Dear Howard Schultz, & Starbucks Baristas

starbucks, coffee, christmas, christian, gary, davisDear Howard Schultz (CEO), & Starbucks Baristas everywhere,

By now most of you have heard of the RANTFever that is sweeping our land over your attempt to de-Christianize Christmas on your bright RED holiday cups. I truly am sorry for all this hubbub. It’s just wrong.  “Christians are being persecuted,” some Christians cry! One man, Paul Matthew Turner, on returning from India to the US, remarked somewhat incredulously over all the fuss over the Starbucks stuff. I’ll just quote one of his less vitriol reactions here— “what a shallow, disgusting, and completely moronic portrayal of “faith” this is!” You can read more here—https://www.facebook.com/MPTAuthor?fref=ts

Josh Feuerstein, a Christian protagonist (read Jackass), offers us a more inappropriate response in his simple RANT on his Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/ Really, watch it to see what NOT to do! And read the first link as well.

What amazes me is that anyone is so surprised in 21st Century America that Starbucks is not overtly “Christian” on its holiday coffee cups! Why should they be? Since when have we been a Christian nation, or Starbucks a Christian business?!? One ABC news commentator (whom I have a secret crush on so will not reveal her name) actually said, “If you want the Starbucks cup to be more Christmasy draw a snowman on it.”

During this Holiday Season, do I expect my Volvo mechanic to stamp my bill with a manger-scene— in red & green? Do I expect my doctor to wish me Merry Christmas; he’s Jewish. (He did anyway. Go figure.) Nor do I expect St. Nick to slide down my chimney. He’d get his ass fried.

I do expect people, at this time of year, to be more joyful, loving, suicidal (I do counseling.), sacrificial, and considerate. I even expect (some) drivers to let me to cut into their lane when I use my turn-signal. It’s just “the Season.”

For Christians everywhere, genuine Christians, not the whatever-the-hell-they-are Christians, take this Season of the year to honor your neighbors. DO NOT give them a fruit-cake. Don’t be one either. Invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party! Learn to make Wassail together. DRINK Wassail together (hic). Share your family’s celebrations together.

So, dearest Howard Schultz & Starbucks Baristas, THANK YOU for your Red Cups this Season! They’re bright & cheery! I need that. Honestly, I need your coffee just as much. Especially the Gram Latte’s! They’re great! Thank you very much for them.

And, not to be offensive in any way, Merry Christmas to all of you at Starbucks! You’re doing a great job of encouraging a lot of people at this time of year. Particularly me.

…and a Happy New Year, too,

  Gary

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Why are Christians sooooo boring?

It’s no wonder none of us go to church. It’s just plain boring, and irrelevant, and a time warp into a different century. What the hell are they talking about anyway? It’s not as bad if you attend one of the more contemporary church services: at least they are more upbeat and encouraging.

But I’m talking about the real Christians, the ones you chance upon every now & then amidst the countless jerks4Jesus who claim to be genuine Followers of Christ who don’t have a clue about what’s going on in our world today. Some of them don’t even watch the news, unless it’s FOX News. Why do these people choose to be out of touch with the rest of the world? It’s a mystery.

What I’ve found is that we need Christians; well, not all of them, but some of them really get it, and want to build bridges, come to our parties, drink our beer, and hang out with us. They are the kind we need. They keep us on our toes instead of stepping on them. Some of them are even kind-of fun. A little. But, for the most part, they need our help. They need to get out more. Live life more! And definitely drink more single-malt.

OR, it could be that WE are the problem. We put them off somehow; we scare them; or maybe their radar picks up our secret that we just don’t want them around; which, given their judgmental history is quite understandable. Come to think about it, they probably see us as judgmental of them. Hmmm.

Like John Legend’s ALL OF ME, maybe it’s time we’re both showing hearts. Cards on the table.

Christians may be mostly boring…, but some of us are a little weird too…, and boring, too.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Groundhog Insurrection

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Groundhog, holiday, snow, winter, Phil                  After this past week of weather catastrophes it seemed a propitious time for a little fun. So let’s start with this odd question— What kind of culture could ever choose a Ground-hog’s emergence from his burrow and turn it into a national event?!? I mean, really!?!

Well…, that would be the United States. No other nation would use free-speech so frivolously. Nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, it is the dead of winter. It’s dreary. It’s Sno-maggedon. Depressing. SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, blankets every city, county, and state. It’s a wonder we get through it at all. But we do have our skiing, snow-boarding, winter camping…, and warm fires, and hot chocolate, not to mention hot-tubs in the snow; 12+” more today. AND, Punxsutawney Phil, or Pete, or whoever it is now. Patricia? NAH! Real men would never stand for it.

