loren Eric Swanson: December 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Different Christmas Poem

This poem was passed on to me and it reminded me a lot of Jeff who is spending Christmas in Baghdad

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag."I
can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?"
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

I finished Lateral Thinking while I was in Las Vegas. It is very helpful in describing the type of process Leadership Network employs in facilitating leadership communities—where the goal is not just doing better / more of what we have done in the past but rather doing more with less and exponential and not mere incremental growth. The following are a few useful quotes from the book.

Culture is concerned with establishing ideas. Education is concerned with communicating those established ideas. Both are concerned with improving ideas by bringing them up to date. The only available method for changing ideas is conflict…. p.9

Lateral thinking is concerned with the generation of new ideas. There is a curious notion that new ideas have to do with technical invention. This is a very minor aspect of the matter. New ideas are the stuff of change and progress in every field from science to art, from politics to personal happiness. P.11

Lateral thinking is quite distinct from vertical thinking which is the traditional type of thinking. In vertical thinking one moves forward by sequential steps each of which must be justified. The distinction between the two sorts of thinking is sharp. For instance in lateral thinking one uses information not for its own sake but for its effect. In lateral thinking one may have to be wrong at some stage in order to achieve a correct solution; in vertical thinking (logic or mathematics) this would be impossible. In lateral thinking one may deliberately seek out irrelevant information; in vertical thinking one selects out only what is relevant. Lateral thinking is not a substitute for vertical thinking. Both are required. They are complementary. Lateral thinking is generative. Vertical thinking is selective. P.12

With vertical thinking one may reach a conclusion by a valid series of steps. Because of the soundness of the steps one is arrogantly certain of the correctness of the conclusion. But no matter how correct the path may be the starting point was a matter of perceptual choice which fashioned the basic concepts used…. Lateral thinking would …temper the arrogance of any rigid conclusion no matter how soundly it appeared to have been worked out. P.12

Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking. Vertical thinking develops the ideas generated by lateral thinking. You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper. Vertical thinking is used to dig the same hole deeper. Lateral thinking is used to dig a hole in a different place. P.12

The difference between lateral and vertical thinking.
Rightness is what matters in vertical thinking. Richness is what matters in lateral thinking. Vertical thinking selects a pathway by excluding other pathways. Lateral thinking does not select but seeks to open op other pathways. With vertical thinking one selects the most promising approach to a problem, the best way of looking at a situation. With lateral thinking one generates as many alternative approaches as one can. With vertical thinking one may look for different approaches until one finds a promising one. With lateral thinking one goes on generating as many approaches as one can even after one has found a promising one. With vertical thinking one is trying to select the best approach but with lateral thinking one is generating different approaches for the sake of generating them. P.39
Vertical thinking moves only if there is a direction in which to move, lateral thinking moves in order to generate a direction.

With vertical thinking one designs an experiment to show some effect. With lateral thinking one designs an experiment in order to provide an opportunity to change one’s ideas. With vertical thinking one must always be moving usefully in some direction. With lateral thinking one may play around without any purpose or direction.. One may play around with experiments, with models, with notation, with ideas. P.40

Vertical thinking is analytical, lateral thinking is provocative. One may consider three different attitudes to the remark of a student who had come to the conclusion: ‘Ulysses was a hypocrite.’
1. You are wrong
2. How very interesting, tell me how you reached that conclusion.
3. Very well. What happens next? How are you going to go forward from this idea?
In order to be able to use the provocative qualities of lateral thinking one must also be able to follow up with the selective qualities of vertical thinking. P.40

Vertical thinking is sequential, lateral thinking can make jumps. With vertical thinking one moves forward one step at a time…With lateral thinking the steps do not have to be sequential. One may jump ahead to a new point and then fill in the gap afterwards. P.41

