Not Like Us

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9IfnJTybxA/VslJCHgZt_I/AAAAAAAAO7c/WPUwRev0osM/s1600/Jesus-heals-leper.pngHumans are social creatures but they are also leery of those who are different from them.  This discomfort with "the others" appears to be universal, transcending geography, political affiliation, and socio-economic status. 

Wait, universal?  Can't be, right?  And yet, if you deem yourself informed, cosmopolitan, and open-minded, consider the uneasiness you are feeling about being lumped together with those who are less informed, cosmopolitan, or open-minded.  Consider also how often you have thought or declared that you are moving from where you are to another place that doesn't contain so many of "those people" whose ignorance and intolerance you are willing to uproot yourself to be away from.  Sounds a little like you're being ignorant and intolerant of their point of view.

Pretty early on in the gospel according to Mark, there's a story about Jesus' encounter with a leper.  There is a reason lepers are synonymous with being shunned: socially, religiously, and physically, they were to be separated from the rest of us lest they make us unclean.  For Jesus to interact with this leper, treating him with dignity and even reaching out to physically touch him, is a profound salve for this man and a profound statement about what God in human flesh is about. 

Whoever our lepers are, it is an innate impulse for us to want to be separated from them.  For some of us, it is Muslims, while for others of us it is people who think of Muslims in this way.  To make another Bible reference, none of us are able to cast the first stone.  All of us are guilty.  Let's stop pretending that we're somehow above this, confess that we deeply transgress in this area every day, and work hard to build the same connections Jesus did.


Job Opportunity in Wilmington

http://www.wilmingtonde.gov/media/75/large.jpgI spend a lot of work time in Wilmington, and wanted to make you aware of a job opening on something I am working on.  We're helping setting up the first land bank in the state of Delaware, and an important early step is to hire an executive director.  You can see the position description here.  I am bullish on the city and look forward to seeing how things progress in the months and years to come.


We're Moving On Up

Later this week my firm is moving up a floor.  This is about as short a move as you can get, and yet it has been a major production.  Looking forward to entertaining guests once we're settled.


Lazy Linking, 175th in an Occasional Series

The National Museum of African American History and Culture  Founding Director Lonnie Bunch said he expects to raise roughly $300 million by the museum’s opening date.Stuff I liked lately on the Internets:

175.1 The economics of restaurants in the age of online dating wapo.st/1UwYvSC @washingtonpost

175.2 Are gender-neutral honorifics the gateway to a more inclusive vocabulary? bit.ly/1WSkBp6 @kottke

175.3 Smithsonian's Natl Museum of Afr Am History/Culture beat its fundraising goal bit.ly/1UTkJl0 @wbjonline

175.4 Silicon Valley's plans to colonize Mars = thought experiment for non-Earth governance structures bit.ly/1XuURPG @qz

175.5 Millennials say they want to live in NYC/SF but based on what matters to them Philly trumps both onforb.es/1W4zovV @forbes


Me, 25 Years Ago

Twenty-five years ago this month I graduated from high school.  It seems so long ago and it was: college, 2 jobs I've worked 10+ years each, wife, 3 kids, ups, downs, and all arounds.

It is trendy to think about what would I tell the 18-year-old version of myself if I could go back in time.  But I have no regrets about my high school days.  I had good friends, I went to a good school, I hit the books hard, but I also had a good time.  I stayed out of the kind of trouble I wanted to stay out of, and may or may not have gotten into the kind of trouble I did want to get into but no one has any evidence.  In short, I'm not sure I would've changed anything about my high school experience, with the lone albeit glaring exception that I wouldn't have sweated as much about whether or not I looked dorky in glasses.  (Obvi I did, and I should've just realized that I did but that that didn't really matter.)

And that, in a nutshell, is what makes me thankful for the life I've lived.  I realize that others didn't have nearly as good of a high school experience, and that that bad taste has lingered for a long time.  As for me, my high school teachers set me up to go to a good school and gave me both content and an ability to and love for content absorption.  And, I am still in touch with many of my closest friends and consider them among my closest friends to this day.  Indeed, others I wasn't as close with in high school I have drawn closer to since then, thanks to the wonders of Facebook and the bonding experience of being a parent or running a business or just going through the vagaries of life.

In sum, I am feeling full and happy with this chance to reflect on 25 years.  I regret not being able to see my classmates more often and more easily.  But I don't wish to go back in time to change anything. 


My Healing Heart

We're at exactly the halfway point of what is expected to be a 90-day healing period for my heart, after I had my catheter ablation procedure in late April.  So far, so good.

My pulse is faster than normal but apparently that's normal and actually an indicator that my probability that I'm past my irregular heartbeat is high.  I am feeling some tightness in my chest but that is likely due to normal inflammation and ibuprofen appears to be keeping that in check.

I've been slowly getting back into my exercise routine.  I'm way far away from pre-surgery levels, and there have been some days I've gone backwards instead of forwards, but nonetheless it's good to test my heart a little more each week and have it be OK after.  After all, you only get one heart, so it's good that this one is holding up so far.  Thanks to all for their prayers and encouragements.


Do It in Private

https://mwcma.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/blindfold-critique-joshua-david-lynch.jpgIn our social media and reality TV obsessed world, here's a good litmus test for your spirituality, which is when you do something good, whether and how you tell the world about it.  There is obviously a place for trumpeting your deeds, to encourage and exhort others to do the same.  But there's also a way in which having to announce how great you are is bad for your soul.  Jesus suggests as much, as recorded in Matthew 6:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.  

"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.  And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

Pride is an insidious soul-killer.  It is celebrated in our culture and it is hard to shed in even the most mature believer.  Touting your good deeds is often borne of a need to feed your ego.  (By the way, you can also take pride in your ability to do something good and not have to tell the world; that's how insidious pride is.)  If you're a social media over-sharer like me, it's good every once in a while to do something good and keep that to yourself.  It'll be good for you.