By Daniel Burke and Livia Borghese, CNN
Rome (CNN) -- The photo roused emotions and sparked conversations around the world -- but the man at the center of the image says the moment left him speechless.
"I tried to speak, to tell him something, but I couldn't: The emotion was too strong," says Vinicio Riva, the disfigured man embraced by Pope Francis in images that…
BY DANIEL GRISWOLD
November 6, 2013
In mathematics, an “identity” is an equation that is valid for all its variables.
For a human, the definition is similar. A quick search on Dictionary.com shows that most of the definitions of the word “identity” tend to assume “oneness.” For example: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another” and “the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time.”
I first started thinking consciously about identity when I was taking classes in youth ministry with Dean Borgman, and he asked us to read David Elkind’s book, “All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis,” which describes a disease of identity known as the “patchwork self.” This is a condition that happens to teens, or any age group, when they are under great stress without guides and relationships that encourage wholeness of self. This wholeness is inclusive of one’s value system and how one acts in the world according to those values.
The patchwork self is one who never created one homogenous set of values, and thus, acts according to whatever the norm is in the group they are in. An example would be a businessman who extorts money from a company with fellow co-workers, then chastizes children for stealing at the grocery store.
So why is this a problem? Why is it bad that people act differently with different groups? Isn’t that just part of getting along? I’m not talking about what brand of soda you like, or what type of frosting should be on the cake. I’m talking about the big things in life that require us to dig deeply into our value system and make decisions appropriately. These decisions forge new destinies.
One image of this that really got my attention was in the movie “Valkyrie,” starring Tom Cruise as a man who is charged by a secret party to assassinate Hitler. After the assassination attempt, communications would be sent telling the outside world that Hitler was dead. When the attempt came, they relayed the false message, and began relaying all the information that a new government had been set up.
A problem arises — Hitler is not dead. He restores communications and sends out messages to arrest the group. The communications hub receiving these transmissions then has to make a decision. Orders are going out for arrests of both sides. It is utter chaos. The leader of the hub is either committed to Hitler and his government (that is killing people and perpetuating war) or the opposition’s node and a revolutionary.
Either way, neutrality means losing. How is one supposed to be trusted if a simple decision cannot be made? In times of uncertainty, who leads? Sometimes situations require us to decide who we are and where we stand. It causes stress until the moment a decision is made.
What are your values? What is important? What decision would you have made?
In the letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Romans he states, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” He’s calling us to unify ourselves in common goodness with God’s purposes.
Meditate on these words for some time, and begin to think through the question: “Who am I?” and “What makes me who I am?” If chaos ensues, begin to work it through — take some time.
Sometimes there are patches on us that we didn’t know were there. The point is to discover and find the oneness that the definition of identity entails. And when you’re well along that trail, perhaps you can help a few others start that road and have fun doing it.
Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog at http://www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.
I was reading through Psalms this morning and noting how dark and heavy the burden of leadership must have been for David. The imagery is of warfare, deliverance, and sometimes extreme violence. It denotes a man who had seen all these things, and the Psalms seem like a personal diary of David’s honest emotional relationship with God. Some of the portions do not seem like scripture in a New Testament sense – they are raw and show David’s distrust of his enemies (who are trying to destroy him and his country). But then light seems to break out – and David moves from recording laments and doodling his cry for help and he begins to worship God – that clarity and these moments are like refreshing water to the dehydrated. I feel for David, but in my devotion this morning – I also worship with him. Join me in reading Psalm 8:
“Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth!You have set your gloryin the heavens. Through the praise of children and infantsyou have established a stronghold against your enemies,to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens,the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars,which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them,human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angelsand crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands;you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds,and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,and the fish in the sea,all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Thank you Lord for bringing David to worship even in the midst of chaos. You charged him with leadership and he sometimes wavered, but he always loved you. May we all, even in our own triumphs and victories, remember you – our Creator, and fall on our knees from time to time to give you you’re due. You perform miracle after miracle, including the greatest one of all – existence. For this I am glad. Amen.