With vertical thinking one has to be correct at every step, with lateral thinking one does not have to be. The very essence of vertical thinking is that one must be right at each step. This is absolutely fundamental to the nature of vertical thinking. Logical thinking and mathematics would not function at all without this necessity. In lateral thinking however one does not have to be right at each step provided the conclusion is right. It is like building a bridge. The parts do not have to be self-supporting at every stage but when the last part is fitted into place the bridge suddenly becomes self-supporting. P.42

Lateral thinking breaks down old patterns in order to liberate information. Lateral thinking stimulates new patter formation by juxtaposing unlikely information. P.55

Problem solving
A problem is simply the difference between what one has and what one wants….There are three types of problems:
The first typ of problem requires for its solution more information or better techniques for handling information
The second type of problem requires no new information but a rearrangement of information already available: an insight restructuring.
The third typ of problem is the problem of no problem. One is blocked by the adequacy of the present arrangement from moving to a much better one. P. 58

The prupose of thinking is not to be right but to be effective. Being effective does eventually involve being right but there is a very important difference between the two. Being right means being right all the time. Being effective means being right only at the end. P. 107

With lateral thinking one is allowed to be wrong on the way even though one must be right in the end…One may have to move to an untenable position in order to be able to find a tenable position. P.107

As a process lateral thinking is concerned with change not with proof. P. 107

Judgment is suspended during the generative stage of thinking in order to be applied during the selective stage. P.108

In lateral thinking one is not looking for the right answer but for a different arrangement of information which will provoke a different way of looking at the situation.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Cal Gets Lucky--Beats BYU 35-28

The Vegas Bowl was "pretty good." Don Wilcox and I showed up at the pre-game festivities around 2:30. The game started at 5 and Cal marched down the field and scored and eventually had a three touchdown lead. Marshawn Lynch had nearly 200 yards in rushing. But BYU made a valiant effort and came within a touchdown and was driving with a minute and a half left before Cal hijacked a pass to end the game. Sam Boyd stadium sold out for the first time with 40K in attendance.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Swedish Christmas (white food) Dinner

Last night we had the annual Swedish Christmas dinner with the Olsons, the Hausers, Geoff Gorsuch back from Singapore. Time does not allow me to write the details and post pictures since I'm off to the Vegas Bowl (Cal v. BYU) but will update later. For now I'll just post a picture of my son-in-law to be, Erik Olson making potato sausage together.

OK, I had the chance to download a few more pics of the swedish dinner. The dominant characteristic of the food is that it is white or a shade of white (see attached photos)

History of "A Christmas Carol"

My long-time college friend Bill Petro always provides interesting stories or histories around holidays. I thought this "history" was very interesting. --

This week in 1843 saw the publication of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." No other book or story by Dickens or anyone else (save the Bible) has been more enjoyed, criticized, referred to, or more frequently adapted to other media. None of his other works is more widely recognized or, indeed, celebrated within the English-speaking world. Some scholars have even claimed that in publishing A Christmas Carol Dickens single-handedly invented the modern form of the Christmas holiday in England and the United States.

Indeed, the great British thinker G.K. Chesterton noted long ago, with A Christmas Carol Dickens succeeded in transforming Christmas from a sacred festival into a family feast. In so doing, he brought the holiday inside the home and thus made it accessible to ordinary people, who were now able to participate directly in the celebration rather than merely witnessing its performance in church.

Many of our American conceptions of what a "traditional" Christmas is, comes from this time in Victorian history. Indeed, Queen Victoria of England had just married a few years earlier, and her German husband, Prince Albert brought some of his native customs to England (including the Christmas tree), beginning some of the traditions of Victorian Christmas.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the Cromwellian Revolt abolished Christmas as well as the monarchy. However well the monarchy was subsequently "restored," the traditions of the winter holiday never recovered. But religious prescription was not the only cause of the decline of Christmas. Even by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the industrial revolution, especially in the north, was changing the communities that still tenuously kept the customs of their ancestors.

By the time the Carol was written in 1843, the lavish celebrations of the past were a distant, quaint memory. Some still remembered them, and even before the Carol a few popular books attempted to record the celebrations of the past, such as The Book of Christmas by T.H. Hervey (1837) and The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall by Washington Irving (1820). But social forces beyond simple nostalgia were at work, rekindling the need for winter celebrations.

