"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)

"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)

It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Sahara Is Tough

"I grew up in Libya in abundance and I believed my people lived in similar conditions. My father never told me.

This is pure hunger. Life in the Sahara is hard. It's tough even for the young people so how can the elderly take it?

I can't  stand the way my people are living here. People here can't even bathe. There is no light or electricity. No phone network to stay in contact with the world.

At night it is really cold here. People living in this desert are constantly getting sick.
A lot of illness. They don't have hospitals,  they don't have medical tests.

People get used to it but my God this Sahara is tough. This Sahara is tough.

(Mahamad Hassan Tuareg in Sahara Desert)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sacred Drums For Worship....

"One guy comes up to me, buzzing with enthusiasm: “You know, when they play those big drums for village ceremonies, it usually makes people go into a trance. But today there was no trance when we played them!” Wow! I might have thought twice had I known this was a risk. However, I’ve studied trance quite a bit and – as a general rule – when the object of worship and the heart of the worshipper change, then trance will not occur. It’s a big issue in redeeming ‘pagan’ music for church worship and one which has caused some churches to fear even trying to play local drums. With time, though, all of these can be redeemed for God’s glory alone."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Africa Scenes

"As I edge my way around one of the more acute bends, Mrs Kwadi lets me into a secret: “Rob, the road back down on the other side is even worse than this.” Great! That’s something to look forward to then.

We reach the top and the road flattens out. We’re on the Danyi Plain, one of the prettiest parts of Togo. Even the villages you pass through seem well-ordered, pleasant places: square buildings made of earth, but with tin roofs and tidy wooden shutters, blossoming red flame trees, friendly stalls selling fruit and vegetables, pretty yellow hedgerows and majestic palm trees – it all seems very civilised."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stone Dry Hearts

"While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits.  And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men's hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism."
  
... Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Story Allows Wisdom To Be swallowed

"Story is the palm oil with which wisdom is swallowed. "

(Yousufu,  Guinea , West africa. Heard on BBC Podcast about Eola and how story was used to spread messages.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rewards and Rules

“You don't have to play by their rules if you don't require their rewards.”

~ William P. Young

Can You Tell Time In Africa

"There are still a good fifteen minutes until the scheduled start time, so it is impressive to see around half of the participants here already. But these are educated folk who can read, write and tell the time; three skills which cannot be taken for granted here. Of course, I wouldn’t even be here today if everyone in Sokodé were already literate."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Africans Are Generous With Their Time.

"Further on, three ladies carrying large bowls on their heads are walking by the roadside. “Labaalé!” These three know a place where there is a market and where we can most certainly try out some chouk. After a lengthy conversation, of which I understand precisely three words, Evan gets out and opens the back of his car. The ladies put their bowls in the boot and, somewhat uneasily, get into the back seat (as Ken squeezes into the front with Evan and me). I wonder if this is the first time they’ve ever ridden in a car. Quite possibly. We turn off the main road and along another bumpy track, parking almost immediately. Evan asks the ladies whether they need a lift back to where he picked them up. “No, we can walk back from here,” they say. Helping a foreigner is almost a duty of honour in this part of the world, and these three women – in spite of all the day’s hard work – were still happy to put themselves out to help three strangers. Amazing."

( Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture; Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

We Use Drugs Because We've Lost Each Other.

“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.” 

― Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

The Day I Discovered I Was Not Stupid

This makes me sad..... and angry...

"Every once in awhile I’ll read something that forces me to read faster and faster and faster and… SQUIRREL!… and faster and faster and faster and…. SQUIRREL! When I was young I’m not sure they had a label for my reading comprehension disability. I was just called “stupid” or “lazy” or “an attention seeker”. I would get so distracted so easily during reading time, but because my brain was going a million miles an hour, noticing everything there was to notice in a room full of humans, I ended up acting up and getting kicked out. Eventually, it was suggested that I leave the only school I’d known – the only friends I’d known. I was sent to a different school for my last year of public/primary education and put into a “special” class of 6 kids who were all special/slow. The excruciating social stigma of being a “special” kid in a new school was the start of my downhill slide that lasted 30 years. I soon figured out that if I could make ‘em laugh they would forget that I was “special.” Thus, the Village Idiot was born! Only as I approach my 50th birthday have I begun to allow myself to accept the fact that I AM “special”. Not stupid – lazy – attention seeker special, but special .....

