Mostly Pure

Clueless, Pure, Garrison, Keilor, Mostly, Pure, Christian, Dr, Gary, Davis, NeedincIf you’ve ever driven ‘cross country on Saturday night you might have tuned-in to PBS’s PRAIRE HOME COMPANION, a weekly broadcast of Garrison Keilor, onetime resident of the ill-fitted Lake Wobegone, and modern satirical comedian.

The show is “sponsored” by the fictitious product “Powdermilk Biscuits,” whose slogan is “Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers; so you know they’re not only good for you, but pure … mostly,” which “give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens they’re tasty and expeditious.” Powdermilk Biscuits has its own theme song, sung by Keillor every week. And NO, I’m not going to sing it for you.

It has always been fascinating to me how something can be “mostly pure.” I question this every time I read the ingredients listed on our food products. “Mostly pure?!?”  I think. What does that mean? I also think of it at funerals when people speak of the deceased as “a good man.” It’s the reflection in their voice that gives me pause— like they’re trying to convince themselves of it.

Defining anything as mostly pure causes me to wonder if we even know what pure actually is anymore. A girl who is a virgin is defined as pure as she approaches marital status. “Pure 100% Virgin Olive Oil” makes me curious about what the other olive oils are. Are they like Dove Soap— “99.99% pure. It’s almost as if being described as pure is derogatory, especially if you are a young lass. I mean, who wants to marry someone who is still a virgin!?! Really.

Our culture doesn’t seem concerned with being pure in any way whatsoever, whether it be sexually, morally, politically, or in family and business priorities and commitments. Why is that?

Here are just four causes for our loss of concern for purity

1.      We’ve become jaded. Thanks to modern media we can learn everything about anybody. It’s on the Internet, in the Tabloids, and on Headline News. We’ve grown accustomed to our public figures, be they politicians, athletes, or celebrities, being “dirty” in some way. And we simply accept it.

2.      It’s all about winning. UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders has said “Winning isn’t everything: it’s the ONLY thing!” (1950) Win at all costs, by skill, cheating, trickery…, whatever. Just win!

3.      Our base concern is the Bottom-Line. Making money is the only thing that matters. Screw anybody, just to make a buck. Remember the Wall Street broker’s answer to the question?  “How much money is enough?”  “More! That’s why lawyers are brought in to arbitrate an agreement. It is assumed that both parties will write the contract in their favor exclusively. Purity and fairness never come into the equation.

4.      A total abnegation of personal and corporate (not to mention governmental) Integrity. We no longer have a problem with disguising a lie as a truth, or with omitting certain data to make ourselves look better. Pragmatism has supplanted personal integrity in unfathomable ways.

To change this cultural-life pattern is no simple task. But we must start (yes, again) to correct our ways before God and our fellow men & women. Might I suggest we start with our own lives and relationships, and then press on to demand some degree of personal integrity and purity from our cultural leaders? 99.99% is sounding pretty good. Mostly pure!

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

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New Year’s Warnings

New Years 2015. Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Warnings, Consider this LIST…

            Now that our world’s financial situation is more secure, given the amount of consumer spending that took place at Christmas/Chanukah, we must rush to plan our New Year’s Eve celebrations in less than a week. And, frankly, I love the way we have come to say good-bye to the last year and WELCOME! to the new year.

The celebrations set forth the expectations of hope and accomplishment in the weeks & months to come; with the exception, of course, of weight-loss. Let’s not get the New Year off on a bad foot.

In keeping with this theme, allow me to offer some of the life-long-learning precepts I’ve stumbled upon along the way.

1.      Plan for your summer family vacation within the first two weeks of January.

2.      Take a New Year’s Day hike somewhere…, anywhere; except over fields of landmines.

3.      Look at next year’s financial picture while you watch football. IT mixes the serious with the sublime. You can decide which is which.

4.      If you are married, ask your wife/husband how you can love them MORE next year.

5.      Set personal goals for your work-performance. It is not about getting that promotion: it is about making a difference in your workplace and in the lives of your fellow employees.

6.      Plan to give $$$ away this coming year—lots of it. You will have more $$$ if you do. Don’t ask me how this works; it simply does. Trust me on this.

