Archive for the 'Foresight' Category



Video Month!

Today is August 1st! My mother’s birthday, and The Beginning of the End of the Year, how I reckon the calendar. (I can’t believe 2009 has gone by this fast!) I’ll be starting a brand-new semester at the end of this month; in the meantime, I’m declaring August to be Awesome Video Month at zoecarnate. I’ll be highlighting videos from TheOOZE.tv. Then toward the end of the month I’ll be participating in an innovative meme with Frank Spencer, Kevin Beck, Brittian Bullock and hopefully others. As always, I’ll keep on ROMming.

Stay tuned!

PS: Do you Twitter? Let’s follow each other! I’m @zoecarnate

The Future of This Blog

https://i2.wp.com/i59.photobucket.com/albums/g316/Goonsquad4/question-mark-1.jpgSo I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s almost cliche, longtime bloggers lamenting their lack of time, or greater reliance on Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed, or life malaise or life busyness – and then saying that they’re hanging their blog up.

All of this describes me –  and yet I’m not hanging it up. I like to write, and I need to write – so I’m going to step it up. I’m going to taking blogging even more seriously, even if it’s becoming unfashionable. I’m realizing that it’s important to me, as a creative outlet and a life-discipline. But I am going to change up my game somewhat, and open up to blogging metamorphosis. Here’s what you can expect:

More about my personal life.

I’ve always gravitated toward blogs that are more journalistic and commentary-driven in nature, as opposed to the ‘Dear Diary’ types. And I’ve blogged thusly – I haven’t really thought of my personal life as being that interesting. If I’m hooked by someone writing about their personal lives, it’s usually because they have a really catchy style – they’re not Jacques Cousteau or anything. And neither am I. That said, I received an email from a friend of mine a couple of months back. It wasn’t ‘nice.’ Essentially he said “I know what you think about religion and politics, but what about you? What’s going on in your life? Do you have a spiritual pulse?”

Ouch.

I have things to share; I want to be more transparent with you, dear readers. All is not well in Morrell-land. While I’ll not blog about things that involve others to protect the innocent, I am going to open up more about my own life journey, my struggles and glimpses of grace. True confessions time!

My whole-health journey.

Yes, this includes my continuing ROM experience, but it’s so much more. I feel like I’ve been especially slacking in blogging in this area, mostly because I’ve been completely neglecting the fuller context of my whole life. To know why I’m seeking health, you must know the ‘sickness.’ So I’ll be blogging in more detail about ROM processes and results, as well as centering prayer, DoxaSoma, and (yes, even) mental health. Should be fun.

Book reviews & free stuff!

I’ll continue blogging about books I care about, books I’m working with in the Ooze Viral Bloggers platform, and free eBook & audio book downloads I become aware of. In the midst of publishing industry upheaval and information glut, I feel like some very wise, compassionate, and expanding works are being written. I want to do my best to keep you up to date on what I’m seeing here.

The Future

Finally, I want to post more relating to the Future(s) of Everything, related to what I’m seeing in my studies. Expect food futures (no, not pork bellies!) and publishing futures especially.

This will all have the net effect of six-days-a-week blogging, I think. I want to be realistic about what I can do, but I think that thoughtful repurposing of older, supplemental journal material (as I’m exploring some of the ‘personal’ spaces) will carry some of the extra freight. Thank you for reading – I think the best is yet to come!

A People’s History of Christianity

I was privileged to emcee a public conversation between Diana Butler Bass and Brian McLaren at the World Future Society conference last summer on the future of North American Christianity in conjunction with Foresight@Regent. Diana’s in-depth personal, historical, and anthropological knowledge of the Church in her many facets is quite striking  – and, I’m imagining,  what so many local congregations and denominational bodies she consults with find particularly helpful. So imagine my delight when my very own copy of her just-released A People’s History of Christianity arrived in my mailbox! I haven’t read much beyond the introduction yet, but I’ll be taking it on the plane with me to the New Mexico conference tomorrow.