Real Conversations Mean Listening, Being Present
By Daniel Griswold
I recently watched an interesting episode of the television comedy, Friends, in which during an alternate universe scene, one of the characters (Pheobe) has a heart attack. Upon returning to work, Pheobe is told that she is fired, and while she is having a second heart attack due to the stress of the news, a co-worker walks by. As she passes she asks Pheobe, “Hey, how are you doing?” Pheobe basically responds, “I’m fired and I’m having a heart attack.” The co-worker, completely ignoring Pheobe’s response says, “Well, glad to have you back,” and continues on her way.
The scene is striking because it is true. Often in our own routines, and wrapped in our own multi-tasking, we find ourselves callous to the reality of those around us. We listen, but only to gain the pertinent information to the tasks we are performing. Sure, this is often a necessary function of working together and seems quite logical, but does this not irk us within when someone else does this to us individually? What does this look like? It is a blank stare, only gazing long enough to make brief eye contact, the stare moves beyond every chance it gets, because the “listener” is not really with us. Only one of the ears is on us, the other is on the potential of the next conversation. What does this feel like? It makes us feel as if we are not very important to the one “listening” and causes a rift slowly over time, if quality listening and real affection do not come in time during the relationship. We do not like to be half listened to because it makes us feel less human. We become nothing but a source of information, and the relationship potential becomes secondary to the functional. This leads to burn out, and loss of quality friends/family/coworkers over time. Has anyone ever done this to you in your home or in the office – at church? Have you ever realized that someone is not valuing the moment they have with you? We all do it from time to time to others, but how can we guard against this? How can we make sure to have Real Conversations and affirm the humanity of those we work and are in contact with regularly?
Like many disciplines, the first step is to seek to always be aware. Being aware of how you are treating others, means that you are constantly monitoring your eye contact and ensuring that you are not looking around ready for the next conversation should it occur. Being aware means keeping both ears focused on the one speaker, comprehending the depth of the message, and not just the outline, or the surface level data of the conversation. Being aware means giving feedback that shows you are interacting with what is being presented to you and that you understand the wholeness of it. When someone says, “I hope you are doing well, I’ve been praying for you,” you do not reply, “Good, you?” and move on, but rather something like, “I am well, I appreciate your prayers.” Or if you meet with a co-worker/minister who tells you of a great story that happened at the fellowship event the night previous, you do not say, “Oh, yeah. Cool. Did you finish the research?” but rather, you affirm that their celebration is worthwhile, and celebrate with them for a moment. This awareness may make getting business done a bit more clunky and cumbersome, but if this personal tact is not excessive, it can flesh out the often impersonal office work and give people a place that their work has meaning, and where they feel that they are more than just means to an end. They become more human in the midst of their work.
This not only applies to the work place, but to every conversation we have. Whenever something becomes familiar, we can make if a routine, and the relationship can become less valuable to us. By being aware of every relationship in every conversation we hold ourselves accountable to the image of God in every person (imago dei; Gen. 1:26, 5:1, 5:3). And whether we like those around us or not, we are to give each person respect as fellow creatures, and love each other as those who have been created by God, as those who have been given an opportunity to love one another (1 John 4:7) in greater ways each day. Start today, and decide to have Real Conversations with each person you meet today. Meet the challenge, and your life will certainly be enriched, and perhaps more blessed than before.
Dan is the Youth Director at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC on Hilton Head Island, SC
Twitter: @Dannonhill Email: DanielGriswold@Gmail.com
*Originally published in The Island Packet’s Bluffton Edition
Pastors Corner: Shiny New Things
By Daniel Griswold
Youth Director at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC
Hilton Head Island, SC Twitter: @Dannonhill Email: DanielGriswold@Gmail.com
This article was originally published in The Island Packet, Bluffton Edition
Last Wednesday iOS 7, the newest operating system for the iPhone was released in the United States. For an entire week building up to the launch, the internet and many of my friends had been buzzing, hoping to be able to be the first to try it out on their phone. For non-Apple people, this is a major revamp of iOS and changes the look, feel and inner workings of the phone on a level not seen in a long time. The New Factor was extremely high, much like someone waiting for a revamp of the prior year’s Corvette. On launch, at 1 pm, Facebook and Twitter (as well as Instagram) went wild reporting those who could actually download it. The demand being so high, that the servers could not bear the load of all, so many are waitlisted until a later time when the servers go idle. This is not just an Apple phenomenon, in general, most people love new things.