7.      Eat out at a nice place once a month. It will remind you of your aspirations; and oh, tip big.

8.      Avoid death, but take some scary risks in the New Year. You need to remind yourself how precious yet fragile life really is.

9.      Face some of the BIG questions. “Where did all this stuff come from?” “Do I have a place in the grand scheme of things?” “What is it?” “How do I show love?” “How do I receive love?” “Am I ready to face my Maker?” “Who will win the Superbowl?” “Describe “God.”

10.  Remember to breathe. You know what I mean.

There…, that should give you some things to think about during commercials. Forget making New Year’s Resolutions…, just DO this list.

Happy New Year!

  Gary

Restless

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, restless, sea, stormy, strength, harbor            Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, and yesterday, I thrashed about in the waves of restlessness that would not release me. Sure, I had things to be done; plans, goals, objectives. I knew how to measure my progress toward fulfilling those goals. I had personal goals, professional goals. So how did I wind up thrashing about so frantically, trying to stay afloat?

Restless in body, soul, and spirit, I tried to press on to the next phase in my plans. But I felt lost, adrift. I had the skills to accomplish my objectives; yet, I wasn’t sure that accomplishing them would make any difference. Anywhere.

Restless.

What do you do while turning your dreams into realities and find yourself simply cold to the things you are doing? What do you do when you find your passion has flat-lined?

Well, you NEVER, never ever give up! Do you fight to stay the course amidst the storms of disorder and desperation? Do you step back and reevaluate whether this is what you should be doing? Have your resources to get it done changed? Has there been a paradigm shift in the world that affects your goals and/or final product?

Adapt. Adjust. Reposition. Rebrand.

Do not clutch your goals or dreams so tightly that you are unable to let things go, modify the process, product, or personnel. Keep up with the times and seasons of your culture, with the strengths of your own resources, with the seasonal phases of your own life. Maybe you need to back-off for a time to gain perspective.

Out of a restless spirit can come a depletion of purpose and energy, or, any drive to change-up some things. Is it time to ask those age-old evaluative queries—  Is what I am doing essential in making a difference in this world? Am I cut out for this? What would I rather be doing? The worst feeling in the world is that I am not making a difference; that I am merely taking up space.

Is it time to step up the helm and redirect the ship? Whether that ship be your company, your family, or yourself. The very deep resources of your soul are there for you to draw upon. Are you?

Or is it that you’d rather remain restless & unsettled, immobilized in your direction and stagnant in your spirit. Come on, now! Grab the helm; redirect your ship in the midst of the storms.

“A ship is safe within the harbor; but, of course, that’s not what ships are made for.” J.A. Shedd

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Death with Dignity

Brittany, Maynard, Death, Dignity, Compassion, suicide, Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, HemmingwayDeath with Dignity— Brittany Maynard, 19 November 1984 – 3 November 2014

(CNN)—  Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old who said she had terminal brain cancer, took medication to end her life under Oregon’s ‘Death with Dignity Act,’ advocacy group Compassion & Choices said Sunday.

“Brittany chose to make a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness,” a post on her website said. “She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland.”

In a statement, Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy group that has been working closely with Maynard, said she “died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.”

 

Brittany Maynard was an incredible young woman. She lived her life as she saw fit. And she ended her life as she saw fit; not enduring the agony of a terminal brain cancer, but rather choosing to die with dignity, foregoing further deterioration and suffering.

Some years ago my friend Tom faced the same choice. At age 24 he started feeling like something was very wrong. It was. His body was spotted with all kinds of cancerous cells. Like Brittany, he too made it almost to his 29th birthday, dying just 3 days before. Unlike Brittany, Tom chose to endure the pain and suffering, the loss of mobility and, eventually, mind. His death, too, was surrounded by family and friends.

Why did Tom make his decision to suffer to the end, rather than to end his life with dignity? Tom trusted in God for his life and did not believe he had a right to tamper with the decision to end it.

So, what is it to die with dignity? In Brittany’s heart and mind she believed she made the honorable, dignified decision. Tom made a different decision. Was his death any less dignified than Brittany’s? This comparison raises a serious philosophical question. Death is a complex issue. Who is the final arbiter of our passing? Soldiers sacrifice their lives for the lives of their comrades-in-arms; family members willingly put their lives on the line to save a brother, a sister, a child, a wife. But giving your life for another is not the same as taking your own life. The first is sacrificial; the second is self-centered.