Here’s what others are saying about A People’s History

https://i1.wp.com/images.contentreserve.com/ImageType-100/0293-1/%7BF00518F7-1EC3-4F96-8FF1-E1060BA4EBCE%7DImg100.jpg“It would be difficult to imagine anyone reading this book without finding some new insight or inspiration, some new and unexpected testimony to the astonishing breadth of Christianity through the centuries.”
—Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity

“A perfect armchair companion for contemporary Christians. Charmingly written and refreshing to read, yet rich in details and thorough in its mapping of the major themes and events that have shaped the evolution of the Western Church, A People’s History of Christianity is our story re-told with both clear-eyed affection and a scholar’s acumen.”
—Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence

“In this beautifully written history, Diana Butler Bass reveals the living, beating heart of love at the core of Christian faith.”
—Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread

Carl McColman’s 7 Theses on the Future of Christian Spirituality

I’ve just read the most important spirituality post I’ve encountered thus far in 2009. It’s short, but powerful. It comes from my friend Carl McColman, who’s finishing up his much-anticipated Big Book of Christian Mysticism. Here’s an early peak at one of his concluding chapters, on the future of Christian spirituality (or mysticism) – Carl’s Seven Theses, I’m calling it:

  1. Christian mysticism in the future will be increasingly Trinitarian.
  2. Trinitarian Christian mysticism in the future will be essentially relational.
  3. Christian mysticism in the future will be increasingly earthy.
  4. The future of Christian mysticism will hold apophatic and kataphatic spirituality in creative tension.
  5. Christian mysticism in the future will embrace interreligious wisdom.
  6. Christian mysticism in the future will embrace scientific knowledge and will celebrate its own evolutionary nature.
  7. The future of Christian mysticism will be revealed to us through narrative and story, not just through abstract theology and philosophy.

There’s a lot of biblical and cultural wisdom packed into each of these theses; I’ve been mulling over several of these for some time now, but I love how he develops them. If you want to read how Carl unpacks this – or why you should care about ‘Christian mysticism’ at all – please take a moment and read his full post.

Dear Facebook: Please Lift 5,000 Friend Limit (A Modest Proposal)

https://i1.wp.com/i64.photobucket.com/albums/h189/simplychrislike/LiveRiot/n_1186439527_logo_facebook-rgb-7inc.jpg

Well it happened today: A. Jason Jones added me, and became Facebook friend number 4800. I have 200 friends to go before Facebook caps me out. In case you didn’t know, Facebook has a 5,000 friend limit. Their reasoning is that, unlike Myspace, they want to limit your contacts to actual friends, and curtail commercial abuses and that sort of thing. I get that. And yet, it feels a bit paternalistic that they get to decide who consenting adults add or accept as ‘friends.’ It’s true, I accept & request people on the basis of shared affinity – people interested in comic books, futures studies, house church & emerging church, fellow authors, et cetera, et cetera…not just my high school & college buddies, co-workers, and flesh-and-blood friends. But so what? I enjoy my e-quaintences, and to some degree they must enjoy me too, or else I’d be pruned from their lists by now. Sometimes I meet a Facebook acquaintances who’s in town over coffee, and we become friends of the more flesh-and-blood sort. Sometimes powerful business partnerships result, or new activist initiatives. Or conferences or meetups or…

Continue reading ‘Dear Facebook: Please Lift 5,000 Friend Limit (A Modest Proposal)’

Obama’s Public Works & The New Secretary of Agriculture: Your Voice Matters!

As everyone not living under a rock knows, President-elect Obama has pledged a massive public works program to reinvigorate both US economy and national infrastructure. I am mostly all for this initiative, though my inner childhood libertarian still wonders where all the money will come from. There are some good suggestions out there for funding though, so we’ll save such a ponderances for another blog post.

For now, I’d like to look at the kinds of projects deemed ‘public’ and worthy of such sweeping systemic updating. We all know that roads, bridges, and schools are vitally important. And we’ve heard the administration’s support for the creation of ‘green jobs.’ It’s the latter I’d like to expound upon, suggesting two areas of public works support that ought to receive a lot of attention and funds.