I think on my own life, as my wife and I expect our first child, and the excitement that this new development is bringing to our home. Last year we adopted a Mini-Scnauzer named Bella, and now, we’re going to have a real live human being to take care of. I’ve already been told by just about everyone that our lives will be completely changed – and it is going to be good. The newness of a future child has me nervous and excited, like being in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park – the really big ones. All I know is that I’m going to do this – and I’m going to do all I can to make it as awesome as I can. Adrenaline races through me as I think about it, and I’m finding my being refreshed, rebooted, and remade by my new reality.
The reverence that comes with viewing newness changes us, much like the moment in my life when I was renewed in the spirit as I began to try to understand God and began a relationship with Jesus years ago. When I read these lines from 2 Corinthians in relation to looking at Christ as my savior from a life of darkness, and brought to a new light: “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” I imagine the earliest Christians grappling with what it would mean to live out a faith that was new and exciting and that would be pioneered as a lifestyle, often misunderstood, yet strong and full of the Spirit of God.
Like all new things, I felt pulled into its rotation by its natural beauty, and unlike an object that I hold in my hand, the relationship kindled by God’s love continues to transform me each and every day. This message is for all, that we can be brand new, because there is a God in Heaven who came to us, and says, “Come with me.”
Yesterday we all survived the “Apple-Pocalypse”. For anyone who owns a recent “i” product from the white fruit company, there was a sudden peer pressure to upgrade to the newest version of operating system. Namely, “iOS 7″. Not creative, but the name probably shouldn’t detract from the shiny-ness of the product itself.
After having used the OS for about a week prior to launch thanks to a “Lifehacker” blog, I was able to test drive some things and see what I liked and potentially didn’t like before the servers exploded on launch day. If you haven’t downloaded yet, now might be a good time and this is why I think you should:
(1) Everything looks and feels better. Apple has spent a lot of time fine tuning the Keyboard, making the OS move faster (I’m running an iPhone 4S), and taking away all the fake Bevels and Gradients that clogged the visuals of previous operating systems. The new look is solid and much more cheerful (bright and airy). At the same time, the backgrounds are much more detailed and beautiful (honing in on the Desktop Background experiences as Handheld computing becomes more popular). The fonts have been redone to embolden or recede as necessary in the Phone and Texting Apps, and the icons create a different ethos than was previously had. Even the notes app is brighter and easier to use. Going back to iOS 6 would be abrasive visually.
(2) There has been much more added functionality (and accessibility). The number one improvement I like is that you can go into your “Cellular” settings and choose which apps are allowed to use Cellular data. If you want to cut off a data hog thats not always necessary, you now have the precision tool to do it. New Menus are also accessible by thumb swipes giving easy grap of the new built in Flashlight button, music controls, bluetooth, wifi, sleep, airplane mode, and especially at Brightness slider – all in one spot. Some utilities like Camera, Calculator, and time are also there for quick picks. Lastly, the Folders now can slide and have multiple pages – not sure if I need it, but its nice to know its there).
(3) The movement is more bouncy, and feels fun. Texts bounce up and down when stopping (though only slightly), notes are similar when going up and down, the apps fly on and off screen when locking/unlocking the phone, and the folders grow and retract more smoothly than I remember. The background creates depth by moving in the background, so my chosen image of stars and clouds tilt as I tilt the phone. Its fun to show others and to do when I’m bored in meetings while checking the time.