Dickens was one of the first to show his readers a new way of celebrating the old holiday in their modern lives. His Christmas celebrations of the Carol adapted the twelve-day manorial (Yule) feast to a one-day party any family could hold in their own urban home. Instead of gathering together an entire village, Dickens showed his readers the celebration of Fred, Scrooge's nephew, with his immediate family and close friends, and also the Cratchits' "nuclear family": perfectly happy alone, without the presence of friends or wider family. He showed the urban, industrial English that they could still celebrate Christmas, even though the old manorial twelve-day celebrations were out of their reach. Dickens's version of the holiday evoked the childhood memories of people who had moved to the cities as adults.

The Cratchit family, although quaint and sentimental to modern readers, was a familiar portrait of the lower-middle class families who originally read the Carol, familiar in fact to Dickens himself, who modeled the Cratchits' lifestyle on his own childhood experience of when he himself lived in Camden Town. (Dickens' own father was in and out of Debtors' Prison.) Dickens demonstrates that even in poverty, the winter holiday can inspire good will and generosity toward one's neighbors. He shows that the spirit of Christmas was not lost in the race to industrialize, but can live on in our modern world.

The publishing of his book was immensely popular, though in a time ofgreat religious controversy, and its lack of babes, wise men, stars,mangers, and other icons of the Christian nativity inspired a multitudeof sermons and pamphlets at that time. Although A Christmas Carol is generally associated with the Christian winter holiday season, for it does contain references to the Christian Jesus; its themes are not exclusive to Christianity and it inspired a tradition for decades in Christmas books and celebrations that appealed to many non-Christians.

His preface to the book reads:

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D., December, 1843.

But the punch line to the book, is the very last sentence, which rarely fails to bring a tear to this historian:

It was always said of Scrooge, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed,
God Bless Us, Every One!

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Answers to Jim Collin's Question

The following is an excerpt from Bob Buford's Active Energy museletter. Earlier this month Bob talked about having dinner with Jim Collins. During the course of the evening Collins posed the question regarding how a ragtag group of followers became the predominant force in the world in 300 years. Bob asked his readers to respond. Bob says he got several great responses and will include a few this week and a few more in weeks to come.

From Bob Shank, Founder/CEO, The Master's Program, Newport Beach, California.
"Here's my answer: Jesus left without laying out a strictly articulated game plan for the next steps. He gave a sweeping vision - "all the world"; "every creature" - and a loose, but sufficient strategy - "go; baptize; teach" - and then allowed them to integrate their individual creativity into the mission. What I would quantify as "calling" became their individual marching orders. "Take up your cross daily and follow me" was an appeal to their personal, one-of-a-kind emphases. For Jesus, the cross wasn't a burden; it was his unique calling. "I brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." The cross was his code for calling: His followers, who were to be leaders, were to find their own unique paths - their "cross" - and consider it their core mission, every day. Get the 10 percent who are leaders (that's the segment from Jethro's count in Exodus 22 to the upper room contingent in Acts 1) clear about their unique Kingdom assignments, and they'll create opportunity for defined followership for the other 90 percent. He didn't disburse them by mandate; he dispatched them by release. "Go" was an invitation, not an order."

