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I’m sorry, perhaps, to advise you that I’ve come up with what may well be the key to knowing about everything.
this meaningful effort won’t come in the form of an illustrated book you can hide on your living room coffee table (does anyone call those places “living rooms” any longer? and, I once asked my Mom what happened if someone wanted to call it a a “pepsi table”. but, she was appaently not in sufficient a mood that day, to properly clarify. so, I remain perpelexed, and some what distracted by that). it will come in the form of a talk radio show and this (or another) blog, as well.
in any event, among the surprising words contained in what you need to know in order to understand are “despondent,” “panache,” and “hat.”
there may well be a riddle involved. but, possibly three; only if the first is solved, though.
this isn’t necessarily about fear and loathing. but, those words, and their implications, certainly have their place
if you want to know what these words have to do with a bird (ostrich, to be very clear) a goat, or a muffin, you should probably read the book.
more later. and, you better be ready. because there will most certainly be controversy. I’m predicting this will involve a great deal of pushing and shoving, possibly raised voices. it’s almost certain there will be some fist shaking and the gnashing of teeth. eventually, with the dawning of understanding, there will then come a form of collective awareness followed by cheers and a long satisfying trend of goodwill.
by the way… this post was crafted (that’s a fair word, all things considered, on an Android-powered laptop). it’s inconceivable, with the possibilities, limitless. however, it remains so, nonetheless.
peace be to my brothers and sisters.
brian patrick cork
Most people read the same books – as opposed to living the sort of lives that people write books about, or doing the sort of things worth immortalizing in print.
Perhaps reading the same book, or books, is another example of, if not a definition of, mediocrity.
I do value books extolling great things, events, people, or deeds. But, all too often the book of the month, or on the national best-sellers list, is popular because it inspires the masses as a direct result of their own lack of inspiration (or perspiration).
And, it’s only just occurred to me that this might be a great conversation to have with my Haley Anne and what happens in Middle School (and, the concern of many girls when it comes to fitting in or being like other people – as opposed to being something like, well… happy).
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
I starting offering my views and opinons around a certain pistol packin pastor just yesterday.
I can’t condone the burning of any book (or, “Word Windows” as we’ve often referred to them since Haley Anne was four years old).
In any event, this story just gets worse.
In Pakistan, about 200 lawyers and civil society members marched and burned a U.S. flag in the central Pakistani city of Multan, demanding that Washington halt the burning of the Muslim holy book.
So… They burned a, if not the, symbol of our country to some how make a point that we should not burn their holy book.
It’s bad enough that this celebrity-seeking-pentacostal-point-pounding-pistol-packin-preacher /1 is willfully stirring the pot and maliciously putting people in harms way. He has scienter, no less. But, now we have the FBI visiting his Gainesville-based church. Although we don’t know what’s being said, there, we can suspect the picadell0-postulating-preacher is being warned. So, this means our own government is getting “heavy” and possibly impeding an element of our own Constitution that’s related to Free Speech.
What? There’s more?
To be sure. Just read on. Do it now!
Gainesville police will already be dealing with some ninety thousand (90,000) football fans Saturday, as the book (that shall not be named, but is often misspelled as Koran) and even more tailgaters for the Florida-South Florida game.
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe has publicly condemned the church’s plans and asked residents to watch for “suspicious behavior” (apprently other than pastors packin heat and FBI agents crawlin’ about asking questions of “persons of interest”). At least one counter-protest was planned by a University of Florida student group.
So… Now you’ll have people in, or from trailers, getting involved.
City officials were increasing security, but wouldn’t go into detail about how many extra officers will be used, saying only that they were coordinating with other cities and “tallying expenses”.
“We are sending a bill for services to the Dove World Outreach Center. We’re tracking our costs,” said city spokesman Bob Woods. “I’m sure the cost will be substantial.”
isn’t that, well…. like a threat?
I mean, despite the fact that the Florida football game might be affected, does anyone see an ugly pattern here?
I’ll offer a hint: The terrorists are winning again because we are being as ugly as they are.
Allow me to be clear… I’d feel justified if we sent in a Special Ops team to take-out those protestors that burned our flag. But, otherwise, this pastor is an example of distorted material values, our own constitutionally-formed government feels so powerless that we need to use intimidation instead of mediation, a real important football game is pulled from the lime-light, and city officials are threatening punitive measures if a lone citizen refuses to bow to an uncertain civil rule or opinion.
Thomas Jefferson must be spinning so fast in his grave the earth may well depart from it’s axis.
