Archive for the 'Vocation' Category

Multitextured Future: Introduction to Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)

In my MSF program, we review all sorts of different theories of society & societal. These theories have direct implication on our theories and visions of the future. There are many different approaches in the futurist discipline; there are basic/gestalt theories, systems thinking theories, and more semiotic approaches. My favorite approach by far combines the strength of each of the aforementioned theories into a meta-theory/framework model called Causal Layered Analysis, or CLA. Developed by Sohail Inayatullah, CLA looks at the future from four interdependent layers. Quoth Wikipedia:

Causal layered analysis consists of four levels: the litany, social causes, discourse/world-view and myth/metaphor.

  1. The first level is the litany – the official unquestioned view of reality.
  2. The second level is the social causation level, the systemic perspective. The data of the litany is explained and questioned at this level.
  3. The third level is the worldview/discourse. Deeper, unconsciously held ideological, worldview and discursive assumptions are unpacked at this level. The way in which different stakeholders construct the litany and system are also explored.
  4. The fourth level is the myth-metaphor, the unconscious emotive dimensions of the issue. The challenge is to conduct research that moves up and down these layers of analysis and thus is inclusive of different ways of knowing. Doing so allows for the creation of authentic alternative futures and integrated transformation. CLA begins and ends by questioning the future.

Fun stuff, eh? Most American futures studies programs focus exclusively on the Litany and – at most – systemic levels. The schools of foresight developed out of Hawaii, Australia, Europe and Japan focus more on epistemes and intuitive inner/spiritual futures – almost like a wisdom school. (In fact, that’s exactly what Prout College is – and I mean that as a high compliment.) The Regent MSF program – and KedgeForward Consulting – combine the best of Southern Hemisphere-meets-west, empirical and intuitive, into what we hope is an AQAL approach to truly integral futures. Taking all quadrants of human and nonhuman experience into account – inner and external worlds, personal and social. Kedge On!

Ahem. Back to CLA. You can get lost for hours on Dr. Inayatullah’s insightful website Metafuture. In fact, I highly recommend doing so.

Healing People & Honoring Creation: Joel Salatin on Sustainable Agriculture

I was pleased to open up my copy of Sojourners this month and see an interview with one of my heroes, Joel Salain, founder of Polyface Farms.  Some sweet excerpts:

 

Jeannie Choi: What’s the vision behind Polyface farm?

Joel Salatin: Healing—healing in all dimensions. We want to develop emotionally, environmentally, and economically enhancing agricultural prototypes throughout the world. We want to heal the relationships of the people involved with the farm and our business and our family. We want to heal the land, soil, air, water, and, ultimately, the food system.

From what disease is our current food system suffering?

Well, when is the last time a farmer went and asked for money from a banker and the banker said, “Well, that’s all well and good. I’m glad you’re going to be able to grow a corn crop. But what is that going to do to the earthworms? Or to the topsoil? Is that going to go down the Mississippi and add to the Rhode Island-sized dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that’s been created because of erosion and run-off chemicals?”

We don’t measure those kinds of things, and yet each of us intuitively understands that those immeasurable or non-quantifiable parts in a business plan are actually the most precious resources we have.

How can we revolutionize the food industry?

Healing the food system would fundamentally flip-flop the political and economic powers of our culture. Wendell Berry says that what’s wrong with us creates more gross national product than what’s right with us. It’s a fantastic observation. Right now, our culture thrives on things being sick. Dead soil brings more people to chemical companies because they need chemical fertilizers, which makes people sick. When people are sick, obviously the medical establishment thrives. If a neighborhood or community’s food system is sick, then of course you need to import food from a foreign country, which stimulates global trade. So when you start talking about healing the food system, we need a fundamental realignment of all the power and money in our culture, and that’s why there is a tremendous amount of inertia against healing the system.

So what can we do? If you want to dream out of the box for a minute, here’s an idea: If every American for one week refused to eat at a fast-food joint, it would bring concentrated animal feeding operations to their knees. What can one person do? We have a sick, evil system, and a healing system, and the question is, which one are you going to feed? Have you gone down to the farmers market or patronized local livestock farms? Or have you had candy bars and cokes? Whichever one you’ve fed is going to get bigger, and the one you’ve starved is going to get smaller.

How does your faith inform your work?