Greenways

When I first traveled to Europe in 2003, I was struck by how many of my new friends, grown adults, did not have drivers licenses. Then I was struck by how many restaurants and businesses were not connected by roads and parking, but rather, massive walking spaces. The atmosphere in these vehicle-free zones was intoxicating; I had never experienced a Commons space without cars and traffic. One of the inadvertent consequences of our first public works program in the U.S. was the creation of the Interstate Highway System, both a blessing and a curse. On the curse side, it further nationalized our food systems (more on that in a sec), and it made business dependent on proximity to highway exits. In the 21st century, we’re now looking at the relative value of this differently, recognizing what Bill McKibben calls a deep economy with ‘multiple bottom-lines.’

Enter the Greenway. When last in Atlanta, Jasmin and I had dinner with Jannan Thomas, director of DOOR Atlanta, and her husband Jay. We learned about something I should’ve known about our once-and-future city, but didn’t: The BeltLine project. The idea is simple: Take 22 miles of old, unused railroad track connecting Atlanta’s oldest cities (some now affluent, some in serious disintegration) and turn this derelict space into greenspace for joggers, walkers, and bikers. Further, develop park space and sustainable business along this space, and maybe, some nice public transportation – something the Southeast has never, ever had. The BeltLine project already has some steam and it looks like they’ll be doing it…over the next 25 years. Now I’m all for the long view; long-term projects used to be the norm and not the exception (Cathedrals used to take centuries to complete!). All the same, I think that a project of this urgent importance shouldn’t have to wait decades to complete when for-profit builders can erect a massive new condominium complex in 8 months.

Whadaya say, Obama administration? Would the BeltLine project (and others like it) merit some of our Public Works apportionment?

Local Food Infrastructure

Department of AgricultureEqually critical as where we can walk is what we eat. For health reasons, of course, but also ecological reasons. Did you know that most of our food is fertilized by petroleum and that, combined with transporting it all over the country (and world), food is the second-largest guzzler of gas behind cars? And accessibility reasons: Why is it that in the poorest sections of towns across America, the only ‘food’ available is truly awful pre-packaged faux food from gas stations and ‘convenience’ stores? Well it’s partially because of how corn and soybeam subsidies were developed during the Nixon administration, laws that are allowing mega-corporations like Monsanto to patent food itself…but I’m getting ahead of myself. : )  If this is a whole new world to you, you’re not alone. While I’ve never really mentioned it in print, for several years now I’ve been working on a book on the intersection of God, meal-sharing, and mystical spirituality. While in the process of finishing this book, I came across – only in this past year – a trio of truly mind-blowing books: The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved by Sandor Katz; The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan; and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. (Two of these are widely available at libraries and all three of them can be purchased quite affordably, under $35 total; get yourself a paradigm-altering Christmas present!) My education was further deepened by attending a Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leaders training this past July in Washington DC and joining Slow Food USA, recommended by my friend (and Foresight@Regent program director) Jay Gary.

What have I been learning? A ton. A distillation: At present, our food system is broken and in need of healing in order to offer healthy, affordable, and ecologically-sustainable nourishment for all people. Further, food done right can build community and help people grow in compassion, ethics, and spirituality.

The aforementioned Pollan penned – just prior the election – An Open Letter to the Next Farmer-in-Chief. An excellent distillation of the needed food renaissance. His opening:

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

I repeat: Pollan’s Open Letter is well-worth reading in its entirety. So go for it. I’ll wait for you.

Back? Okay. There’s some good news: Local food initiatives are springing up like new growth all across North America; famers’ markets are the fastest-growing segement of eating options out there these days. But there are ways government can help, just like they’ve presently favoring Big Agribusiness that’s responsible for a lot of this mess. A shift in sensibilities could reverse the damage, and bring food back home. It’s already happening in Canada: Nova Scotia’s government has just pledged a quite-affordable amount to support development of “local food” systems. In their own words:

The province will provide $2.3 million over three years to fund “strategic infrastructure” and development initiatives that “enhance industry competitiveness, market access and direct marketing methods.”

“This funding will develop the roots between rural and urban food systems, and support marketing initiatives,” Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor said in a release Friday.

The province said its investment “will make it easier and more convenient to buy local foods” and will “complement” its current food marketing programs, Select Nova Scotia and Taste of Nova Scotia.

Fortunately for all of us, there’s a really huge actionable step right on our horizon in the U.S. Here’s an email I recieved today from Slow Food Triangle:

In these final days before President Elect Obama makes his selection for Secretary of Agriculture, we urge you to spread the word to your members about a petition they can sign to express their support for dynamic and sustainable choices for the post.