The question is— Do we have the right to make the decision to end our life? In many ways I can understand Brittany’s decision. In so many other ways, I cannot. It benefited her tremendously, I suppose. But it also deprived those she loved the experience of processing her death with her; through pain, suffering, disorientation, and the end. But can we truly call it death with dignity when her death was actually assisted suicide? She believed she was dead already. I believed she deprived those who loved her from their responsibility and joy of caring for her to the bitter end.

Determining the morality of Brittany’s decision is something we need to discuss in this culture. Her choice should give us pause about our own ethic, or lack thereof, when facing our own mortality. We really do not want to think about such things until our own life is at stake.

If the truth be known, we chose not to think much about anything smacking of ultimate realities. It is simply much easier to let life carry us on from one event to the next. This is not very smart. Sooner or later we will all have to face the tougher questions in life— some sooner than later. But if we do not face them, life will seem very cruel when it takes us by surprise.

If we accept Brittany’s choice to take her own life (suicide) then we have progressed (?) to the point of convenient functionality in our society. If your father is failing, help him end his life. If your child is dying, do the same. Or maybe we need to establish a maximum age, say 70, beyond which the elderly are deemed non-productive and useless in contributing further to our society.

Really!?!

We have finally fulfilled Earnest Hemmingway’s social prophesy—

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

~For Who the Bell Tolls (1940)

Finding the Entrance to Hell

Dr, Gary, Davis, Hell, Clueless, Christians, Dante, Divine, Comedy, Newark, Contrary to popular belief the entrance to hell is NOT Newark Airport; nor is it in a hidden parking lot at LAX; nor does the entrance to hell exit in Hinesville, GA Though these are all probable possibilities, their designations as such is not even close, even if closely feeling like it.

For a culture that increasingly does not believe in God or an afterlife there sure seems to be a lot of belief in angels and demons, and in a literal Devil. God was deleted from our interest list when He infringed on our personal preferences and pleasure. Bad God, bad God! That being said, it must be noted that Jesus is making a comeback in the movie industry. Good Jesus, good Jesus. At least someone is making money

We do not like to think about the possibility of hell existing as our soul’s final resting place. We are not even sure how to describe hell, if it actually exists. For help, I point you to Dante Alighieri’s (1265-1321) Divina Commedia, the medieval worldview’s allegory of the afterlife. (Read it in English.) Some of us are deeply concerned about not going there. WE construct rules and practices to obey so that we DO NOT go there: most of us merely toss the idea aside as antiquated imagination. Thus do we play with it in the media. Hummm.

However, allow me to suggest that, though few of us are actively looking for the entrance to hell, unless you are already at Newark Airport, we certainly try to live like hell. Don’t believe me? Here’s my list on whether or not you are seeking, or heading to, hell.

1.      You put yourself and your interests first—all the time.

2.      You ignore the advice and/or criticism of people who really know you.

3.      You live by your own standards; circumstances, or the needs of others, be damned.

4.      You don’t give a rip about our world’s poor or needy.

5.      You don’t listen: your opinion or agenda are all that matter.

6.      You are stingy, tight-fisted and penny-pinching.

7.      You are kind to others only if there is something in it for you.

8.      You talk a good game, but do little to back up your words with action (ATNA).

9.      You never, never ever sacrifice.

10.  You rarely feel anything. It’s safer that way.

If any of these descriptions define you, you are well on your way to finding the entrance to hell.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Edge, Edges, Balance, innovate,Are you on the cutting edge? How do the edges of your life box you in? You need a sharp edge. Don’t go over the edge. Pushing the edge of the envelope. Edgy. The edge of tomorrow. The edge of extinction.

Pick a phrase— edges are at every corner of our lives. Some are boundaries, protecting us from going over the edge. Others leave paper cuts (ouch!). Other edges cut our steaks, or kill our adversaries. Or, metaphorically, draw us to move forward, daring us to test our limitations. Other edges cut dividing lines between families, peoples, countries, and ideologies. In one way or another, we are all on the edge of something.