Isn’t that what the Talibahn does while, ironically, pointing to the the Qu’ran for interpretation and justification?
It blows my mind that we end up making this lunatic preacher who should be standing on a New York cross-street look like he could be right, after all.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
1/ Understanding what being Pentacostal means might help explain naught a few things.
I may have the coolest vocation on the planet. I work with people that change the world, in turn, helping them make better decisions.
And, I learn things as well.
Recently I started to meet with a fellow that refers to himself as a: “serial entrepreneur”. To be candid, I feel that phrase is, in truth, silly. There is, and it’s true, once you bother to consider the nuance, an immediate negative connotation attached to it – from the “serial” perspective, mind you.
Me? I’m working daily to be a successful entrepreneur – just so we are clear.
It’s not just how you do it; how you say it, matters. Sometimes potentially more so. In fact, former United States President Bill Clinton reminded us recently in a TIME Magazine interview: “What we learned from Oklahoma City,” Clinton said, “is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold. [But] the words we use do matter.”
One of my points, here (that makes all the more sense if you’ve been following other recent posts), is a cross-roads when it comes to existentialism, heterodox and being Jeffersonian.
In any event, this fellow (mentioned earlier, mind you) is forty two and has realized not but a string of failures – this includes two marriages, and other collateral damage (not the least of which includes lawsuits and burned investors). But, he has an image in his head about what an entrepreneur has, does, looks like, acts like, and can do.
So… I asked him a simple question: “Is it possible that you are living someone else’s dream, and not your own”?
He was stunned (and angry). And, thusly, I had the potential, at hand, for my desired effect. And, the promise of a change evolution in behavior.
And then he began to weep…
“The truth is I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I was always looking for the easy button. Now I’m so far behind I don’t think I can ever find it”. And, he added: “But I hate all of it. The work is so hard. I never make any money. I can’t save. My credit is ruined. I just want a decent place to live, a reliable car, and to make sure my kids can go to college”. And, finally: “Can you help me find a stable job? That would make my wife happy. Me too”.
So, I did just that.
He had to walk away from a life-long dream, just like that. And, I believe this is when he became an existentialist. He finally recognized the dangers of living an inauthentic life.
Right. So, what is an existentialist?
If you have been following this Blog the last couple of weeks (and, it’s likely you have), you know we have begun to explore the existentialist, relative to the heterodox and my jeffersonian leanings.
So, how might they, the existentialist, be different than you? What do they know?
According to Wikipedia, Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th – and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and their emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. It is not some abstract set of theoretical truths. In simpler terms, it’s a no-nonsense philosophy that encourages you to take a hard look at your life and ask two essential questions: Who am I, and how shall I live?
Its goal is to awaken us from the morbidity of irrelevance and, have us grab life by the lapels and start living authentically.
Unfortunately, there is no particular school that offers a systematic account of existentialism. Its founders were fierce individualists who avoided labels, detested “-isms,” and refused to be lumped into any group.
So there is no grand philosophical system here. Essentially, existentialism exists at the intersection of the essays of Friedrich Nitzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, the novels of Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky, the religious writings of Soren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich, and the plays of Harold Pinter and even William Shakespeare (particularly Hamlet and King Lear.)
Clearly, existentialism is older than the term itself.
The philosophy is apparently based on six general themes:
- Acceptance of the Absurd. Each of us drops unexpectedly into this world, in a universe where time – at least as we know it – has no beginning, space no end, and life no pre-set meaning. It is an inexplicable mystery. This realization is hardly new, of course. Ecclesiastes kicks off with the words “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. What does man gain from all his labor and toil here under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Existentialists believe that it’s only when you confront the fundamental absurdity of life that you begin to live honestly.
- Personal Freedom. Life itself may be meaningless, but you give it meaning when you begin making important choices. These, in turn, reveal who you are. With freedom of choice, however, comes responsibility. Taking ownership of your decisions means not blaming your parents, your spouse, your teachers or anyone else for the shape of your life. More responsibility brings greater freedom. And with it: hope.
- Individualism. Existentialists are keenly aware that society continually pulls you toward conformity. There are immense social pressures to go along, get along and live pretty much like everyone else. Existentialists challenge you to buck conventional wisdom, express your true nature, and follow your dream, whatever that may be.
- Authenticity. Most people are so consumed by desire, guilt, fear or anxiety about what other people think that they find it almost impossible to follow their true calling. However, it’s only when you begin to do what you want – and not what others expect – that you begin to live authentically. But expect resistance. Institutions want to mold you. Other people want you to go on their trip. It’s far easier to live unthinkingly as part of the crowd. Yet authentic individuals are in control of their own lives.