The petition lists six suggestions, including Gus Schumacher, Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University.

You can find the petition here.

Even if the new administration doesn’t pick one of the listed candidates, signing the petition sends a strong message that we want a good, clean and fair food system and that we expect our new administration to make choices that support that vision. More information is available here and here.

We stand at a crossroads, and our next decisions matter a great deal. There are a few things we can do, right now, to make the world a safer, nourished, more abundant place: it’s going to happen through agribusiness reform.

For my friends on the left, realize this: Agriculture is a key ecological and humanitarian matter. Agriculture done right helps the earth in her innate, life-giving rhythms; it conserves and even produces energy. Intelligent agriculture policy feeds hungry people so no one will have to go without.

Friends on the right, some things to consider: Just as much as Homeland Security, this cabinet-level position will help determine our future strength as a nation and our vulnerability to terrorist attack. Smaller, localized food systems are grassroots capitalism and small business at their best. They create jobs and bring important jobs back to America. They restore the farmer to a place of respect in our society.

For my Christian friends, let’s consider: Jesus lived and died by way of his food habits. (And was resurrected as an eikon of Living Food & Drink) The way he chose to eat, and with whom he chose to eat opened up new vistas of the Kingdom of God on earth. And it was large part of what got him executed by the powers-that-be. I personally feel Jesus’ spirit stirring in this day and age to look at how food and food systems need to be approached in the 21st century. And while I feel churches should never wait for government initiatives to make a difference locally, I think we’re at a golden moment to speak truth to power – power that, it seems, is open to hearing from us.

I’m Asking You to Please Do Three Things:

Call to action time!

  • One, read Michael Pollan’s Open Letter. It’s really, really long – no matter, do it now. Interrupt your regularly-scheduled web surfing and focus for the next few minutes. Your attention span is precious and the information in this letter is vital. It’s that important. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Two, sign this petition.
  • Finally, if you don’t mind, forward this post to others you think would care about these matters – email, Digg, Stumble, Facebook message and re-post on your own blog, that’s fine by me. Thanks for caring!

Does Anyone Have a ROM?

https://i2.wp.com/sswhsle.com/ROM/002_Front.jpgNo, not ROM Spaceknight, you comics aficionado sillies; ROM as in the über-high-end 4-minute workout machine that just screams Range of Motion (hence the acronym). I found out about it one night whilst venturing into the back pages of my Atlantic Monthly, something I rarely do for fear of being pelted by the conclusions of articles that have already taxed my ADD-addled attention span to the limits, arranged between ads for the Belgian Waffle Pro and custom-crafted leather bookbinding. I know, it’s what I get for subscribing to The Atlantic (and Harpers, and Mother Jones, and other magazines that make me what my friend Gareth calls ‘a certified member of the liberal white guilt intelligentsia’).

So anyway. I was flipping through the mag when I came across this ad, headlined in all caps EXERCISE IN EXACTLY 4 MINUTES PER DAY. I used to be a copywriter for a living (I still maintain some clients, but I mostly do my publishing consulting stuff nowadays), so I’m always a tough critic for ads like this. The sheer audacity of what comes next drew me in:

The typical ROM purchaser goes through several stages:

1.     Total disbelief that the ROM can do all this in only 4 minutes.
2.     Rhetorical (and sometimes hostile) questioning and ridicule.
3.     Reading the ROM literature and reluctantly understanding it.
4.     Taking a leap of faith and renting a ROM for 30 days.
5.     Being highly impressed by the results and purchasing a ROM.
6.     Becoming a ROM enthusiast and trying to persuade friends.
7.     Being ignored and ridiculed by the friends who think you’ve lost your mind.
8.     After a year of using the ROM your friends admiring your good shape.
9.     You telling them (again) that you only exercise those 4 minutes per day.
10.     Those friends reluctantly renting the ROM for a 30 day trial.Then the above cycle repeats from point 5 on down.