From Glenn Hatcher, Global Leadership Development, Cyprus.
"Christianity spread so fast in the pre-Constantine world because:
People were invited to join God's story and actively participate in something the God of Creation was doing on the earth. it was not just another institutionalized, legalistic religion or god for the pantheon. Christianity was truly relational, offering both a living relationship with a living God and with a true community of diverse, yet like-minded people. Ideas, concepts, and life-style were passed on through mentoring relationships (discipleship) that taught Believers how to live in a mystical relationship with the risen Jesus and how to live a redemptive lifestyle in everyday circumstances by being led by the Spirit. There was more emphasis on experiential Christianity than on knowledge and propositional truth. (Historically, we often emphasize the cults and schisms and heresies that arose during this time, but fail to realize that the Church continued to grow cross-culturally and have a huge impact during this same period). The focus was on family (clan, tribe, people-group) transformation as well as that of the individual. There was a "partnership" between God and His Church so that the miraculous occurred with regularity. There was a passionate depth of commitment among Believers both to God and to the community. martyrdom and suffering were not feared, but accepted, embraced, anticipated, and even encouraged. There existed certain commonalities - language, government, social standings, etc. - throughout the Empire. The early Believers were part of a non-status quo minority who owed a greater allegiance to their Redeemer than to the Empire and its social systems. There was a "missionary mindset" that wanted to take the Good News to the ends of the earth both because it is good news and because Jesus' command to make disciples of all ethnic groups had opened the door for all."

From Pat Woehrer, The Legacy Group, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"What happened in the period between Jesus Christ and Constantine, as I see it:
Discipleship through twelve highly trained and inspired individuals, each identified with their own unique giftedness.
Commitment to something greater than ink on paper (or scrolls, if you will).
Commitment to Someone greater than man, but for the benefit of man.
Persecution, which only advanced curiosity and interest.
Political transition and unrest, which caused individuals to seek peace.
Personal relationships required for communication and sharing of knowledge (no technology to lean on), adding dimension to the Truth. Finally, let us not ignore the work of the Holy Spirit, which, despite all efforts to analyze, is mysterious!"

From Cobus Oosthuizen, Johannesburg, South Africa.
"I am myself also a very curious and inquisitive person and have a passion for intellectual enquiry. However, I believe that in the process of God executing His mission, i.e. His total redemptive purpose to reconcile a lost world with Himself, He does so on His terms as expressed in Isaiah 55:8: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord." Therefore, on the questions, "What were the social mechanisms and organizational tools that allowed this statistically remote outcome to happen; and, what took place in the 300 years between Christ and Constantine?" - I'd like to comment, as follows: Ordinary people, from ordinary backgrounds, in ordinary circumstances, in the context of a certain time in eternity, acting in radical obedience by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, orchestrated by Almighty God not limited by science, time, space, or comprehension of man. May our heavenly FATHER, who specializes in statistically remote outcomes to happen, bless and keep you."

From Mark Eaton, Consultant.
"As I have mulled over your questions about how did Christianity grow so fast in 300 years, I get to the conclusion: It's about small groups, with low power and low prestige working diligently away from the spotlights. If you want to see how God and the Holy Spirit work, then compare and contrast John the Baptist and Jesus with the high priest, the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Sadducees, Pontius Pilate, and Herod."

From Denis Beausejour, Former Director of World Wide Marketing for P&G, now a pastor in Cincinnati.
"My answer to what happened to cause Christianity to grow the way it did . it was supernatural. Despite persecution (or aided by it!), despite heresies by leaders, despite the failures of early church leadership, and despite the challenges of the Gnostic gospels (the DaVinci Code of the day) and the rise of Islam, the Holy Spirit kept touching lives and working supernaturally to produce just what was needed to get the job done. The one thing that we seem to be missing is that we don't seem to give credit where it is due - the power of Christ and His Spirit. I am haunted by what J.B. Phillips says in the intro to his translation: "The greatest difference between present-day Christianity, and that of which we read in these letters (of the New Testament), is that to us, it is primarily a performance; to them, it was real experience. Perhaps if we believed what they believed, we could achieve what they achieved." As a modern day campaign slogan, it might read "It's Jesus and His Spirit, stupid!" (apologies)"