First celebrated in Morgantown, PA (1841) on Candlemas Day, Groundhog Day was the forecaster of a second bout of winter or the heralding of an early Spring, depending on whether the little rodent saw his shadow. But earlier forms of GhD have been noted in both Germany & Scotland, two countries which definitely need an early Spring.

In my winters, getting out of bed in the dark just seems wrong. The cold, I can take. The snow, I love! But early mornings…, in the dark of winter! Not so much. What does get my warm feet on the cold floor is the thought that, today, I may just make a difference in someone else’s life. Right before the blizzard hit last week I handed a $20 bill to a homeless person. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you. I’m going to go get something to eat, now.

Maybe we can’t change the weather with our actions, but we can most definitely change other things. Might I suggest we start with ourselves— then move on to help others grow. Small acts are sometimes quite significant in the lives of others.

                  What can you do today to improve another person’s life?  Not to feel good about yourself, or for some kind of recognition; simply do something for someone else because it’s the right thing to do.

So venture forth, Punxsutawney Phil, it’s a new day! You work on Spring: We’ll work on today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Stay calm; and dig out…, again.

 

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

  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

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

Beyond being in control

Gary, Davis, Control, Needinc, Clueless, Christians, Let it go, letting goStaying in control is probably the #1 value of most people in Western Society. Being out of control is scary; it is always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness. Personal security, personal independence, and personal significance are our TOP priorities (after food and shelter.) We have this innate fear of being out-of-control.

Some people take it too far; becoming micro-managers at work and a home. They must be hands-on and on-top of everything. If this attitude becomes embedded in a person’s psyche it creates issues of trust and insecurity. Even close friends do not want to be around them. Sometimes, it causes people to hide their true selves from those outside and to cocoon within a private world of fantasy or fear. This is not good for the soul.

However, there is another path to be taken for those who draw their strength and define their identity from somewhere beyond this present realm. It is for those who have decided that being in-control isn’t as safe and secure as they once thought. It is for those who are tired of working so feverishly to have power over everything around them. It is for those who are ready to let go.

Moving beyond being in control is frightening and terrifying. It means that you are consciously removing yourself from the button, the control switch, from being the central figure around whom all others must revolve. You must become such a person who will put your faith, your trust, in others, and, quite frankly, in God.

Why is it that we rise to our point of success in life, only to find a ceiling of doubt and emptiness at the top? The reason is that we were not meant to climb this ladder in isolation, as individuals; we were designed to do it in relationships: first, in relationships with those around us, and second, in relationship with the God who made us. This is not rocket-surgery; it is an obvious observance.

We must move beyond being in control to trust, to delegation, both of responsibility and authority, and to letting go. [Listen— Paul Cardall. Letting Go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUONnfHb7a8 ]. It is in letting go of control that we lose our tightness, our fears, our need for dominance, and put on the cloak of grace.

If you truly want to lead, then you must move beyond being in control and learn to let go.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

forgedaboutit

Dr, Gary, Davis, CS Lewis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, Thought, the case for Christianity“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

—C.S. Lewis

The Case for Christianity, p. 32.

            So…, if you think about it…, well, actually, you can’t. Or at least you cannot trust your thoughts about it. But you can still try to think about it. Sorta…, I guess. Ah, forgedaboutit!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Differences

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, NEEDinc, cow, differences, different No, really, sometimes it really does feel like this. People are just…, different. Maybe you’ve experienced differences in your marriage, with your teenagers (duh), or with those who say they are related to you. Certainly you’ve felt some people at work were “different.” You thought they were like this, and they turned out to be like that. Or…, something!

We are all different from other people. Sure, we may have the same character traits, financial status, eye color, body types, etc. But people are different; that is what makes our human lives so intriguing. We are never quite exactly the same. Different.

When people are different individually they can be stronger together, as a group. Their differences can bond them to support one another in a team relationship. More can be accomplished the moredifferent people, and their skills, come together to make our world a better place. Differences— joining together. Unless, of course, you believe that people who are different should all stay together in their own little group, sealed off from those who are different from them. Hummm.

Personally, I enjoy people who are different from me. I learn from them. I learn a lot. I do not have all the answers; it is through others who are different from me that I come up with new and differentquestions. And that’s a good thing. It leads to new perspectives, new answers.

That being said, I must admit that I enjoy the comradery of those who think in terms of cross-cultural communication, paradigm shifts, regional colloquialisms, and international blending. So I’m weird. What kind of people do you like to be around? Are they all the same…, or different?