- Passion. Being passionate and engaged is crucial. This doesn’t mean acting crazy or hysterical. Quite the opposite, in fact. Existentialists believe you should devote yourself to a cause, one that you’re willing to organize your life around, perhaps even die for. For Kierkegaard, that passion was the pursuit of truth. For others it may be artistic expression, healing the sick, or building a business that employs hundreds and serves thousands. In all walks of life, you’ll find that passionate men and women are more purposeful.
- Acceptance of Death. Life is finite. Yet existentialists don’t see this as a reason for pessimism. Facing death is what forces you to take life seriously, use your time wisely and make meaningful choices. It should invigorate your life. As the character Andy puts it in The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Nietzsche, the philosopher most closely associated with existentialism, refers to it as the noble ideal.
Your life, he argues, is an unwritten book that only you can write. Or, he says, visualize your life as a kind of artistic project, except that you are both the sculptor and the clay.
This concept runs throughout existentialist works. Martin Heidegger counsels that we should learn to “dwell poetically.” Kierkegaard offers that, “to exist is an art.”
All existentialists agree that life has the meaning you choose to give it. Sartre even declared that man is “nothing else but what he makes of himself.”
This view is fairly widespread in the West today. But it was once considered revolutionary. The Catholic Church, for instance, decided that Sartre’s ideas were so dangerous that it placed his entire works on the Vatican Index of Prohibited Books – including those he hadn’t yet written!
Ideas can be dynamite. And the proclamation that you should live your life on your own terms rather than according to the dictates of an institution was explosive.
Well… Bold and fearless, says I. If you have a servants heart and you seen synchronicity, daily, combined with a keen desire to reflect and represent the best virtu that God could inspire within you through discernment, what better terms?
Perhaps that’s why existentialism is called the philosophy of freedom. No matter how things stand in your life, you choose how to interpret your situation. You choose how to respond to it. Even if you do nothing, you still have made a choice. There is no escaping the consequences of your actions – or your inaction.
This makes some people profoundly uncomfortable, of course. They don’t like facing up to the world as it is. They don’t want responsibility. It’s easier to blame others, circumstances or “the breaks.”
Existentialism, however, is known as “the no-excuses philosophy.” You may be old. You may be broke. You may be sick. But existentialists say you start from where you are and move forward. How? By accepting responsibility and making choices.
This isn’t always easy. Pursuing authenticity requires relentless self-examination. It exposes you to things about yourself that you may not want to know. It may cause discomfort or friction with others.
But inauthentic lives, by comparison, are shallow, trivial and unsatisfying. They are often marked by the dogged pursuit of material goods, social status or the approval of others.
In many ways existentialism is a return to the roots of philosophy, a return to the ancients’ concern with truth, virtue and the art of living well.
Existentialism offers a guide to the perplexed. It shows us not just how to live, but how to flourish, how to create meaning in a senseless world. Those who reject this philosophy often do so not because they don’t understand it but because they can’t face it.
And that’s unfortunate. Existentialism provides a practical way of thinking about the world. It offers personal freedom and empowerment. It is a path to dignity and nobility.
An existentialist doesn’t live as though he has forever, frittering away his time and putting off until “someday” the things he really wants to do. He or she recognizes that each day, each moment, is precious and irreplaceable.
The next, and on-going test: Combining Existentialism with Heterodox and Jeffersonian ideals. Hang on; this must needs be a barn-burner. God gave me discernment. I might as well use it.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
I found myself, and early Thursday morning, looking to the stars while getting ready to walk with Emma Jo to the bus stop.
Amidst the caucaphonic singing of birds I found myself contemplating the twilight, and rapidly processing a broad array of thoughts that included: Gatsby, the “Word” as a lens, Speed Racer (actually, Racer X), and why it is light posts dim when special people draw near.
I thought of Bill Pope, and how he and I would have stood there quietly together, our hands in pockets, putting lines-of-thought together that might have only, and at best, confused (possibly, admittedly, concerned) others. It’s not simple easy understanding where Walker Percy both came from, and where he was coming from.
…and, now this:
Bryan Davidson had opened my eyes Wednesday when he reminded me of something one of his own professors had said to him at Liberty Baptist College: “Death is morbid but meaningful”.
Apparently, and according to this same professor, the meaningful part is because it opens your eyes. It’s how you see it.
Death, that is – someone else’s.