(Drew Marshall.  Www.Caminoconfessions.com #6)

Black Sheep Of The Family

"I’ve been the proverbial black sheep of my family for as long as I can remember. I can vividly recall the first time my father said he was proud of me. Probably because it wasn’t that long ago. I put my parents through hell for so many years. Mom died before I had the chance to show her I could be good at something. Dad is 83 now and the reality is, he won’t be part of my life for much longer. I’m terrified of screwing up and putting on that black sheepskin one more time before he’s gone."

(Drew Marshall. Www.Caminoconfessions.com #8)

Africa - I Can Do Only So Much

“You’re going to the armpit of Africa,” the prim doctor said, as I rolled up my sleeve for the first injection. “We can only do so much for you.” She was as thorough as she was adamant."

(To Timbuktu For a Haircut. Rick Antonson)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

People Love When I Am Alone

"I absolutely love being by myself! Others tell me the same thing. They really like it when I’m by myself as well."

(Drew Marshall. Www.Caminoconfessions.com #7)

Labels That Kill Souls.. for Fifty Years

This makes me sad..... and angry...

"Every once in awhile I’ll read something that forces me to read faster and faster and faster and… SQUIRREL!… and faster and faster and faster and…. SQUIRREL! When I was young I’m not sure they had a label for my reading comprehension disability. I was just called “stupid” or “lazy” or “an attention seeker”. I would get so distracted so easily during reading time, but because my brain was going a million miles an hour, noticing everything there was to notice in a room full of humans, I ended up acting up and getting kicked out. Eventually, it was suggested that I leave the only school I’d known – the only friends I’d known. I was sent to a different school for my last year of public/primary education and put into a “special” class of 6 kids who were all special/slow. The excruciating social stigma of being a “special” kid in a new school was the start of my downhill slide that lasted 30 years. I soon figured out that if I could make ‘em laugh they would forget that I was “special.” Thus, the Village Idiot was born! Only as I approach my 50th birthday have I begun to allow myself to accept the fact that I AM “special”. Not stupid – lazy – attention seeker special, but special .....

(Drew Marshall.  Www.Caminoconfessions.com #6)

A Lifetime of Talking Too Much

"I’m just loving shutting up. It’s honestly been simmering inside of me for quite a while. My entire life has been filled with too much talk. From myself as well as those around me. I’ve been noticing that most of us, when we talk, fill the air with… more air. "

~ Drew Marshall - Practicing silence one day a week for six months, then walking the 800km Camino De Santiago pilgrimage in silence on his 50th birthday.

www.Camnoconfessions.com Day#4

When Your Song Has No "Ti"

The Nawdm People of Northern Togo

For you musicians...

"Most of the genres are also accompanied by clapping, sometimes just a straight beat, other times very syncopated. As they sing through more songs, I notice that many of them are hexatonic. This means there are six different tones in the scale, rather than the Western seven, or the more common African five. Upon further analysis, it would seem that the seventh degree of the Western major scale is missing, so theirs goes: do-re-mi-fa-so-la-do."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bare Breasted Culture Is Indeed a Fascinating Thing

I have literally seen it all in Africa. You do not even notice anymore.

"That reminds me of an amusing cultural story told by my mate Eric, a missionary in West Africa. Eric was visiting a village in his early mission days and saw three African ladies preparing a meal together. “Could I take a photo of you, please?” he asked (it’s always good to check first). The ladies looked at each other doubtfully, then one replied: “Wait a moment – we don’t have our heads covered. We must cover our heads before you can take your picture.” And with that, the three ladies removed their tops and wrapped them round their heads, ready for the photo! In great embarrassment, all Eric could do was to take a ‘pretend’ photo of these three bare-chested ladies and thank them for their trouble. True story. Culture is indeed a fascinating thing!"