My personal preference is to be on the cutting edge as much as possible— an innovator, rather than a late adapter. Not that I have to have the latest and greatest; rather, I like to create the future before it gets here. That’s all.

Someone once said to me, “Gary, you never seem happy with the way things are.” I responded, “Why thank you.” He retorted, “No, I meant that as a criticism.” I had taken it as a compliment. Different side of the blade, I guess.

What are your edges? Do they box you in? Cut paths where there are none? Or leave you with paper cuts? Whenever you try to cut through society’s crap, you are bound to get a little scraped up yourself. Is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to make a difference? To be on the next cutting edge? To make a difference?

Maybe you do not need to be an innovator. [Which tends to have a high risk-factor.] But please, don’t drag the rest of us into the “safe,” good-ol’-days of our past. Those edges are dull.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Endurance

Dr, Gary, Davis, NEEDinc, Clueless, Christianity, Endurance, Ernest, Shackleton, endure, commitmentThe Endurance was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. She was launched in 1912 from Sandefjord in Norway and was crushed by ice, causing it to sink, three years later in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica.”

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_%281912_ship%29]

The miracle is that in the last days of The Endurance being crushed by pack ice, all hands walked away from the ship. Through great hardship Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and a small accompaniment made it to safety at the South Georgia Station. Under his leadership and the crew’s perseverance the remaining crew members were rescued from the bitter weather of Elephant Island.

Upon his return to England he was knighted by King Edward VII for his leadership in such extreme circumstances. He had endured conditions so severe that polar historian Stephanie Barczewski described their endurance as “incredible.” [Barczewski, Stephanie (2007). Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton and the changing face of heroism. London: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-192-3.]

One generation later our world was engulfed in World War II. The First World War was supposed to be “the War to end all wars.” Now, of course, we know war to be a part of the corrupted, power hungry nature of all humanity. Yet it was this Second World War that prompted journalist Tom Brokaw (b.1940) to write The Greatest Generation, a book describing the metal, the stamina and perseverance of the men and women who endured such a terrible conflict.

These historic events raise a challenge for all of us—

What are we willing to endure to achieve our goals?

Few of us even raise this question today; settling instead for surviving. If we can get up in the morning and get through another day we consider ourselves successful. Amazing!

What will make our generation great? What will we have to endure to make a difference?

Of the many words that rise to the surface, certainly commitment, sacrifice, stick-to-it-tivness, hard work, focus, and suffering must come to mind.

In one of King David’s Psalms (15:4), there is a descriptor that seems most appropriate—

“… he swears to his own hurt and does not change.”  (NAS)

Commitment and perseverance may just be their own rewards.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

The time machine

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, time machine, H G wells, future, journey

Where would you go? This poster poses a whimsical question. It was released to advertise the 2002 movie version of H.G. Wells classic work The Time Machine (1895); oddly, directed by one Simon Wells. So, really, if you could travel through time, where would you go? In my 30s I had to make that decision. It was fascinating.

In my personal travels through time I can tell you that I have never seen such beautiful creatures as the ones pictured on this poster, or in the movie. That being said, I have seen the Big Bang. It was slower and bigger than most scientific postulations have it. I have seen the dividing of the land masses of Pangea as they separated from our oceans. I was present in the Garden of Eden; beautiful place, sad experience. And yes, it did all start with two people. What a surprise!

And I have seen the future. Aspects of it are incredible: other parts, not so much. For security reasons I cannot reveal too much of what I saw in my travels, but I can tell you some things.

For one “wars and rumors of wars” continue throughout the future. I found this to be disheartening. Nukes are never used again, except in small detonations; but the atrocities people inflict on one another increase in brutality and scope. Technology dominates and connects everyone. It truly is amazing. [I finally get my global computer implant!] And we actually come together under one global government; not without great compromise on all sides. America’s moral decline into an amoral pluralism is the final tipping point that couples with a compromised, secular Islam and a despairingly anemic Christianity. All becomes one. Some still hold true to their faiths:  but few.

But the question at the top of the poster still foists upon us a challenge—

Where would you go?