Take a look at this thing:

ROM machine

It’s, like, totally Zen. And it carries a $14,615.00 price tag. Holy Guacamole, Batman! And yet they have these 15-year warranties, and I’m adding up gym costs plus gas costs in my head, plus (of course) time costs – which are the biggest one for a certified-ADD father/husband/student/small business owner/author. Their ad concludes:

From 4 minutes on the ROM you get the same results as from 20 to 45 minutes aerobic exercise (jogging, running, etc.) for cardio and respiratory benefits, plus 45 minutes weight training for muscle tone and strength, plus 20 minutes stretching exercise for limberness/flexibility.

O. Really?

Well, I’ve poked around the internets, running keyword searches like “ROM scam” and “ROM ripoff” – nada. Instead, I see testimonials from people who really seem to be losing weight, building muscle, feeling better, and having more time on their hands. For someone who’s never been into sports (or athletics of any kind for that matter), I’ve gotta admit: four minutes a day is appealing.

So here’s what I’m thinking.

I just turned 29 last month. Less than one year from 30, I’ve been taking a lot of inventory of my life. In my Foresight@Regent courses, we learn a mode of personal and organizational learning called Systems Thinking – popularized by Peter Senge of The Fifth Discipline fame. The gist is we’re always creating the life we live; we’re always designing it. The problem is, most of us design it by default, unconsciously, and often in self-sabotaging ways. Bringing life-design to a conscious level is a skill set we humans are just developing. (Hence the rationale for Strategic Foresight, btw) This ‘intelligent design’ happens on societal levels of course, but also personal. These past couple of years I’ve been privileged to have some wonderful people in my life – mentors, life coaches, and even (gasp!) therapists and counselors who are helping me work through my ‘shadow’ sides and interact with reality in a more healthy and whole manner. I guess what I’m seeking is integration, a whole life well-lived for myself and others. Isn’t that what we all want? https://i0.wp.com/www.christianitysite.com/IMG_0292%20fence%20flower%20edit%20a.jpg

So: A friend of mine, Drew, was recently reading Integral Life Practice, edited by Ken Wilber and published out of the Integral Institute. The Integral folks are always fascinating, what with their map-making theories of everything and all. It turns out they have a great programme for ‘whole-life cross-training’ involving our physical, mental, and spiritual selves. Taking a cue from ILP (I’m still reading my own copy of the book), I’ve decided: I want to develop a doable life-rhthym, one that incorporates Centering Prayer, maybe some Yoga or DoxaSoma, and – of course – physical training. True, the apostle Paul said (in perfect Elizabethan English) “bodily exercise profiteth little,” but hey: that guy built low-cost dwelling for a living. I’d like to see him sit behind a computer all day and tell me that! (Plus at four minutes a day, I’d like to think even Paul would approve.)

In short, by the time I’m 30 I’d like to:

  • Engage in centering prayer daily – ’cause we can all use more of the conscious fellowship of the Godhead in our lives.
  • Practice Yoga – seeing as I have the grace and flexibility and in-touch-with-my-body-ness of a dried-up turnip
  • Exercise my body – because I need cardiovascular health; I want to keep up with my little girl; I like natural endorphin highs; I like to concentrate on my work; I need to lose 50 pounds this year

…and I want to do all this in about an hour a day. Because I want to delve more deeply into my studies, love my family more, spend more time with my neighbors, and hang out more with my friend Hugh Hollowell and his homeless friends downtown. Stuff I think I could do with some whole-life cross-training.

What If…

What if I could somehow procure a ROM? (I have my ways) Would any of you, dear readers, be interested in charting my progress with me? I’m thinking I’d blog about what it’s like for a time-management-challenged guy like me to engage in some ‘intelligent life design,’ how it feels to make positive, healthy, & consistent changes, and if this ROM thing really does what it says. Since workouts are ostensibly only four minutes long, I’m thinking that once a week I’d actually record my entire workout and put it on YouTube or Vimeo or something. It might not be as funny as Will It Blend?, but I’m thinking a pasty white guy like me working out could provide some of you with catharsis or comic relief.

Please comment if…

  • You have experience with the ROM or some kinda similar exercise equipment
  • You’d get a laugh out of seeing some ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics and workout vids along The Countdown to 30
  • You have stories of your own whole-life rhythms and lifestyle design you’d like to share
  • You want to make fun of me.

Update 12/10: I’m getting a ROM!


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