I love it when sports gives me the best illustration ever…

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Disobeying a team rule.

Not an NCAA rule. Not a law. Not even a MSU rule. An undisclosed team rule.

It was for that, Coach Mark Dantonio benched his best player, his team captain, his undisputed leader of his tea. An undisclosed team rule.

That’s principled coaching.

I’ve been teaching the 7 Habits on the Inside (this is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People applied to prisoners living prison life) twice a week for 6 months now and once a week for over a year before that. It’s safe to day (as I am not deep into my 10th class) I am fully immersed in the 7 Habits lifestyle/program/cool aide…

Most basic to the program is living by principle.  Not living by indulgence, need, or want – principle. The idea that I know who I am, what I want, and what legacy I am leaving – I live to that. I live by my thought about, analyzed, tested principles.

This is why I loved watching the Spartans tonight. They played their football. The knowledge that they benched their best player on no less than the biggest game they have played for two decades, the 100th Rose Bowl, national television, Stanford. They benched their Player for an undisclosed team rule on the biggest game ever for everyone on that team.

That’s a principled team.

Then, there is Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind – living your life according to your vision. Seeing your legacy and then living according to that legacy rather than the one that comes by living out the default setting.

A year ago, Mark Dantonio walks on to the Rose Bowl field. Stands in the endzone and sees it all happening. His daughter captures the moment on a cell phone. He tells his team in the video that this is where they are going. A year before it happens, he stands on the field and sees it all before it takes place. Then, he takes his team there.

Vision.

Living by Principle and Vision.

Thanks Coach. I’m going to get a solid 20 minutes of great discussion out of this…

Out of the Closet

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I like Musicals. Always have.

We went to watch Frozen the other day.

We then bought the soundtrack.

Its been playing almost as much as Christmas music in our house for the last three days.

I would say that I’m a great parent and willing to listen to my kids favorite music but that would not be accurate. I will own that when I was at work yesterday, I wrote a memorandum whilst “Let It Go” blasted from my computer speakers.
I love that song. I love that Sophie loves that song.

Today, while I was reading the news, she came up to me in a pokadot dress and said, “Will you dance with me?”

Maybe its the prison. I looked at her big eyes and had this vision of her growing up. I’m getting old and my kids are growing up.

Christmas Eve 9 years ago, I met Sara for real. We talked till Christmas Day. Now we have three children, survived two deployments, have lived in 7 different cities, and still in love. It’s a different love. A resilient love born of adversity. The best kind.

Huh, didn’t intend to get all introspective, I intended to write about what I liked about Frozen. Here it is:

There is this strange power that one of the sisters has. It comes out when she has strong feelings. Fear, anger etc. Her well-meaning parents, acting on the information they have, keep her hidden away, avoiding anything that would trigger emotions. They teach her to control her power by suppressing it.

What a metaphor for suppressing anger, pain, and other emotions! Her power is uncontrollable and dangerous because she never learned to manage it. I resonate strongly with this. Much of my pastoral care is helping people integrate suppressed emotions into their present in a healthy way. When we suppress stuff, its going to come out and if we don’t learn to experience our emotions in a healthy way, explosions are the natural consequence. The energy has to go somewhere!

Redemption comes in the story as the queen learns to experience both the positive and negative sides of her power in a healthy way. Everybody benefits. I love it.

And, I’ve always liked Disney musicals. And musicals in general. I was a music major in college and its not good to suppress that side of me…

On Things I don’t understand.

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We’ve been reading “Charlotte’s Web” at night before bed. All the kiddos get teeth brushed, jammies on, and snuggled up in bed and I read another chapter from E.B. White. Tonight we read this – it’s from the chapter where Mrs. Arable is concerned that her daughter is going crazy, what with the talking to the animals in her uncle’s barn. The conversation drifts to the miracle of a spider’s web, “it’s a miracle” the doctor proclaims, “the spider is not taught and yet it can still make that web…”

Dr. Dorian: “Well, who taught a spider? A young spider knows how to spin a web without any instructions from anybody. Don’t you regard that as a miracle?

Mrs. Arable: “I suppose so. I never looked at it that way before. Still, I don’t understand how those words got into that web. I don’t understand it and I don’t like what I can’t understand.” 

Dr. Dorian: “None of us do,” said Dr. Dorian sighing. “I’m a doctor and doctor’s are supposed to understand everything. I don’t understand everything and I don’t intend on letting it worry me.” 

Exactly. Thanks for that E.B. 

R’s Fav Holidays… go figure…

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So, my four year old son says to me tonight, “Do you want to guess my four favorite holidays?” 

“Of course. You have four?” 

“Yes. Four favorites.” 

“Can you have four favorites?” 

Silence. “Do you want to guess?” 

“Yes, Son, I do…” 

Here are my Son’s favorite holidays by order of importance: 

1. Halloween. 

2. Valantine’s Day (I got this one wrong) 

3. Easter (the hint was “this is when you look for Easter eggs” – I nailed it.) 

4. Field Trip Day. 

Here is a list of my understanding of why each holiday made the list: 

1. Candy

2. Candy

3. Candy 

4. Field Trip Day – does it really need an explanation? 

You’re welcome. 

I’m a prison chaplain. I talk about sex addiction with addicts on a regular basis.

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…You should know that before reading this post. In it, I am going to acknowledge the existence of sex and… other words…

So… I read this today on Huffington Post. It’s about a reddit group “NoFap” (Fapping is masturbating), a collection of (and I just saw this – it’s significant) no less than 74,000 “fapstronauts.” These are *mostly* men, 89% of whom are under the age of 30 who have taken a pledge not to “fap” for a variety of reasons not the least of which is to improve their sex life. Read the article, there are alot of amazing stats. 