It makes me want to farm like Jesus would if he were here right now, in charge of this place. God actually loved us and provided a salvation experience for us that shapes the way we should, with the same grace and appreciation and respect, honor the creation that God made. It’s in respecting and honoring the “pig-ness” of the pig that we create our ethical and moral background for respecting and honoring the “Tony-ness” of Tony and the “Mary-ness” of Mary. And so it’s how we respect and honor the “least of these” that creates a theological and philosophical framework for how we respect and honor the creation that God made. It’s in respecting and honoring the “pig-ness” of the pig that we create our ethical and moral background for respecting and honoring the “Tony-ness” of Tony and the “Mary-ness” of Mary. And so it’s how we respect and honor the “least of these” that creates a theological and philosophical framework for how we respect and honor the greatest of these.

Our culture simply views our plants and animals as so many inanimate piles of protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly hubris can imagine to manipulate it. I would suggest that a culture that views its life in that respect will be a culture that views its citizens and the citizens of other cultures in the same manipulative and arrogant way.

For the entire interview article, go here. And for an expanded audio interview with Salatin, go here.

His books are well worth reading (Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal is illuminating and outraging), as are these other articles about Polyface Farms.

Finally, I leave you with a video of Salatin and Chipotle founder Steve Ells, a food activist superstar in his own right.

Morrell Editing Services! In the 2010 Christian Writers’ Market Guide

Straight from the pages of Sally Stuart‘s Christian Writers’ Market Guide comes our 2010 entry. A lot of people know that I conduct word-of-mouth publicity campaigns, but not as many know that my roots are in freelance editing services. Jasmin and I still offer these services – well, these days it’s mostly Jasmin offering these services. (Which is good news for you – Jasmin’s better than me anyway!) We edit in ABA and CBA markets, fiction and non; emerging lit to Pentecostal/charismatic and everything in between. If you’d like an estimate for editing your manuscript, drop Jasmin an email or leave a comment below. We’re here for your text support. 🙂

EDITORIAL SERVICES/MIKE & JASMIN MORRELL,

Raleigh NC. E-mail: jasminis [at] gmail [dot] com. GE/LC/B/NL/SP/WS. Edits: A/SS/F/N/NB/BP/QL/JN/PB/BS/GB/E/D. Has edited for Christian publishers and mainstream curriculum publishers. Developmental editing: $8/pg.; copy editing $6/pg. (‘Page’: Times New Roman, 12 pt font; double-spaced.) Requires 50% of fee upfront. Requested revisions are included in original fee.

Flash Review: Hero for Christ by Christopher Sunami

Hero for ChristAs I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be doing flash reviews of noteworthy book releases I’ve been sent during this past month year, giving you a little taste of what they have to offer.

Hero for Christ contains 30 brief character meditations on people who embodied Jesus in the here and now – and how we can benefit from their example. Includes pieces from a wonderfully global mix, including Sundar Singh, Dorothy Day, and Toyohiko Kagawa. The writing style and illustrations by Michael Krone make this ideal reading for middle school ages on up.

Book site

About Christopher Sunami (also – watch his videos!) Sunami

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!

This Just Seems Wrong…

An email I was sent today:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Affluence.org <support@affluence.org>
Date: Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 7:21 AM
Subject: You have received an invitation to join Affluence.org.

Hello,

You have been invited to by ******* to join Affluence.org. Affluence.org is an exclusive community of affluent people dedicated to making life better for both themselves and others.

As a member of Affluence.org you will have the ability to find and interact with other affluent people from around the world, evaluate and contribute to your favorite charities, and gain access to exclusive lifestyle guides to luxury living, travel and the latest trends. Within this elite community you will be provided with access to a dedicated Affluence Concierge, receive priority access to the world’s most exclusive premieres, nightclubs, parties, hotels, events and much more.

To accept the invitation to our exclusive network, please follow the link below.

http://www.affluence.org


Best Regards,
Affluence.org
support@affluence.org

—————————————-
This message was sent by Affluence Corporation, 334 East Lake Road Suite 258 Palm Harbor, FL 34685. Please email support@affluence.org to be removed from future mailings.

I see that they mean well (on some level), but it unsettles me in the same way as that Secret Millionaire reality show coming from the UK to the US via Fox. You tell me: Can we move beyond the mental models of patronage and recipients, charity and charitized?

Of course, maybe I’m bristling at the concept since I’m plainly not in the intended Affluence.org social networking demagraphic. : )

Nonetheless, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you have more than you think. Hopefully we’ll continue to find ways to put our heads and hearts together to make something of our collective situation.

Make Affluence History

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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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

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