Some diehard Christians would go to see the birth or resurrection of Jesus. Muslims would travel back to witness Mohammed receiving the Q’ran. Asians might journey back to witness the building of The Great Wall of China (they would be gone a long time). Geologists might want to see the formation of the earth’s core and the initial drifts of earth’s tectonic plates. Astronomers would want to view the formation of our universe. (What is “dark matter” anyway?) Historians, well, they would travel everywhere and anywhere. I might want to visit with members of my ancestral-tree. From what little I do know they were a crafty bunch.

All of us would want to go somewhere. We’d want to correct the ills of the present in the ancient past. Do you think that our presence would help things? Or would we screw up? We would want to prepare for the future. Could we? “There is a time for every season under the sun… .”

Things that make you go “Hummmm?”

  Gary

 

Building Blocks

Dr, Gary, Davis, Christian, Clueless, Christianity, Building, Blocks, Build up, Most of us know the things that wear us down, that tear us down. Chronic car problems, an over-demanding boss, tension at home, “teenagers.” But what about the things that build us up? Being content one evening will not strengthen you for long:  turning in for the night with a sense of accomplishment, night after night, will do more for you than almost anything else imaginable.

So allow me to offer a list of some of the things that have, and still do, build me up-

1.      Accomplishment.

2.      Healthy relationships.

3.      Restoring broken relationships.

4.      One good, yea verily, great, friendship.

5.      Being loved.

6.      Loving someone.

7.      Sharing your pain with someone else.

8.      Crying.

9.      Resolving issues.

10.  Giving to others.

11.  Self-care.

12.  Admitting, and facing, your guilt and failures.

13.  Identifying and defining tightly that which fulfills your passion.

14.  A sense of purpose

15.  Time alone.

16.  Forming an open, transparent relationship with the God who made you.

17.  Times in deeper realities through prayer and imagination.

18.  Difficult situations.

19.  Difficult people.

20.  Working hard.

There are probably many more things that build me up, but one in particular I MUST mention or go unwisely amiss of any advice I might offer. Spending time, both quality & quantity, with my wife Starr Lynn Davis.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

insufficient evidence

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, beliefs, evidence, values, known, Let’s start by considering the opposite of insufficient evidence—namely, sufficient evidence. The question put to us is simple, “Would there be sufficient evidence to convict you of what you say you believe?” or, “What repercussions do your values have for the way you live?”

Certainly, Navy Seals can boast ample evidence that their actions bespeak of a deep belief in “God & country.”  (Their motto is Ready to lead…, ready to follow. Never quit.) People of deep religious faith generally could be convicted for their faith; there should be sufficient evidence. (If there is not…, well.) There is probably a Gallup survey that asks “To what extent do you follow through on your commitments?”

Yet in our Western, postChristian, pluralistic world there seems to be more of an inclination toward tentative commitments and cautious relationships. The fear of being known has regained unusual ground in a culture longing for safety. There has also been a rise in the fear of being wrong, or making the wrong choice or decision. Therefore, many of us never fully commit to anything. We have prenuptial agreements, escape clauses, termination parachutes, etc. We are a people who do not like to be pinned down or labeled; Christian, Republican, Conservative/Liberal, even male/female.

Part of the reason for our hesitation-to-commit is our fear of being hurt. It is our fear of being rejected from “the group,” or our insecurity stemming from our own historical observations that commitments are simply inconsequential. So why make them? We have fed this innate fear that, if we make a mistake we need to cover ourselves; we need to provide an escape route that will free us from the whole mess, the marriage, the contract, the bond. We fear being hurt so much that we don’t fully give ourselves to anything, or anyone, anymore. We always need to protect ourselves— a way OUT.

Therefore, we can never be pinned down on what we hold dear, what we value, or what we believe:  it’s just safer for us that way. Or is it?

Without sufficient evidence to hold us to any belief system or set of values we may have escaped the wrath of some other group. We may have avoided another deep heartache. But we have also demolished our own core. We have morphed its solidity for mush, its certainty for wishy-washy equivocation, which is about as inspiring as tan wallpaper.

If our leaders, and ourselves, do not hold positional beliefs and values strong and clear enough to convict us then who have we become? Insufficient evidenceis the descriptor of weaker men who do not want to be held accountable for their actions.

Let’s stand up and be counted—  even if it costs us our lives.

‘Nough said,

  Gary