From Bill Farrell, Insurance Agent, Dallas, Texas.
"Very thought-provoking article. I read Good to Great a year ago and was so tremendously impressed by the fact that the men who turned the companies to greatness were not self-serving, but self-emptying - that is, they were more like Jesus. They themselves, were contributors, not seeking their own reward and they found the key. My take on the reason that our faith had such an impactful beginning in those first 300 years was that they actually did what they came to believe. To delight in God's glory was their life! They were out there on the front lines, living lives that were radical and noticed by everyone with whom they came in contact. That kind of belief spreads like wildfire. Bob, I think the church is sick. Our "country club" atmosphere has made us so comfortable and the press of the business world and our own families and our friends all distract us from the absolute necessity of taking the glory of Christ to the world we live in. People are too busy, caught up in their own pursuits, frantically living lives pointing to "me, me, me." The church of the first 300 years was very evidently not this way. They believed that they were to take up their cross daily and follow Him as their number one priority. They placed their own self-interest down the line and placed Him first. When that occurs today, we will see the Lord glorified again as He was in the first 300 years."

From Jay Bennett, Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"As a curious chap, Jim Collins wonders how the dots got connected. What, he asks, were the social mechanisms and organizational tools which led to this statistically improbable outcome? The question suggests there must have been social mechanisms and organizational tools employed to reach this outcome. The hypothetical also allows the inference that a national religion reflects the precepts of its founder. I find neither to be the case. Constantine had a Halftime experience. The authority of Heaven connected to authority in the earth in the form of this emperor, this king. The King of Kings and the king met. I see no progression of inevitable persuasion leading toward this throne. I see a man in great authority who had an awakening. The Kingdom of God can not be compelled. Constantine and every other well intentioned spiritual dictatorship I am aware of tried to muscle religion into society. It has never worked."

From Jack Willome, Homebuilder, San Antonio, Texas.
"Regarding Jim's observation and question about "connecting the dots". One of Jesus' statements about himself is "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Was he a madman or simply stating fact? The behavior of Constantine and the countless others who came later bear witness to the latter. Referring to Jesus in Colossians, Paul (formerly one of the most famous persecutors of the carpenter from Nazareth's followers) says "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him." He simply connects all the dots. 300 years? How about billions of light years from one edge of the universe to the other?"

Quality of Life in Boulder County 2005

Every two years the Boulder County Civic Forum (BCCF) publishes a report that "highlights key trends that help measure progress toward--or away from--a vision of healthy Boulder County communities." The BCCF tracks fifty indicators of community health and sustainability in four areas: people, economy, environment and culture / civil society. The full report can be seen at www.bococivicforum.org. The following is a summary of a few key findings:

Demographic Trends

  • 2004 Population 288,380
  • 5% increase since 2000
  • 21% of the population moved last year
  • Average length of home occupancy is under four years
  • 10% of population was born outside US
  • 38% of foreign-born arrived since 2000

  • Median age 35 years (up from 31 in 1990)
  • Age group 45-64 increased 20% since 2000
  • 41% of families include children and 35% of children are Latino


  • Latinos make up 13% of Boulder County population, up from 7% in 1990
  • Language other than English spoken in 14% of homes

Five Trends

1. Declining Middle Class

Income in 2004

  • Boulder County is the 5th wealthiest in Colorado with 140% US median income
  • The median household income is $58684 down 5% from 2002
  • A family of one adult and two pre-school children needs $52,919 to live in Boulder County
  • A full time job at minimum wage, with tax credits earns $14,000
  • 26% or households earn above $100,000
  • 11% of Boulder County households are single parent households
  • 43% of family households headed by single women live below the poverty line

2. Housing Affordability

  • Since 2000, single family home prices increased 40% in Superior and Boulder, 10% in Longmont, and less than 10% in Louisvill and Lafayette
  • The median price for a single family home is $500,000 in Boulder and $235,000 in Longmont
  • To purchase the median priced $500,000 home in Boulder requires an income of around $102
  • Rental housing: Highest rents in Superior and Louisville ($1,100) and lowest in Boulder ($724)

3. Traffic and Commuting

  • Traffic has increased at twice the rate of population growth since 2001, mostly due to longer commutes.
  • 40% of elementary students attend schools outside their neighborhoods.
  • 49,100 people employed in Boulder County (30% of workers) commute in from another county
  • 30,500 residents commute out of Boulder County
  • Average commute time is 22 minutes with over 14,000 residents commuting more than 45 minutes each way to work
  • 73% of county residents drive alone to work, 5% use RTD, 5% bicicle and 7% work at home