I’m also pondering what death might look like when it’s racing at you, or even creeping up on you. I’ve faced my own mortality in some tough spots. But, I don’t want any of this to be about me, right now.
So… I’m in a kind of “zone” for the moment around the whole Bill Pope situation. I’m not seeking answers, nor understanding. Possibly I am sorting out direction. I do know that I, for one, won’t ever be able to say enough good things about Bill. However, wherever he is – it begins in my heart and memory, and has clearly set a standard for a baring point.
By the way…
…on the tail tale-end of that telephonic exchange with Bryan I asked him how he was feeling (he was sick with what seemed like allergies to everything, including air and all edible things, for years). He mentioned “some dude” put his hands on him at a soulybusiness event, and he was healed.
I asked him if it was John Stein, of course.
And, it was, indeed (and Jesus, apparently).
John, just so you know, is a Healer. It’s true. I don’t even find it odd. But, then, you need to understand John – and man, is that another story. My favorite is a long run in the mountains of Tennessee early morning along train tracks. But, that, another time.
Bill Powis (I call him: “Pastor Bill” – a natural teacher, by the way) is leaning into me as well. I think he likes my torment. But, he also appreciates my open-heart. Man, he would have really liked Pope.
And, if we must be judged, I’ll hope it’s by the men around me.
And, to that end…
I’ll note, and do it here, that Marcus Crocket came back from Bill and Bryce’s funeral with the comment: “I was amazed at the testimonials for Bryce. It made me understand what a great influence in his life Bill and Jane were. They were READY. They lived their lives like Jesus”.
Those are powerful words around a man with a life well-lived.
But, there is more. It’s happening all around us. …change and perspective, I think…
Another dear friend, and agonizingly patient spiritual mentor, Durwood Snead, also lost his seven day old grandaughter this week, ironically named Madison (the name of Bill’s surviving daughter). She held her Mother’s gaze for only a few short hours. In his email to me, today, Durwood said: “We talked about how we did not understand why God needed Madison more than He felt we did, but that we had to trust Him because He gave His only Son for us.”
I’m not sure what’s next with all of this. So, now this is something like they. But, we can all count on there being a next what.
This I do know… We’ll need to make our stand her, and now. We must decide, each of us separately, and together, to either reel with these blows, or grow because of them.
We need to be READY.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
NOTE: Walker Percy (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990) was an American Southern author whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of “the dislocation of man in the modern age.” His work displays a unique combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith.
My research and inspiration for this particular post begins, significantly, with a background story and Amazon (the company, not an, otherwise, defined mythological group) contacting us about approving my Blog for it’s revolutionary Kindle. However, that’s another story in-of-itself. It only, today, sets the stage for the next several paragraphs (and, a bold excuse for yet another dissertation over truth and light)…
Thusly, it was inevitable, that, given my voracious appetite for reading certain types of material (namely Biographies [The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson by Kevin J. Hayes and The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome by Christopher Kelly are two long-standing favorites] and tombs focused on Comparative Research /1) that Joanne would gift me with a Amazon Kindle.
Once this potentially ingenious device was in my hands, however, there could be no doubt there would follow hours of interrelated research around how it works, why it works and the people (Rowdy, for example, holds technology in even-tempered disdain) that might find them most useful.
I won’t go into any real detail, nor attempt a technology review of this “eBook”. There are other people better suited for such efforts. You can be almost anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.
However, and almost immediately, my research took an unexpected turn – if not twist… My mind wandered to the wireless element of the eBooks. For example: who provides the wireless service? How does it work? And, who pays for it?
Because the Kindle is a wireless device, there is no PC (or, Mac) and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, Amazon delivers your content using their own wireless delivery system called Whispernet (apparently an “optimized” version) service and started with Sprint national high-speed (EVDO) data network and then recently changed to AT&T. However, unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. And, there are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills. Says Amazon: “We take care of the hassles so you can just read.”
The process begins when you order your Kindle on-line from Amazon. The price is diabolically reasonable and clever at $259.00. You then have access to a growing number of books (NOTE: this does not currently include Harry Potter), and periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal. And, you don’t pay for the wireless service; Amazon apparently does. I will, eventually, sort out what Amazon’s true cost for the KIndles is (just as I’ve done with Apple products). But, meanwhile, Amazon clearly makes money when Kindle users download and purchase reading material (you should know that I’ve only just downloaded A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson for only $9.95).
And, this is precisely where my radar popped-up, and I decided to look a gift horse in the mouth. I tracked down two wireless technology analysts (one a school mate). This was no mean feat given the Holidays. My question was simple: “what might the financial arrangement be between Amazon and a service provider – Sprint now AT&T?”
I learned that Amazon is still working with Sprint on the bigger Kindle DX, which only works here in the United States, because that’s how limited Sprint actually is. However, Amazon made the change, and went with AT&T, for the Kindle 2, so you could use a Kindle almost anywhere in the world. As I dug deeper I uncovered some additional interesting facts. These include, but are not limited to Amazon and Sprint found themselves in a tussell (there are many spelling variations for this word). Sprint was reluctant to help off-set the hardware costs of the Kindle, and wanted more of the revenue. So, Amazon hedged their bet with AT&T – and , also get broader coverage (even though that service often sucks – you can read more about that here: candid colored Apple) for Kindle users.
In any event, apparently Amazon pays AT&T and Sprint about $5.00 for every Kindle buyer. This is likely easy money for both service providers.
Side note (relative to cellular handsets):
Craig Moffett, the telecom analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein, says that AT&T and Verizon are in something of a a bind because they want to keep individual subscribers, yet they don’t want to undercut the pricing to business accounts (read more about this later and below, in the event you become disoriented).
“The worst of all possible outcomes would be for the big guys to cut their prices to match Boost,” he said, thinking about the situation from the perspective of investors. “But it’s not a picnic if they leave prices alone and lose subscribers to Boost either.”
Mr. Moffett says the shift in the market to flat-rate, all-inclusive price plans will ultimately increase competition because such plans make it easier for consumers to shop around.
“For years, the wireless industry had a halo of price protection because users had no idea what price they really were paying,” he said, noting that it was hard for people to figure out which calls were included in various buckets of free airtime, etc. “Once you cross the Rubicon of flat-rate pricing, there is no going back.”
Important note: The Sprint Right Plan Promise allows you the flexibility to change your rate plan at any time without fees or renewing your service agreement.
And, as I circle-back, we begin our decent towards the very nexus of my point…
Comcast charges us about $100.00 a month for internet service. We get a special deal. But, this whole Wifi element needs some deeper evaluation.
With Sprint’s Simply Everything plan you pay $99.00 (more after taxes and related crap) each month for talk, data and messaging).
With AT&T’s Nation Unlimited scam plan you pay $99.00, but also have to pay for separate data and messaging plans if you use a Blackberry or iPhone (for example).
So… Why does Amazon only pay AT&T and Sprint $5.00 per Kindle user, while individual users pay roughly twenty times as much for WiFi connectivity? Obviously, this brings Comcast into the fray as well. Do corporations have access to more palatable price plans? If so, what are they?
I really like, and am thoroughly enjoying my Kindle. More so because it’s use has opened a door filled with many questions with answers that could topple veritable empires. And so, these questions are going to burn brightly in my mind and heart for some time. We need to sort ths out because I think it, ultimately, means we are having to pay way too much for cellular wireless service – especially in light of how awful that service is becoming (against the elegant simplicity demonstrated by the Kindle). It also raises questions, and suggests possible road-maps around fairness, and uniting over common objectives, eh.
Understated ubiquitous note: That research (and it’s dire ramifications for the wireless industry) is in motion, and you know it is! All evil must fear the careful scrutiny of a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
Unexpected bonus reading:
1/ Following reflection on similarities and differences across religious boundaries has got two cues: “recognition” and “interreligious theology”.
In the English idiom, recognition can either mean rediscovery of things familiar or acknowledgment of something that may be distinctively unfamiliar but is still worthy of appreciation. In the encounter with other faiths, I may recognize essential features of faith that are equally dear to me. But just as often, I face the challenge of coming to terms with conceptions and practices that are foreign and do not give any immediate sense to me. Can I still acknowledge and appreciate such conceptions and practices, as expressions of a God-given diversity? Sometimes I can, in other cases maybe not.
In what follows, I will reflect upon the double meaning of recognition (as rediscovery and appreciation) in interreligious theology. I use the term “interreligious theology” as a reference to dialogical reflection on ultimate questions, carried out in the space between different religious universes. With “the space between”, I allude to Martin Buber’s conception of a sacred realm which opens when people of different faiths speak profoundly to one another, from heart to heart. In the suggestive words of Buber himself:
In the most powerful moments of dialogic, where in truth “deep calls unto deep”, it becomes unmistakably clear that it is not the wand of the individual or of the social, but of a third which draws the circle round the happening. On the far side of the subjective, on this side of the objective, on the narrow ridge, where I and Thou meet, there is the realm of “between”.