Creativity

pleasure in purpose

pleasure in purpose

Brief thoughts…

The artist that turns to the place within, tells the story of emotion, of critique, of mood, of betrayals, of hope, and of things unknown. This draws the viewer through the lens or paint-stroke into the unformed moment, motion, encounter, event, and into the depth where we might see wisdom and wonder. This gives fresh voice to love, anger, surprise, joy, fear, disgust, and sadness. Space, subject, and architecture interact toward inarticulate prophetic birthings. Here, artist and canvas is indistinguishable in the tensions of formation. Truth and ambiguity side by side tell the story as mirror, or ‘hammer’ (Mayakovsky), perhaps to resolve betrayal and fear, or to retrieve meaning through forgiveness and grace.

Here also, the artist finds already within the inextinguishable flame of hope in what is yet unformed. Where self and the unknown sit together face-to-face in the inner space, full, or empty, time works to birth the as yet unshaped form. A quest for meaning calmed thus in the inner tension of difference, finds itself more in step with others and world. Here perhaps is where creativity lives and where it remains unforeclosed and open always to the new without forsaking the already.

The acceptance of the mantle as a place that lives best in the embrace of uncertainty, gives shape to the unknowns where prophecy stirs and refuses an intolerance to uncertainty. As the scripture says, “it is the Glory of God to conceal a matter, to search it out is the glory of kings” (Proverbs 25:2). Might then the artist’s gaze into the depths of the self, find the art, the life, the creativity, the hope that evokes the thought of God and which awakens a gift’s purer essence as its ‘giving’? Here perhaps also, the Spirit’s guiding hand may already be at work to help shape the thing unformed, and give voice to the stories yet untold…

Loys

Sent to the other’s door (excerpt: Fakes or Followers – Part 2/Chapter 3)

A great release comes to us when we see the depth of what we can miss of God’s heart for people, but especially when what emerges in our consciousness, as in a mirror, are the echoes of our own brokenness. In this sense, bringing the kingdom near, is irrevocably tied to the reflection of the other in ourselves. We could not “go to” without first being aware of this reflection in our own souls, since to tell another “the kingdom of heaven is near you” is also a request that we be willing to be given to it. Paul explains it as follows, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Far from the juridical imperative (you must…), here as in every human story, we sense rather that nothing captures the goer’s heart more than this reflection of the other’s beauty in our hearts.

As writes Paolo Freire, we are not looking for actors who act merely out of the need to help but who are themselves not converted by injustice into apprentices. There may thus yet arise those gripped by their own need who first overwhelmed by the dullness of their own reflection are moved and awakened from within. No fire can be stoked on knees not bent first for self’s state. Urgency grips our hearts stirred by what we see within. No endurance begins its journey distanced from such a view of the self, nor can love stirred to the other better labor in its turn to loving service.

I have set out some keys to that journey as follows:

•  The Holy Spirit’s compassion awakened to work in the parable of the Samaritan, Levite, and priest, where the Samaritan was commended for his compassion. God’s love is stunning.

• No one has to perform for God’s love – He freely gives himself to all who will choose Him.

• Elisha refused to take his eyes from Elijah, for he sought the reflection of his friend’s love in his own soul, and received a double mantle. He had hungered for more.

• Jesus, when he went in, shunned the presumption of his own certainty, and was willingly led by the Spirit into a wilderness, and came out different to how he went in – “in the power of the Spirit!”

• A molded-surrendered wineskin can better bear the wine it serves and remembers its purpose – to be poured out for others. A wineskin yielded in pliability is a choice to be for the other what best dignifies them.

• A true reflection of our state builds no “booth” for the self but seeks to share, to be given, and to learn the humility of preparing for it…

 

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Call to a supernatural life

Francois Botes prophesied on Wednesday 28th May at the Canada Leaders Training in Toronto, on His first ministry visit to Canada, that the power of indifference would be broken from our land. If this word is indeed true let us imagine its significance for this nation. Loys 080619

PS: the audio of this astounding 9-minute prophecy is well worth listening, we have added the link in the left side or click here. Love you all.

What will prepare our Global family for our Children?

Os Guinness speaks of three enduring first-principles, faith, knowledge, and virtue. In an economic-related sense, we could say that they refer to attitude, aptitude, and altitude.

If one were to apply the sociological stress test to sustainable development one would ask three things: first, what is the market’s mood [attitude] in the prevailing economic condition, second, what has the market learned from the past that it would not want to repeat [aptitude], and third, what are the means at the market’s disposal that it can change – what is its vision or direction, and realizable application [altitude]?

