How to Make a Writer Feel Good (a reader writes)

A reader writes:
Thank you for your book, "The Secret Message of Jesus."  My roommate, a retired Unity minister was sorting through her myriad of books when I happened to "see" this book.  Thankfully, she's a generous soul and loaned it to me.  :-)  I immediately began reading and made it through page 42.  Laid it down.  It laid there for weeks, until finally, this morning, out of desperation, I picked it up again.  You see, I've been in the middle of a "dry" period of morning wake-up reading, a time I like to think is for spiritual "stuff."  At 65 years, I've read so much, been inspired, grown, etc., etc., etc. (just like everyone else!), and I've run out of things to read.  Yes, it's difficult to imagine, with all the lovely material "out there."  In the past few years, I've actually begun to discover and trust my internal "guidance," believing that I DO have Divine communication....just like everyone else.  :-)   And I've become a bit tired and cynical....and realize that each of us really does find their own way....even with help from others and their works.
This morning.  This morning was different.  Oh, I decided to pick up your book again.  It's the only one sitting and staring at me in my morning place.  As I began reading, I began to think of all the people who would benefit from this book.  From truly understanding Jesus' teachings.  You know....that friend, that sibling, that person-on-the-street.  Somehow, I quickly turned it all around and back to ME.  I (ME!) could be more patient with these people (who SO badly need these learnings :-)) ).  I (ME!) could be more tolerant...understanding....LOVING! that got me started.  I fell in love with your writing!  Down to earth, friendly, over-coffee friend.  You sucked me in by the middle of page 44 (page 43 was a short page :-) ).  And I was enraptured.  MAN!  I grew up in the Catholic church, have wandered away into so many other teachings, and found my way back to Christianity, just because I love it.  All the other beliefs give me ideas, new understandings, new ways of seeing, and are companions in my life.  I'm rambling now....  By the end of Chapter 6, I am looking forward to my morning reading.  AND I believe that the Bible will become part of that time, too.  Now, I'm really curious.  Now I'm excited.
THANK YOU!!!!!  That's what I really wanted to say.  THANK YOU!!!!  I can't wait to read more!
Thanks for your encouraging words! I spent a lot of hours in a corner of my basement writing that book ... hoping that I would someday hear from people like you. God bless!

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your WOKE UP call …

From my friend & colleague JKwest:

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Los Angeles CA, October 13-14 –

Two friends told me today they're thinking about giving up. They feel that the world is falling apart, and they're losing hope.
I know how they feel. But I don't think the world is falling apart. I think the stories we've been telling ourselves about the world are falling apart. And the failure of a story we have lived by is a terrible, depressing, terrifying thing.
The good news is that the failure of our existing stories can pave the way for the discovery and embrace of a better story. That's what we'll be exploring together in Los Angeles this fall. I hope you can be there.
Human beings are storytellers, and the stories we tell shape our lives for the better or worse. As my Irish friend Gareth Higgins puts it, "Stories can be shelters that heal, or prisons that destroy." I'm really excited to announce that Gareth and I have been collaborating on a new project that aims to transcend the kinds of stories that hurt us, and to find ways into a different kind of story. We're hosting an event in the Los Angeles area this October, aimed at not just telling, but experiencing what we call The Seventh Story.
I'd love to see you there - we'll be forming a temporary community energized for the task of living well and serving the common good in an age of anxiety and separation. It will be challenging and fun, the company will be great, and there will even be a few surprises. It is our sincere intent to host an event that will help make all of our lives better.
Here's how we're handling the registration for the event - it costs $179, but we're offering it for a $49 deposit, and then inviting a further pledge at the event itself - based purely on the resources you have available, and the benefit you feel you have received. In other words, you can pay whatever you like, from the heart. $49 deposit secures your place. All we ask is that you register soon if you're interested - it will help us with planning. More details are at this link.

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3 Important Books, with a little Cheese

Three books I've read this summer have something in common.

They begin by listening.

Linda Mercadente's 2014 Belief Without Borders listens to SBNR's - Spiritual But Not Religious people. It's beautifully written and worthwhile for every person in church ministry.

Rob Lee's Stained Glass Millennials listens to ... you guessed it. Rob weaves his voice with other Millennial Christian leaders and liberates you from the normal drone of Boomers like me talking about "those Millennials." The book doesn't sugar coat the bad news, but it doesn't soft-pedal the hope either.

Jan Hendrick Prenger's Muslim Insider Christ Followers challenges Christians to hear the voices of Muslims who follow Jesus but don't want to be called Christians. (In light of the high number of identified Christians who seem only remotely interested in following Jesus, that's understandable.)

In a recent article (also well worth your time) called "Cheesy and the Church," Linda Mercadente tells it true (emphasis mine):

... remember that engagement, no matter how well-intentioned, won’t be effective until we understand this emerging context. There are some preliminary steps we need to take on this journey: We must do some close observation, including serious consideration of popular culture. We need to practice compassionate listening to the concerns and goals of SBNRs. And, most important, we need the willingness to engage the very real theological issues SBNRs express. In doing these things, we will position ourselves to appreciate the opportunities and needs in the emerging meta-modernist ethos.

"Compassionate listening" is as close as our ears and hearts, if we will just dedicate them to that purpose. These three books (and Linda's excellent article) will help you do so. Highly recommended.

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What I Shared at Wild Goose, Part 5: What I’m Learning about Communication

I had the opportunity to share briefly with the Lead Now flock at Wild Goose Festival. I talked (among other things) about what the 2016 election and its aftermath are teaching me about communication and leadership.

In a word: I don't know enough about communication.

I talked about 5 psychological realities that I wish I had known about 40 years ago. Here they are, along with a 6th I didn't mention. (These phenomena have a lot of actual data to back them up. You can google the italicized term for more info.)

  1. Confirmation Bias: People tend to accept only what confirms what they already know.
  2. Complexity Bias: People prefer a simple lie over a complex truth.
  3. Community Bias: It is very hard for people to accept an idea, no matter how true, that will make them risk rejection from a community they depend on. (Sorry, I don't have a reference on this at the moment.)
  4. Competency Bias: Incompetent people don't know they're incompetent. That makes it hard to teach them anything! (See Dunning-Kruger Effect.)
  5. Consciousness Bias: People at a certain level of consciousness (think Integral theory, Piaget, Fowler, Kohlberg, Perry, Blake, Kierkegaard, etc.) can't imagine how the world looks like for others at more advanced levels of consciousness, so they assume others see the same things in the same way.
  6. Complacency Bias: People resist compassion for predictable reasons. See this article on psychic numbing for more on this one.

My point to the Lead Now folks was that if we want to lead, we're going to have to take the change-resistant brains of potential followers (and opponents) more seriously - along with our own brains!

BTW - it's fascinating to read the gospels with these biases in mind, and see Jesus the master teacher confronting and sabotaging them. For more on Jesus as master teacher, see my book The Secret Message of Jesus.  For more on developing your own leadership gifts, see Convergence Leadership Project.

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