Other things: The basic app selection on the phone doesn’t seem to have changed much. Facetime seems to appear more prominently, with the same green icon as Phone and Messages, but apps like Passbook are growing in utility as apps come out that allow you to collect plane tickets, gift cards and movie stubs. I hope this continues to develop. The Maps app still isn’t as good at Google Maps, Gmail (for Gmail users) is still more precise search-wise with Google’s app than Apple’s. The camera is more robust now with different modes and filters on live images which is fun (having instagram like abilities from the get go. All the apps still work too – so its not like you’re going to miss much, and the new things will take some time to play with, but will soon become useful.
In conclusion, pick up the new iOS as soon as you can. There really isn’t a downside and it seems like there is a lot of upside. Its fun, pretty, and functional (and continuing to get better with each revision). For Apple fans, just do it.
(Photo Credit: http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/ios7_cover_photo_2.png)
Bluffton Youth Group tomorrow night, AND the Surf MS Youth Kickoff on HHI is this Wednesday at 6 pm! Woot!
It is hard to believe that it has been 12 years since I woke up from my college dorm, walked out to see everyone glued to the television and watched the 9/11 attack live on television. Months later, in an airplane landing in New Jersey’s Newark airport, I remember watching the plumes of smoke still rising and realized that this was something I would never forget. It is not because my safety was shattered, or because our national ego needed avenging, but because people, loved by God and their family, were angrily and forcefully destroyed. Many suffered physically and today many are mourning fathers, mothers and children who were made into weapons. For myself, I’m reminded that there will always be some form of conflict in the world and that some will try to enforce their own views by force. I’ll be praying for those who consider me their enemy today. We all have choices to make about how we live life. We can live in anger and seek revenge, or we can look to God and see a way towards peace. I’m praying that every person will get the opportunity to consider their actions, and choose not to destroy but rather, to build. A scripture that comes to mind comes from Luke’s gospel:
Luke 1:78-79 NIV
”because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
As the world expands and millions are added to our growing number of cities, war is becoming more catastrophic, more destructive, and displacing more each time it occurs. I’m praying for all those who are in war zones today. All the families, all the soldiers, and all the people who sent them there – may God give each person wisdom and the heart to make decisions that make the world a better place, rather than a smoldering, desolate black hole. Let us seek peace.
By DANIEL GRISWOLD — firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever been to a “Family Worship Service”? I have, and it was fascinating. The service I’m thinking about was a Christmas service at a church I had served near Boston. I sat in the balcony, where I had a great view of the hundreds of moms, dads and their children. Whole families were sitting together in the pews — and it was noisy.
Sometimes when we think of church, we think of contemplative chapels with candles lit, silent prayers of confession, worship with a well-trained choir who sing with well-picked pauses and preachers who stop to let one think. Family services are nothing like that. Children have very few boundaries, and so the sanctuary becomes a place of constant movement (sort of like a hill of ants after having been kicked).
I worshipped with these families in an incredibly participatory style. We danced, played and listened to stories. Our eyes darted as children decided to dance in the aisles, and there was not candle lighting at the end like at most Christmas services I had attended. This was family friendly.
I left feeling exuberant, and having been raised in a family of five as the oldest, I enjoyed every minute. My church had brought families together and demonstrated an act of incredible vibrancy. Not all people felt as I did, however. I asked one of the worship directors (not a children’s ministry worship leader but a whole church worship leader who had led with guitars and singing) how he felt about it after giving my glowing review, and he was not as optimistic. The same energy, seeming chaos and unpredictability that I was celebrating was a thing of disconcertment for him. He felt out of control, unable to perceive where the service was going to go, and I believe he didn’t feel a sense of connection with his intended audience.
On Sunday mornings in a gathering of more than 1,000, the harmony of many adult voices singing would be quite different. I left him and wondered to myself about the canyon between our perceptions on such a lively worship event and I’ll admit I was a bit discouraged.
The question that bothers me the most is this, “Should children worship with adults?” We’re quite good at segregating the ages and sending children to “Kids Church,” youth to the “Youth Service,” and young adults to various small groups and offering fellowship offerings throughout the week. But I’ve always wondered how that affects the future of the church. What does it say to a child? When you take them into a place where we say we are entering and recognizing the Glory of God, and then, we send them to another place?