My friends are a little of both. A weird bunch, to be sure. But still, I enjoy them.

So when you are deciding which crowd you want to hang with, don’t pick just one. Join different kinds of groups. Join up with people who are much older than you, and with those who are quite younger than you. In doing so you will learn from the wise, and remember how to play again from those who come after you.

I know I keep going back to the Bible, but it’s my heritage. Christians were first named Christians because no one knew what to call this hodgepodge, diverse, seemingly incompatible group of strangers who loved each other. The name stuck.

There probably isn’t a designation for the kinds of groups I associate with:  maybe wackos.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Lake Reflections

relfections on a lake, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, Christians, Peace, On Golden Pond, Reflection

Image credit- Picture Images, Gary Davis, photographer

The 1979 play On Golden Pond, written by Ernest Thompson, was a call for us to consider the rifts that develop within families and between generations. Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn portray a family whose love for one another has been long lost. Together at the lake it is testy, at best; at other times, combative. Slightly hopeful.

Lakes can be places of renewal or, as in On Golden Pond, seething tension. It’s all up to the people gathered.

Lakes have always brought out my pensive side. My musings run from how to kill those jet-skiers disturbing my peace to the journey of life, brought on by a family of loons sounding their call. I like to think a lot at a lake:  I like to write a lot at a lake, as I am doing now. Lakes draw my soul to the surface and direct my words to wander through the pages of my life.

Some of the pages record surprising “Ah-Ha!” moments; other pages, forlorn endings. In recent days I’ve written new pages within the books and articles I enjoy creating so much; other pages record new chapters of my own journey. It takes time to realize that all chapters do end, only to lay the groundwork for ensuing chapters.

Taking breaks from writing, I enjoy sailing. Sailing on a lake is invigorating! The wind pushes the boat along as it also moves the heart to soar. But today we missed the wind, sitting dead-calm on the surface. Maybe tomorrow. [Although sitting dead-calm, waiting for the wind to move, brings sailors together, uniting them in comradery, birthing new ideas.] Personally, I prefer cutting through the waves at a 60  list. More chance for error—but oh, the exhilaration!

Evenings carry the laughter around a fire-pit, where friend’s burn hamburger and chicken alike; not to mention charred buns and overcooked S’mores as the moon replaces the sun.

Finally, the exhilaration of the day gives way to closing thoughts and the body’s exhaustion. Just a bit more, writing, more pondering…, at least until the mind ceases to function.

It’s good to have friends with lakehouses who offer them to others for rest, refreshment, and rejuvenation. Find one. Then, maybe you’ll find your soul again.  Like I do— every year.

And thank you, dear friends, for lakehouses and so much more.

  Gary

Transparent Truth

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, Truth, Fire, redefine, reflect, Ultimate,   In our present era there seem to be all kinds of truths; convenient truth, relative truth, truth, Truth, your truth, my truth…, & the list goes on. What’s true for you may not be true for me. In the realms of personal preference, in fashion, and politics, this is all well and good.  But…

What about the issue of Ultimate Truth? The conclusion of many people is that there is no such thing. Truth is determined between the interplay of truth, the experience of the moment, and the individual; thus, relegating Truth, true-Truth, any truth, to the realm of relativity.

This leaves us on quite unstable ground; for there is no common understanding about what we are talking about, no shared definition of what we mean by what is trueSo, what is true? Who’s to say? Truth becomes whatever is convenient for us at the moment. Liberators or invading forces? Comforter or manipulator? Scientific breakthrough or stating the obvious? A matter of perspective.

Truth, for the most part, should be obvious— staring us in the face. Maybe not so much at a cellular or galactic level; we might need some help delving into those mysteries. But TRUTH should be part of the basic human condition, existing within us, observable around us.

Truth should be, and is, transparent to the keen eye.

            So how/when did we start redefining truth in our own terms? Why did we feel the need to do so? Is it simply a matter of divergent philosophies, divergent religions? Or merely personal preferences; Truth that suits my agenda, my priorities. Then is it Truth at all? Truth, just for you?

            I would challenge you to examine the way you determine what is true. What is true scientifically? What is true about the origin of the universe? [The newest theory is that the universe “created” itself.] What is true about yourself? What describes you to others? What is true about God? Is there one? Can we adequately describe everything without him? Hummm.

            Oddly, some of these questions will take in depth study and personal reflection; a few deep conversations over a dram of Single Malt might also help elucidate things.

            Truth can arise to become more and more transparent as we seek it. It is not as clear-cut anymore to simply grasp it where it is. Over time, Truth’s transparency will become more obvious.

            What do you think?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary