Archive for February, 2008

The Greatest Gift

stang.jpgI’m listening to the podcast of Tuesday’s The Diane Rehm Show, and there’s an interview with British journalist, Binka Le Breton, on her new book, “The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang.” You may recall that a couple of years ago, Sr. Dot was shot and killed in Brazil, for her advocacy work for the rural poor and the environment.

Binka also discusses what’s happening now in Brazil concerning the Amazon rainforests and the efforts to stop illegal deforestation.
This may be a good book for some Lenten reading. To reflect on the life of a modern day martyr seems an appropriate thing to do in these days of following Jesus towards the cross.

It may be a few days before I get back to this blog. I’m traveling to Stuart, Florida tomorrow for a few days of visiting some friends, and I’ll also have to attend to some of my program chair duties for the conference. I do hope to do a couple of posts before I return next Thursday, so please don’t give up on me…it has been a busy week.

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Empowering Leadership

cover_sm.jpgI’d like to introduce you to Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and a gifted motivational speaker. At one of our congregational meetings, we had the opportunity to see the video, “Leadership: an Art of Possibility.” I found myself totally captivated by the way he views leadership as empowering others. There’s also a book on this (by Ben and his wife Roz) that I think I’m going to have to break down and purchase…

Before you have a look at the video clip about Ben below, let me just give you a teaser about the film (from Groh Productions):

The new leader’s job is to SPEAK POSSIBILITY. To speak possibility you do not need to be the top guy in the elegant suit. You can speak possibility from any position, in any group of people, anywhere in the world. This leader keeps a possibility alive until every person involved in the project is enrolled in it. As Ben often says, when you are conducting an orchestra it does not work to have just some of the players involved. A great performance arises out of everyone’s passion. And a great performance stirs the soul, rearranges ones molecules, connects ones being to the being of others.

This kind of leadership increases the resources of an institution immeasurably in terms of energy, flexibility, and speed of response to a fast-paced world. © 2000, Rosamund Stone Zander

Key Learning Points:

    1. Speak Possibility
    2. Recognize the downward spiral and enroll people in the journey to Radiating Possibility
    3. Lead by making others more powerful (The conductor does not make a sound)
    4. Enroll every voice in the vision
    5. Look for shining eyes
    6. Quiet the voice in the head that says “I can’t do it”
    7. Everyone gets an “A” (Give people a possibility to live into, not an expectation to live up to)
    8. Remember Rule #6!

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      Catholic Blog Awards

      cbas-777765.jpgWhile checking my blog stats, I discovered that this blog has been nominated by at least a couple of people for this year’s Catholic Blog Awards. Thanks to Steven, and to anyone else who may have nominated this blog. And congratulations to all who join in the conversations…I really believe that the quality of our interactions with each other is what makes this blog good.

      Nominations are open until February 29, so get on over there and nominate your favorite Catholic blogs. Voting starts March 3 and ends March 17.

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      piano344.jpgThis week, Gesu (the parish in which I worship) is hosting about 50 guests as part of a rotating homeless shelter program here in Detroit. Tonight, our choir prepared and served dinner, and then we sang afterwards with and for the guests. I really love it when we just “jam” – the spontaneity really allows me to be open to whatever the spirit has in mind for what comes out the saxophone… Anyway, what I will remember most is that there were two guests who each came up and played a couple of songs on the piano, and they were fantastic! Another guest got up and sang while we accompanied him.

      I can’t imagine what it must be like to have nowhere to go when it is so cold. Thank goodness there are folks who organize the kinds of programs that allow us to offer hospitality to our guests.

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      pedaling.jpgOK, so I’m not really on my bike yet. High temps in the teens today, in 20’s (Fahrenheit) tomorrow. But my life has been crazy busy. And I had a bit of a crash and burn early this week, where I actually went home after my first of 3 classes, leaving the students to fend for themselves.

      But I had a really nice time with some friends in the western part of the state last weekend. I think knowing the work that was waiting for me when I returned just took my energy away, but I have a little breathing room to catch up on class prep, at least for a few days… The work as program chair for a conference I’ve been doing has turned out to be more work than I thought it would be, and I have another push during our Spring Break, when I have to check to make sure that the authors of close to 100 papers made appropriate revisions to address the concerns of peer reviewers. This is by far the biggest volunteer commitment I’ve ever taken on while working my regular full-time job. The good news is that I’ll be able to back off and turn most of it over to a successor in June.

      So for a while, I’m going to be a bit cranky and tired…looking forward to doing some “real pedaling” the first week of March, when I go to visit friends in Stuart, Florida.