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Don't Waste Much Time Defending Your Ego.

Best line I've read in weeks... "Don't waste much time defending your ego"

"Whenever you are offended, it's usually because your self-image has not been worshiped or it has been momentarily exposed. The false self will quickly react with a vengeance to any offenses against it because all it has is its own fragile assumptions about itself.
Narcissists have a lot of asserting and defending to do, moment by moment. Don't waste much time defending your ego. The True Self is untouchable, or as Paul puts it "it takes no offense" (1 Corinthians 13:5)."

~Richard Rohr

The Dream You -That God Doesn't Know

"Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him."

(Thomas Merton)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

$19 Per Minute.

Yep. $19.50 a minute when i was first in Ivory Coast.

"I think back to the early 90s when I was first in West Africa, teaching missionaries’ kids. There were no mobiles and even phoning home conventionally cost a small fortune and often had a delay of up to seven seconds. Now, I can text the UK for around ten British pence and the message arrives almost instantaneously. Amazing, really."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Mission Driving Skills

At 4:29 in the morning, i laughed out loud in recognition. Sorry Lynn Rayner

"The number one rule to remember on the roads here is as follows: there are no rules. Who has right of way? Answer: whoever has the courage to forge on and fill the gap before the other person gets a chance. Crazy, but kind of fun once you get used to it!"

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Pretending is Exhausting

"The ego doesn't want to surrender to its inherent brokenness and poverty. Yet the truth is, realizing your imperfection is the beginning of freedom and grace. There is such freedom in no longer pretending to be something we're not."

~ Richard Rohr

Monday, August 1, 2016

God Gives Back To Missionaries

"People often say to me: “Rob, it’s such a sacrifice, what you do,” and in many ways it is. But that’s not to say that missions work isn’t also fascinating, enriching and – on many occasions – just great fun! What you give up back home before coming on the field, God gives back to you in so many different ways – and more."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture : Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Your Pilgrimage Is Too Short

"With such an inspiring Christian history of pilgrimage, it is saddening how Christians have reduced Christian pilgrimage to an obligated walk from a parking lot into a sanctuary. " 
(Andy Rayner, A Spiritual Life Without A View)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We Are All Bastards Anyway

"When an atheist asked the civil rights activist and Baptist minister Will Campbell to define Christianity in ten words or less, he replied, “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”"

(Michael Frost)

Healing.... More Healing

"A few years back I was the featured speaker at the Indiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. I found myself sitting with the then youngest (thirty-six years old) governor in the country, Evan Bayh. He’s also a very devout Christian. He turned to me and said, “Brennan, you’re in just about every nook and cranny of the United States. You’re in every college and university, from Campus Crusade to Young Life, and in an incredible number of churches as well. What do you hear the Spirit of God saying to the American church?”I said, “Well, Governor Bayh, if there’s one thing I hear with growing clarity, it’s that God is calling each and every Christian to personally participate in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

Healing is a response to a crisis in the life of another person. It’s enough of a response, a satisfactory response to a crisis in the life of another."

( Brennan Manning. The Furious Longing Of God)

The Past Can Be A Horrid Place

You know its taken me 48 years to realize some people, so many, have had horror stories in their lives. 

""You will come for lunch," my aunt said, saving me from having to admit that I had jo place I wished to be taken and that this visit to seattle, the last I would ever make in my life, made me feel like that moment when the last leaf falls from a naked tree. Now in every sense I was disconnected from a horrid oast and hoped only to be blown to far places where even the memories of this town would fade."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Idolatry Of Ideas

"Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized through personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any idea that does not coincide with mine. The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy. The revolutionary thinking that God loves me as I am and not as I should be requires radical rethinking and profound emotional readjustment. Small wonder that the late spiritual giant Basil Hume of London, England, claimed that Christians find it easier to believe that God exists than that God loves them."