The mood [attitude] is decidedly pessimistic. Martin Wolf’s excellent FT article, on the 24th November 2011, titled, “To the Eurozone: advance or risk ruin”” makes the point that something practical needs to be done instantaneously. This was similarly confirmed by a recent survey carried out to more than 1600 executives. A poor attitude is a warning sign that change is needed. One might say that usually the worse the attitude, the greater the need for sensible and practical change or adjustment – like the hand that approaches a red-hot stove plate!

The collective discernment [aptitude] screams out the need for recognition of and the adjustment to a number of things. Here are a few:

  1. The global economic ‘tree’ is in dire need of a pruning. Without pruning, a tree becomes increasingly unproductive. We should ask: is our global economy not like a giant un-pruned tree? And if so, then who will do the pruning? Pruning is feared where vision is short and vested interests are allowed to manipulate. Pruning is a value – an ethic, and where values are concerned, a strong character will always be called upon [a faith attitude]. The pruning principle teaches that austerity is not necessarily an enemy. Will we be prepared to do the hard little and great things. We each know what it will take, personally, communally, and societally. We each have our respective spheres of influence, and can in an instant begin to make the necessary adjustments. I am reminded of a statement made by Marcia St. Martin, executive director of S&WB, to the citizens of the greater New Orleans area, as that region faced a hurricane of disastrous proportions. She said that if each of one million citizens of the area were to simply clear their drains, that the collective effect of that one act would avert disaster for that region. Here again, we see the power of what a collective change of attitude, and the corresponding aptitude to decide and to act, can do to save a potentially unredeemable situation.
  2. Where we resist pruning, a breakdown is imminent, or inevitable. Where we avoid necessary discipline, austerity is ultimately imposed. Already, executives are giving furtive looks to alternative markets in a bid to hedge against the consequences of euro disaster. Everyone has the ‘aptitude’ to know that there is a problem and to act responsibly. In the US, under the guise of a “stress test,” the Fed is preparing for the worse, even while throwing out the disclaimer that ‘this is not a forecast’. In other places, Central banks are buying gold at unprecedented levels [again, disclaimers noted]. Frankly, the vital signs are not good, and one cannot blame everyone for taking protective measures, but this only confirms the point that any delay in exacting the necessary present discipline will only heighten the consequences later. We have the aptitude, so let’s use it. Where is the leader that will stand up and say so?
  3. Without a proper long-term vision of the global economy [altitude], we will commit ourselves to interminable cycles of revisions, and ineffective adjustments. Two things are required. First, identifying the important little steps, such as the Fed’s “stress test” on some thirty major US banks. Second, agreeing on a long-term vision – leadership has to gain some ‘altitude’. For instance, we have to break out of the swamp of subsidiary sovereignty [Charles Goodhart]. Will someone stand up and take the helm, and will we allow them to do so?
  4. The greatest deterrent to a sustainable economic future is a view of global economic reality as constituting many independent trees capable of independent existence. What does this mean to the strongest possible vision of a sustainable economic future? For instance, in Europe, it is to see that the only possible economic reality is that they can only stand as one. This view might perhaps finally propel the European Union to more unified fiscal policy. If one were to view the one economic tree as either living or dying, and not as a dozen trees each capable of self-protection, then we might have the vision to act radically and promptly.
  5. For the family of nations, the greatest danger to a healthy global future safe for our children is unhindered gluttony and unrestrained selfishness. Any vision of the future that does not factor in the need for decisions internally that benefits others externally is unsustainable. We need not only the right attitude [faith], nor not only the right aptitude [discernment; assessments, and responsible actions], but also the right altitude – values of selflessness; gratitude; honor; respect for everyone, and the constant reminder that we only each have what was generously given to us by others.

My university professor, Willem Saayman, speaks of an old African proverb: that no single individual can embrace the Baobab tree (Embracing the Baobab Tree, 1997, Intro). This means that no one can master alone the problems, challenges, and needs of the world in which we live. This picture teaches the value of community, of family, of respect, of giving dignity to the difference in the other, and to a careful reflection of our way forward as human species of what global future we see for our children and for the creation.

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The value of Ongoing Change…

 

Great Urswick, England

be the change.

The Value of Ongoing Change:

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A story told in a film by the son of an Italian man, relates how the father, whose profession was to sharpen knives, had come from Italy to NY with his family. He had a little bell that he would ring to tell the people that he was in their street. Then came the disposable generation. Disposable knives. Disposable scissors. He would leave before light and come back after dark, with nothing to show his wife and family for what he had done. That bell became the loneliest sound his son ever heard. As a nine-year-old boy, he once followed him for a whole summer, every day, day in, and day out, and after a while, it started to grind him down. Nobody needed him. When people feel that nobody needs them, they feel useless, and they die inside, they let themselves go. The family always said to everybody that “pop died of cancer”, but he actually died of a broken heart.