One who studies basic behavioral psychology knows that children develop patterns early on, and those patterns remain with them the rest of their lives. One alarming statistic going about the church today is that millennial young adults are not returning to the church. But I think to myself, we’ve been sending them away for a long time, why would they come back?
In Matthew 19, we see a similar tendency to segregate when the disciples rebuke parents from taking children to have Jesus pray over them. He says quite explicitly, “Let the little children come to me.”
I think this deserves some attention in our sanitized, clean and orderly modern worship services. How undignified are we willing to go to be welcoming and faithful to our future generations — who are the church of today not, as people often say, “the church of tomorrow”? Personally, I love when something out of the ordinary happens in church. A crying baby means there is life in that church. A teen might seem bored but at he or she is trying — and it means the family cares enough to build patterns of faithfulness in that young person’s life.
So how far are you willing to go? What would a family church look like? God’s family has all ages — from the Greatest Generation to the least.
Let’s get uncomfortable together.
Does anyone else w AT&T think it isn’t fair practice to charge for data we don’t request (background processes) & report actual data use up to 72 hrs after its used?
Personally, my wife and I are hoping to welcome a new baby into the world in February, and so I had to take a hard look at our budget and see where we can cut costs to ensure we can make it when we pay the birthing expenses and I hear diapers cost a ton.
One budget item that I can’t keep my finger on is the AT&T data billing. Two different months I have tried to use up all my data (4 GB) and not go over. Let me tell you – it has been a horrible experience. Both times I have gotten frequent reports from AT&T’s system and when I was about to go over I turned off all cellular data, I took snapshots of the timestamps stating that I still had a few mb left prior to flipping over to my new bill.
THEN, I receive my bill. I’ll have anywhere from 4 to 100 mb over and a $15 charge. That’s $15 that I don’t intend to spend, so I call up AT&T and ask what happened.
The first time this happened they refunded it without much question but told me that their systems do not monitor in real time. I told them that’s ridiculous. How am I supposed to use all my data (which I pay for), if I don’t have accurate reporting. I then told them that in the tech world people get sued for things like that. AT&T might get pulled into something in the future. The caller refunded me $30 more for the bad experience but I reiterated that the problem still existed.
The second time I tried to be even more careful. I even backed off on the data and left some wiggle room. Still! The bill comes in and I am 4 mb over. $15 please? I called up immediately and stated what I had done (same process as before). Only this time, the woman on the line immediately went on the defensive. She stated that I should not get close to my limit. I responded that I should be able to use the data I pay for without fear of being over charged.
She then told me something that infuriated me. Apparently, if I want to have my data turned off immediately when I hit my limit, there is a $4.99 service that I can add to my plan. So if I want to have any chance not to pay an extra $15 a month and use all the data that I pay for already, I have to pay $5 for an auto switch that should be at my disposal as a setting on my phone in the first place! We danced a bit and she was getting annoyed so I let her know I wasn’t trying to win the argument against her but that AT&T is wrong in this. It’s not right to inflate consumers bills without giving them the basic tools of responsibility.
Data is a commodity. You wouldn’t give someone a stream of gas at a gas pump and wait 72 hours to send a report to how much gas went onto the gas tank. You have to tell the consumer how much they have taken. It’s a basic weight and scale issue. And I believe that AT&T knows that its making higher revenue off of this imbalance of power. They have the scale and they’ll let you use theirs if you pay a few. It’s sketchy.
The last straw came for me when the lady said, “All major carriers operate this way.” If something is wrong and everyone is doing it, shame on the whole system. An appeal to the majority doesn’t win the day and certainly lost my confidence at least in this customer representative.
If I’m charged $15 for an extra 1 GB over 4 GB, I’d like to be able to know when I’m about to go over and be capable of deciding for myself whether to go over or not. And there are months where I intend to exceed my limit. Ill pay for those months. Until then I’m going to call everytime I graze the limit. I should be able to use the data I pay for and not a dime more.
If you agree or disagree, shoot me a comment and Spread this so that AT&T doesn’t get away with this forever.