(The Furious Longing Of God. Brennan Manning)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I Am Especially Fond Of You...

"“Willie, he was there! Oh, was he there! Wait till I tell you. You’ll never believe it. Man, I’m not sure I do either.” Mack stopped, lost in his memories for a moment. “Oh, yeah,” he said at last. “He told me to tell you something.”“What? Me?” Mack watched as concern and doubt traded places on Willie’s face. “So, what did he say?” Again he leaned forward. Mack paused, grasping for the words. “He said, ‘Tell Willie that I’m especially fond of him.’“ Mack stopped and watched his friend’s face and jaw tighten and puddles of tears fill his eyes. His lips and chin quivered and Mack knew his friend was fighting hard for control. “I gotta go,” he whispered hoarsely. “You’ll have to tell me all about it later.” And with that Willie simply turned and left the room, leaving Mack to wonder, and remember."

(The Shack. William P. Young)

Grandiose People Cannot Create Peace

"In the secular sphere, it has manufactured artificial ledgers of perfection that have clearly changed from age to age, class to class, and culture to culture. Perfectionism discourages honest self-knowledge and basic humility, which are foundational to spiritual and psychological growth. It has made basic social tranquility a largely unachievable goal. Grandiose people cannot create peace."
 
Richard Rohr


Most Leadership gurus we are trying to emulate here are "Grandiose", in my opinion. 

I can't Be Perfect - Priest

Priest..... nailed it. 


"On the day of my first vows in 1962, the preacher glared at us earnest and innocent novices and quoted the line, "Thou shalt be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!" (Matthew 5:48). Most of the honest guys left within the first few years of seminary when they could not achieve this supposed perfection. That's sad because I think a lot of them would have been really good friars and priests, precisely because they wereso human, humble, and honest.
 
Many people give up on the spiritual life or religion when they see they cannot be perfect. They end up practical agnostics or atheists, because they refuse to be hypocrites. This is classic all-or-nothing thinking, characteristic of addicts. Many formal believers keep up the forms and the words, going to church and pretending to believe; but there is no longer the inner desire, love, joy, or expectation that is usually visible in people on the path of union.

Richard Rohr

My Dreams, Visions and Aspirations Died

"For me, everything is about Jesus and Father and the Holy Spirit, and relationships, and life is an adventure of faith lived one day at a time.  Any aspirations, visions and dreams died a long time ago and I have absolutely no interest in resurrecting them (they would stink by now anyway).  I have finally figured out that I have nothing to lose by living a life of faith."

(Paul Young)

Seeing God

"Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Becoming a Child Again.


"I have to tell you that I’ve never been around another adult who lives life with such simplicity and joy. Somehow he has become a child again. Or maybe more accurately, he’s become the child he never was allowed to be ........"

( The Shack. William P. Young)

Loving Largely

"Well he’s a human being that continues through a process of change, like the rest of us. Only he welcomes it while I tend to resist it. I have noticed that he loves larger than most, is quick to forgive, and even quicker to ask for forgiveness."

( The Shack. William P. Young)

Be my Life........

“Actually, I don’t think I’m going to need this anymore,” he said. “Can you keep it for me? All my best treasures are now hidden in you anyway. I want you to be my life.”  ~ Mackenzie

(The Shack. William P. Young)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Changed By Another World

“A man who has been in another world does not come back unchanged.”

~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, July 22, 2016

Our Scars Move Us Forward

"When we decide to act, it is natural that unexpected conflict should arise. It is natural that we will be wounded as a result of such conflict. Wounds heal: they stay on as scars, and that is blessing. Such scars stay with us for the rest of our lives, and are of great help to us. If at some point -for whatever reason -our desire to return to the past is strong, we have only to look at our scars. Scars are the marks of handcuffs, and remind us of the horrors of prison -and with that reminder we move forward again.”