The value of ongoing change is a way of hope that should press itself on people so that they are able to put their past in better perspective for the sake of what they next need to build. People who build a business must expect to be challenged in their faith. However, all that opposes them or their business in a time of needful transition shouts a different message, “you cannot afford to lose what you have, it is too risky to change” – a tendency that can be illustrated by an example of a recent marketplace collapse. The new CEO for Kodak was hired to rescue the company from failure. It is commonly known that the middle managers refused to accommodate him. However, resistance to doing things the new way was not met by dismissal, and the company was doomed. In an article written by Peter Cohan, titled: “Kodak Keeps Collapsing”, he comments on the situation already prevailing in the 1980’s, “I spent over a year consulting to Kodak 20 years ago. Already then it was grappling with the same issues that continue to plague it. Kodak created and led the business of giving away cameras and reaping huge profits from its dominance of the silver halide film and chemicals business. But Fuji took away its market share and digital photography took huge chunks of its former customers. Its latest restructuring program is too little too late.”

[http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2009/01/29/kodak-keeps-collapsing/]. The restructuring to which he refers took place at the beginning of 2009. Kodak laid off 4500 employees due to a 23% drop in international revenue.

The degree to which we try to propagate from our past without new wisdom may result from an intolerance to uncertainty. We might justify doing so even because of the things we have done well. Leaders, who do not pay sufficient heed to the need for change, may have succumbed either to this ‘fear’ of uncertainty or to a sense that the future is threatening or even through disdain for change. This is evident when the call for change is met by more justification. What accentuates the lesson is the strong indication that Eastman Kodak were aware of the threat posed by digital photography as early as 1982. Doubly revealing to their self-inflicted dilemma is that they had ignored the marvellous opportunity of having created the first digital camera in their own labs in the 70’s. Again, in the same labs in 1986, they had developed the first sensor technology at the centre of digital cameras today! The Kodak management’s response was, “That’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it” [From an article by Jordan Timm at http://www.canadianbusiness.com/after_hours/lifestyle_products/article.jsp?content=20091026_10027_10027].

One can hardly imagine the positive effect that would have been created in their situation if Kodak’s management team had opened itself to independent reviewers charged to challenge its ideas! The value of ongoing accountable external input cannot be overestimated in matters of leadership. The concept of checks and balances is one of the strongest values in a Christian ethic. This applies equally to matters of personal development as it does to matters of governance. Referring to the influence of checks and balances on Winston Churchill’s leadership in WWII, MQ states, “Churchill submitted himself to a ponderous process of checks and balances that made the method of governance much more tedious. The English, it was affirmed, led through committees but ultimately their safety net was the Judeo/Christian underpinnings that compelled them to consider and reconsider the quality of their social action” [MQ, p. 52 – http://www.moralquotient.com].

The danger of unipolarity [single ‘pole’ style of leadership deficient in check and balance] is evident in all the main three social contexts, the personal, the communal, and the societal. How many have wished for the voices of their dissenters to be silenced, and yet, all progress depends on those who persist in not conforming themselves to the status quos of their past. In a reverse sense, the fear (or disdain) of change can also arise from the ‘past’ as for Children who have wished their parents silent over their bad habits. Community leaders have wished those who disagree to be removed. Politicians have wished the voices of their opponents discredited. However, where mercy has failed, we must allow honesty to speak. Where excuses prevail, situations run amok! Neither is it good if an error has been detected that a man should immediately rush to resolve it! The wise wait to hear the voices of their most intimate counselors and friends.

In closing, we should not underestimate the lesson taught by Kodak’s failure. Jordan Timm writes, “Kodak rolled out failure after failure, trying unsuccessfully to graft digital technology onto their established business rather than adapt to an emerging marketplace. As late as 1995, when a Fortune reporter challenged Kodak CEO George M. C. Fisher with the impending collapse of the traditional photography industry, the executive sounded befuddled. “But Kodak has to grow,” he protested.” [Ibid]

Might the ones then who look ahead in hope to a future of expected change both within and without be the ones best capable to take up its challenges and understand what the statement means: “we are on a way we have never been on before”?

Keep on

Loys 091028

The Making of a Wise Man

The Making of a Wise Man

Moses had spent his early life doing things in his own strength… No one could tell him otherwise. To defend God’s people, he would take a man’s life and expect to be appreciated. He thought, “At least the Israelites will understand what I did!” They did not, and thus began a 40-year wilderness journey designed to make a man of God out of him!