Item I find MOST fascinating? Zero talk of religion. 

This is not a religious movement. It’s a personal health one. 

When I was in Bible College (I now own that I am a graduate of Pensacola Christian College – they kicked me out 3 weeks before my graduation, then gave me my degree a year later – though for years I said something like, “I went to a small private college in Florida when asked…) there were thousands of sexually repressed young men who “fapped” all the time. It was referred to by those who dared acknowledge it’s existence (though never by it’s actual name – I have a memory I’d love to erase of Gregg Mutch the college president preaching a sermon to “just the guys” about, and I am not kidding here, true story, “stroking the snake of pornea”). Those progressive enough to own that sometimes 19 year old men who are not allowed to get within 6 inches of a girl (broke that one a few hundred not sure how many times..) sometimes might give into the lustful thoughts constantly on their mind and “fap” also used the most powerful tool in the fundamentalist arsenal to fight it – guilt. 

Nothing like some good, old-fashioned, unadulterated guilt to make someone go forward and confess to someone else that you had “thoughts” and sometimes even “lustful thoughts.” It was unhealthy and made sex dirty. 

We were told it was bad, bad, bad and then, once married, its on like Donkey Kong. Cause that’s not weird and backward. 

Understand. I have, as a chaplain, experienced the dark side of porn addiction. It is very painful and what it does to families is a plague. 

What is amazing about this article is that this group approaches the idea of purity for their own health. It is people who come to some kind of awareness that their tastes and pleasures are not healthy and they want purity. And they seem to be doing it without guilt! 

More power to you. 

This article was encouraging to me. Whether we approach a healthy view of sex from a religious worldview or not, less porn use is better for the human race. 

Update: here’s the website: http://www.nofap.in

Also: your brain on porn – quite good

George Washington on Religious Freedom

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“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

This is the MOST EXCITING blog post IN THE WORLD!!!

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Really? Of all the blog posts in all of the world, this one is the most exciting?

Categorically false.

It’s a superlative. An adjective or an adverb that expresses the degree to which the word used is greater than any other comparison. And the inappropriate use of superlatives really gets to me. I seem to hear them being used more and more in common speech. I wonder, often out loud, if the person speaking has the vocabulary to properly describe what they are seeing/hearing/experiencing. I experience their use as unhelpful and often discrediting to the point that the speaker is trying to make. When I hear exclusive language (you do that all the time) or superlatives (you are the worst person in the world) I tend to just turn them off. If I do it…

In relationship counseling that I do, I try to help people appropriately describe themselves so that arguments are about what they need to be about rather than semantics. I can’t tell you how many times discussions are torpedoed because of the unhelpful and inappropriate use of superlatives.

Today I read this from a sitting US Congressman, “The US Government has come out in full force against you, the American people.”

Really? Full force? What I’m hearing him saying is that the Government of the United States, the organization that I personally work for and this man represents (his facebook lists him as a “government official”) is using everything at their disposal to come against all of us, the American people.

Really? Full force?

Categorically false.

Here’s what “full force” looks like – Syria. That’s full force.

I’m fairly certain that this young congressman has never actually seen what “full force” looks like. It’s ugly. I’m thinking genocide, starvation, bombs, hellfire missiles, armed Soldiers on street corners, restrictions on actual, tangible freedoms like the freedom of movement, checkpoints, slaughter. That’s full force. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it and it is ugly and terrifying.

Really? Full force?

This is not a commentary on politics. As an officer in the United States Army, I am very aware of the power of words. They matter. I cannot just say anything I want. When a person is in a position of power, words matter. Context matters. In the course of my career, I’ve pulled leadership above my rank and below my rank aside to help them understand how their words are being perceived and encouraged them to think about the second and third order of effect their words might have.

At a memorial ceremony once, I heard an officer in the heat of emotion tell young privates to “give them hell” and “do what you gotta do” in reference to the enemy. Later, I spoke with the leader and gave him the feedback that when an officer says that sort of thing to a Soldier on the battlefield, it could be construed as an order or, in the least, confusing. Rules of engagement are hard enough without officers using language that seems to contradict those rules. In that context, words can be dangerous.

I would argue that this congressman’s words could be dangerous. He either actually believes this (when then makes me wonder how he would escalate his language if it got worse in his estimation) or he is trying to make a point and get attention. In that case, he needs to think about the second and third orders of effect those words might have. I wonder if a violent and unstable person might hear those words from a sitting congressman and this confirms that the paranoia in his head is real and demands violent action.

Words matter. Context matter. Opinion expressed matters. I would suggest that once you become a congressman, you should not say anything you want in any way you want to say it. It is decrediting to your education, your perspective, and does nothing to broaden support for your position.

When a person is in leadership, they must consider their words. Use some discipline for heaven’s sake!

UPDATE

Today I read this article about public shaming on social networks. It made this statement, “Increasingly, our failure to grasp our online power has become a liability — personally, professionally, and morally. We need to think twice before we unleash it.” Exactly.

Prayer against “the tyranny of trifles”

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May this be your prayer today as it is mine:

“In this, the day that the Lord hath made, help us, O God, to appreciate its beauty and to use aright it’s opportunities.

Deliver us, we pray, from the tyranny of trifles. May we give our best thought and attention to what is important, that we may accomplish something worthwhile. Teach us how to listen to the prompting of thy Spirit, and thus, save us from floundering in indecision that wastes time, subtracts from our peace, divides our efficiency, and multiplies our troubles. In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

– from The Prayers of Peter Marshall