(Paulo Coelho, Maktub)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Give Up Religion and you Might Find God.

"Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart – Jesus Christ, not religion."

~ Oswald Chambers

Easy Sacrifice. Give up What We Don't Have

Saint Francis of Assisi was a very popular young man when he decided to leave it all behind and do his life's work. Saint Clare was a beautiful young woman when she took her vow of chastity. Saint Raimundo Lull knew the great intellectuals of his time when he went off into the desert.

The spiritual quest is, above all, a challenge. Whoever uses it to flee from his problems will not go very far.
It does no good for someone who cannot make friends to retire from the world. It accomplishes nothing to take a vow of poverty if you are already unable to earn a living. And it makes no sense to become humble if one is already a coward. It is one thing to have something and give it up. It is another not to have something and to condemn those who have."

( Paulo Coelho: Maktub)

To Hell With Answers - The Questions Change

"In a bar in a remote village in Spain , close to the city of Olite , there is a sign placed there by the owner. “Just as I succeeded in finding all the answers, all the questions changed.”

The master says: “We are always concerned with finding answers. We feel that answers are important to understand what life means. “It is more important to live fully, and allow time to reveal to us the secrets of our existence. If we are too concerned with making sense of life, we prevent nature from acting, and we become unable to read God's signs.”

( Paulo Coelho : Maktub)

Jump Around - Please

"If you are alive, you have to shake your arms, jump around, make noise, laugh and talk to people. Because life is exactly the opposite of death. To die is to remain forever in the same position. If you are too quiet, you are not living.”

(Paulo Coelho: Maktub)

Does What I Do Matter?

"Let me ask you something. Is what I do back home important?
Does it matter?
I really don’t do much other than working and caring for my family and friends . . . “

Sarayu interrupted him. “Mack, if anything matters then everything matters.
Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen,

(The Shack. William P. Young)

Christian Imperfection - The Abuse of Power

"The spirituality of imperfection is, quite simply, the Gospel. However, in the fourth century, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. From that time on, the spirituality of imperfection--Jesus' liberating message--became a subtext, a minority position. Once you align with imperial thinking, spirituality quickly transmutes in many forms into a spirituality of supposed perfection--achievement, accomplishment, performance, attainment, and willpower--because that is how empires are built and maintained.

As the Church became aligned with power, many went off to the deserts in Syria and Egypt, seeking a lifestyle congruent with Jesus' teachings. But mainline Christianity has by and large continued the pattern of protecting and preserving itself through power. Without even realizing it, we have foundationally compromised the core good news. It has, in fact, become bad news because no one can honestly succeed all the time."

(Richard Rohr)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Too Nice Christian

“You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.”

~ Garrison Keillor

Is Everything Important

"Let me ask you something. Is what I do back home important? Does it matter? I really don’t do much other than working and caring for my family and friends . . . “ Sarayu interrupted him. “Mack, if anything matters then everything matters."

(The Shack. William P. Young)

Is Everything Important

"Let me ask you something. Is what I do back home important? Does it matter? I really don’t do much other than working and caring for my family and friends . . . “ Sarayu interrupted him. “Mack, if anything matters then everything matters."

(The Shack. William P. Young)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Half Alive in America

"I didn't want to go back to the United States where for most of my life, it now seemed apparent, I had been only half-alive."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)

I Can Go Home - Most Can't

"Now, after three years in the Peace Corps, my father's letter had illuminated my real position and Ecuador; I was engaged in the ultimate bourgeois gesture.  I had come to live for a time in a poor village....

When things got too rough: if I got sick or the food became unbearable or if the town for some reason or another should you erupt into drunken violence or if, even, the ambient of the town became too boring, I could simply jump in a canoe for Esmeraldas and catch a bus to Quito. I was the only one in town who could solve his problems by simply going to Quito."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)

Actors

"... in some degree we are all actors and are playing the part that we feel best expresses our essence...."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)