As Chesterton writes, “Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness!” When Moses began, he thought he saw what was right and wrong. He felt he had the right to judge a situation involving God’s people. He also thought he was the one to do something about it. He had the power. He had the wisdom. He had the talent. He had the connections. He had the credentials. He was ‘God’s man’ for the hour. However, after God had prepared Him, he was a stutterer unwilling to speak. He was disqualified as a spokesperson in his own eyes. He had nothing. He also had almost no one with him in his desert abode, except those he needed most – his family! In this way, God often shapes a man for his future. God takes him aside from his circumstances and makes him a family man – a man, who learns to provide, to live simply, and to raise his kids, so that he can better understand the heart of God.

The new Moses saw God [in the burning bush], then heard God, then saw himself as honestly as he ever had – as a man incapable of doing God’s bidding, and finally, he saw what he had to do. God had initiated all four of Moses’ responses! God revealed to Moses that only what comes from God could endure. When a man has been thus prepared he does not try to resolve, or to control, or to pressure, or to organize his situation. Rather, he is tender, humble, attentive to God, gentle in action, and devoted to God in service. The old Moses did not need God. The new Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh…?” We hear, in his words, the heart of every spiritually awakened person. Isaiah said, “Woe to me. I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips”. Paul said, “I am the worst of sinners”. David said, “I have sinned!”

Moses, in the end, did all that the Lord required because he knew it was the Lord doing it in him. What the Lord initiates, the Lord completes! We are told that Moses was the humblest man on the face of the earth! It is only a revelation of, and an encounter with God that makes a man humble. Secular Humanists, such as Carlyle, and others, would have us believe that the man who must lead is the one who thinks he can. Our response is to point them to such men as Moses so that all might see also, that those emptied of their own way will think themselves incapable of serving others, and yet be the ones most qualified to do so. Solomon, filled with wisdom wrote that when the righteous thrive, the people rejoice, when the wicked rule, the people groan. Again, that a wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son!

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The Plight of the World’s Poor and Sick!

The Plight of the World’s Poor and the Sick!

The New York Times states that the “quest for eternal life, or at least prolonged youthfulness” is now within reach. “In five or six or seven years,” said Christoph Westphal, one of Sirtris’ co-founders, “there will be drugs that prolong longevity.” [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/science/29aging.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes] How much fun is that? I do applaud every drug discovered that will combat degenerative disease, but am left wondering whether it is the best use of resources at this time while the world’s majority suffocates on a daily income of less than $1 per person? Caring for the world’s poor has never been more necessary, nor is the potential for global disaster more acute. In a Foreign Policy® article by Roger Bate, titled: The Deadly World of Fake Drugs, [Carnegie Endowment, September/October 2008, Page 57]. He states, “Whether it’s phony Viagra or knock off cancer meds, fake drugs kill thousands of people each day, thanks to counterfeiters in China and India who mix chalk, dust, and dirty water into pills sold around the world. With the internet becoming the world’s dispensary, these poison pills could be coming to a pharmacy near you.” Later in his article, he writes also that bad malaria meds kill 200,000 African children every year. The western frontiers of the mid-20th century were Bosnian, or perhaps Mediterranean? However, today’s fault lines are already drawn down the main streets of our cities. As has already been mentioned, C. S. Lewis calls Nature, untrammeled by values, the Magician’s Bargain: whereby people give up their souls bit by bit, in return for power. However, once the soul – that is, the individual self – has been given up, the power conferred does not belong to them.[i] The value we speak of is: Caring for others above ourselves! [MQ, Page 36]


[i] C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, A Touchstone Book, published by Simon & Shuster, distributed by Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996, p. 80

A Family Adventure

While Sharon convalesces, I am getting to grips with the container cupboard. Two weeks of scrimmaging have produced a necessary result: The Law of Containers!

The Law of Containers:

Round with round, square with square, and lid on the container. Wash container and lid together. If not, then lids go to the bottom and the container will never be used. Like washing socks together, wash matching lids and containers together so that the monster can be held at bay. The lid monster hides lids at the bottom to undermine the container cupboard’s foundation. Throw out a container for which you do not find a lid, but handle more carefully a lid for which you cannot find a container. It might sound simplistic, but a damaged lid is less serious than a damaged container – anyone with an ounce of Scottish blood in them could not bring themselves to throw anything away anyway – but take a reality check – if there is a hole in the container larger than one millimeter, throw it away. A bit of advice – hang onto an expensive lid just a little bit longer – like something marked Tupperware® on it. Do not hoard aluminum bases, yogurt, and cream cheese containers – they are like mischievous cats and dogs in a cooped up area – they complicate the process and will keep you busy – well, maybe just one 2-liter ice cream tub but no more. No empty Powerade® bottles, they are the demons sent to create chaos, they just don’t ‘fit!’ They are individualists and too demanding – they need to stand alone and side-by-side like soldiers standing guard outside the cupboard. Oven gloves are a no-no also. Oh, and don’t forget to put a sign on the cupboard door that says, “Teenagers KEEP OUT!”

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