech, taken out of context, is published and leaked to media. No one in the media checks the whole speech to see context, rather spreads an unsubstantiated and inaccurate rumor. Woman loses job and is condemned by various pundits all based on rumor.

Fortunately, the rumor was found to be what it is, a lie. Apologies have been given, but everything is not quite the way it was. This brings us to the point of this post. Rumors hurt, rumors do damage that cannot always be healed. There’s a reason that the Bible is quick to condemn those who spread rumors. It’s interesting that the sin of spreading rumors is classified along with some of the most powerful sins, like sexual sins. The damage that a rumor can do is devastating to the victim as well as the perpetrator. The victim has to deal with the direct results, losing respect, job, maybe even financial loss. The perpetrator loses respect and credibility.

In the case that I have referred to, there was a specific reason that the rumor was perpetrated.  It had a goal as can happen sometimes with rumors. According the rumor monger, the firing was not the result that he was looking for. Rather, he was trying to make a point. That point, by the way, has been long lost in the fallout.

Next time you consider starting or spreading a rumor consider the consequences. You may be very well getting more than you bargained for.

I have purposely left out the names and reasoning of the rumor mongering to stay clear of the political issues brought up by the incident. To read about the incident (if you’ve been out of touch) here’s a link to the story. Another link here.

Published in: on 07/22/2010 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

This Is How Adults Act

For those who have been living in an alternative universe, there was a story this week in sports that shows how adults should act on a daily basis. The short version is this:Armando Galarraga a pitcher with the Detroit Tigers was one out from pitching a perfect game (27 batters up, 27 batters out with no hits, errors).  The last out was at the plate and hit the ball to be thrown out at first, everyone thought the batter was out except for Jim Joyce, the first base umpire. Joyce calls him safe, thus ruining Galaraga’s perfect game. Despite protestations from the Tiger’s management Joyce stands by his call until after the game when he sees the replay. Joyce realizes that he blew the call, promptly admits to the press that he blew the call and apologizes.

Now, you would assume that Armando Galarraga is screaming about how his rights have been trampled and how the umpire is an idiot. However, that not what he does. He forgives the umpire saying that we all make mistakes. Politicians, preachers, and common folk take notice he forgives him.

I am somewhat late to the list of commenters on this. I would however, like to point something out. Here are two men who deserve to be pointed out as role models at least for this act. Here are two men who act the way we’re supposed to act, who deserve to be role models. All too often we elevate people to “role model” status simply because they are  proficient at a sport, they can sing or act well, or because they’ve become popular. When these so-called role models fail, we deride them for not being a good role model. Kinda silly isn’t it? Simply because an athlete excels at their sport doesn’t and should not correlate with being a role model. What we should be doing is looking for people who have the personal character to become role models.

So, this week we found 2 bona fide role models. Their role model status being built not on their perfections, rather their imperfections.

Published in: on 06/06/2010 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Between a Rock…

There’s an article by the Associated Press via MSNBC about an abortion that took place late last year in Phoenix, AZ. The article recounts the story of a woman in St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center who had pulmonary hypertension and was 11 weeks pregnant. The woman’s life was in danger and would most likely have died without the abortion. The ethics board of the hospital includes doctors, administrators, and a nun , Sister Margaret McBride who was vice president of mission integration at the hospital. Sister McBride has been excommunicated by the Bishop of the Diocese , Thomas J Olmsted.  From the article:

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. “I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.

“An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”

First, let me state that I am pro-life, however, I find the Bishop’s statement to be an example of issues that some in the Pro-Life movement have. That is that the unborn takes precedence over the life of the mother.  To state it another way, Pro-Life is concerned only with life at the beginning or the end. Everything in between is not their concern.

Without a doubt, this is a tragic case. One in which there were no easy answers, only hard choices. I have a couple of friends who are in the medical field. from private discussions that I’ve had, these types of decisions are well discussed and deeply thought out. In other words, they are not taken lightly.I doubt that anyone on the ethics panel felt that the unborn child was “a disease”. If anything, they were probably deeply distraught over having to make a decision between two lives. Actually, the real decision was between losing both or just the child. The unfortunate fact is that the child was not going to survive either way. At 11 weeks, the unborn child was not developed enough to even try to survive outside of its mother.It’s mother could no longer survive with the child. The Bishop,  doesn’t seem to grasp that fact.

One of the problems with dogmatic teaching is that there are always situations that break the rule. Without a doubt, tragic situations like this occur with a little more regularity than we would like to admit. Truth is, to me being Pro-Life is not reserved for embryos and fetuses.  The Pro-Life movement needs to be consistent. I understand that in the eyes of the movement,unborn children are especially vulnerable. However, there is no sense in sacrificing two lives when one could be saved. If the tables were turned, and the mother’s life had to be sacrificed for the child, there would be a demand that the child should live.

I’ve had a problem with calling myself Pro-Life because of incidents such as this. Situations where there are no easy black and white answers and the predominant color is gray.  It’s troubling to me to see that so little thought is given to the mother and so much to the unborn child. I believe that it is time for the Pro-Life movement to start looking at their inconsistencies and become truly Pro-Life.

Some other links:

Arizona Republic article

The American Catholic

Beliefnet The Deacon’s Bench

Sunday Night At The Movies

Here’s a short (16 minutes) video that I found called Validation starring T.J.Thyne (of Bones fame) It’s quirky, but has a strong message of how 1 person can change many people.

Post your thoughts.

Published in: on 05/09/2010 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Things That Perplex Me

So, there’s one of these automatic paper towel dispensers in the Men’s Room where I work. Wave your hand and it dispenses a slightly less than adequate piece of paper towel for drying. It’s a pain since it waits several seconds to allow you another piece of paper towel. However, there are times that you will be in Men’s Room nowhere near the dispenser when it randomly dispenses on its own. Does it get lonely? Is it trying to make amends for all of the times that it fails to dispense on a timely basis? I’m not sure.

Then there’s the auto flush toilets that are found in almost any high traffic public toilet area. As you sit there doing your business, it suddenly flushes. Did I spend too much time? Does it assume that I’ve read through the first section of the newspaper? I’m not sure.

While Men’s Room appliances that appear to have a mind of their own may not be such a big deal, they still defy a level of sensibility. Both appliances work on the basis of motion, so what triggers them to work when there seems to be no motion? These things perplex me . They keep me up at night wondering about the nature of automated bathroom appliances.

Published in: on 05/03/2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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