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      Quote to ponder…

      90733-35.jpgFirst, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day…it was almost gone before I remembered it. A friend and I went out to dinner, and I was wondering why there were so many people out on a Thursday night…DUH…

      I’m up to my eyeballs in conference paper acceptances and rejections…and am leaving tomorrow (or should I say today, since it is almost 1a.m.?) for the weekend, with almost half of that task unfinished – oh well – it’s not my fault that the staff changed one date without shifting other deadlines… It will have to wait until Sunday, even though the authors were told they’d hear by the 15th… How can I let them know whether or not their paper has been accepted, when the peer reviews are not even due back until 5:00p.m? Let alone reading the reviews and in cases where there are conflicting reviews, the actual papers. OK…enough of my rant…I have to let go and just enjoy the friends I’ll be spending time with this weekend.

      The following quote I found on the blog of a friend…I’m shamelessly stealing from her, but in return, I’m placing a link to her site (Obfuscating Preponderance, formerly Open to the Possibilities.) Anyway, I really like the quote.

      Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
      A woman who honors her experiences and tells her stories.
      Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

      Imagine a woman who believes she is good.
      A woman who trusts and respects herself.
      Who listens to her needs and desires, and meets them
      With tenderness and grace.

      Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present.
      A woman who has walked through her past.
      Who has healed into the present.

      Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
      A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
      Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.

      Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
      A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
      Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.

      Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
      A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
      Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

      Imagine a woman who honors the face of the Goddess in her changing face.
      A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
      Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her body
      And life.

      Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
      A woman who sits in circles of women.
      Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

      Imagine yourself as this woman.

      Patricia Lynn Reilly (http://www.imagineawoman.com/)

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      Godspeed, Uncle Artie!

      I’m thinking of a remarkable man who just passed away yesterday. Arden Vaughan of Bucyrus, Ohio was one of my favorite uncles. He was a WWII vet in the U.S. Navy, and I have an early memory of exploring with fascination a tattoo on his arm. (I’m not even sure he had a tattoo, but for some reason, my brain has a memory of it, an anchor, I think…) I remember him as quiet, never drawing attention to himself, but always with a twinkle in his eye and quick with a funny quip. My cousin (his daughter) artie.jpgwrote:

      After seeing the thoracic surgeon last Tuesday at Ohio State’s Cancer clinic, we know that he suffered in silence for a long time, as the cancer had really progressed and when they asked if he had pain in many parts of his body, he said yes. He had never told us that. His high school yearbook quoted him: “I am not often seen and less often heard.” But when he was heard, it was oftentimes a joke or something to make the people around him laugh.

      I’d like to remember my aunt and cousins in prayer as they give him a great send-off on Thursday…

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      Today’s first reading was the story of the serpent and Eve, who decided to eat fruit from the forbidden tree and offer it to Adam. This passage has long been used to justify the “natural” subordination of women, as well as their naivety, wickedness and seductiveness. There are some really interesting alternate interpretations of this passage by feminist scripture scholars. I offer you one such interpretation by Phyllis Trible:

      [T]he woman is more appealing than her husband. Throughout the myth she is the more intelligent one, the more aggressive one, and the one with greater sensibilities…. [She is] both theologian and translator. She contemplates the tree, taking into account all the possibilities. The tree is good for food … [and] is esthetically and emotionally desirable. Above all, it is coveted as the source of wisdom…. Thus the woman is fully aware when she acts…. The initiative and the decision are hers alone. There is no consultation with her husband…. By contrast, the man is a silent, passive and bland recipient…. His one act is belly oriented, and it is an act of quiescence, not of initiative.

      Phyllis Trible, “Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread,” Judith Plaskow and Carol P. Christ, eds., Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979) 79.

      An interesting way to look at this story, no?

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      Another sister novelist

      A while back, I told you about one of our Baden CSJ sisters who writes novels. Allow me to introduce you to another, Sr. Christine Kresho, who writes murder mysteries. She was just interviewed by a Washington, DC TV channel. Like Fr. Andrew Greeley, her novels are situated in Catholic contexts. Sounds like she is pushing the envelope a little, but we all know how the mainstream media love to pick up on anything they can sensationalize… Here’s the video:

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      The Cosmic Heart

      I’d like to offer you this video clip of “The Awakening of The Cosmic Heart (The Core Rainbow).” The opening quote seems to be very much in line with what I shared yesterday about how I am trying to approach this Lenten season:

      The purpose of the heart is to know yourself, be yourself, and yet one with God.

      Edgar Cayce

      I do really believe that we are all connected, to each other and to all of creation, and perhaps that is why it pains me so when I or others act in hateful and judgmental ways. What if we all fasted from judging others this Lent?
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