4. Access to Health Care

  • 90% of Boulder County residents have health care through private insureance or government programs
  • Employer health premiums increased 14% annually since 2000--five times the rate of wage increases and four times the rate of inflation
  • The average premium for employer-based coverage is $11,400 with the aveage employee share $250 per month

5. Youth Risks and Behaviors

  • Boulder County is home to 15,000 young people between 14-18 years old
  • One in six Boulder County teens (3,300) attempted suicide in the last year, with the highest incidence among ninth grade girls. Boulder County youth's suicide attempts were higher than Colorado (13%) and the US (8%)
  • High School graduation rates for Boulder County youth are higher than Colorado's, with 89% of students who started ninth grade four ears earlier graduating in 2003. 62% of Latinos in Boulder County graduate

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chimps (with training) Better at Forecasting

The following is a few selected exerpts sent to me (and others) by Bob Buford
EVERYBODY’S AN EXPERT: Putting predictions to the test.
The New Yorker, December 2005

It is the somewhat gratifying lesson of Philip Tetlock’s new book, “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (Princeton; $35), that people who make prediction their business—people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables—are no better than the rest of us. When they’re wrong, they’re rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons.

“Expert Political Judgment” is not a work of media criticism. Tetlock is a psychologist—he teaches at Berkeley—and his conclusions are based on a long-term study that he began twenty years ago. He picked two hundred and eighty-four people who made their living “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends,” and he started asking them to assess the probability that various things would or would not come to pass, both in the areas of the world in which they specialized and in areas about which they were not expert. Would there be a nonviolent end to apartheid in South Africa? Would Gorbachev be ousted in a coup? Would the United States go to war in the Persian Gulf? Would Canada disintegrate? (Many experts believed that it would, on the ground that Quebec would succeed in seceding.) And so on. By the end of the study, in 2003, the experts had made 82,361 forecasts. Tetlock also asked questions designed to determine how they reached their judgments, how they reacted when their predictions proved to be wrong, how they evaluated new information that did not support their views, and how they assessed the probability that rival theories and predictions were accurate.
Tetlock got a statistical handle on his task by putting most of the forecasting questions into a “three possible futures” form. The respondents were asked to rate the probability of three alternative outcomes: the persistence of the status quo, more of something (political freedom, economic growth), or less of something (repression, recession). And he measured his experts on two dimensions: how good they were at guessing probabilities (did all the things they said had an x per cent chance of happening happen x per cent of the time?), and how accurate they were at predicting specific outcomes. The results were unimpressive. On the first scale, the experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned an equal probability to all three outcomes—if they had given each possible future a thirty-three-per-cent chance of occurring. Human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world, in other words, are poorer forecasters than dart-throwing monkeys, who would have distributed their picks evenly over the three choices.

The experts’ trouble in Tetlock’s study is exactly the trouble that all human beings have: we fall in love with our hunches, and we really, really hate to be wrong. Tetlock describes an experiment that he witnessed thirty years ago in a Yale classroom. A rat was put in a T-shaped maze. Food was placed in either the right or the left transept of the T in a random sequence such that, over the long run, the food was on the left sixty per cent of the time and on the right forty per cent. Neither the students nor (needless to say) the rat was told these frequencies. The students were asked to predict on which side of the T the food would appear each time. The rat eventually figured out that the food was on the left side more often than the right, and it therefore nearly always went to the left, scoring roughly sixty per cent—D, but a passing grade. The students looked for patterns of left-right placement, and ended up scoring only fifty-two per cent, an F. The rat, having no reputation to begin with, was not embarrassed about being wrong two out of every five tries. But Yale students, who do have reputations, searched for a hidden order in the sequence. They couldn’t deal with forty-per-cent error, so they ended up with almost fifty-per-cent error.

But the best lesson of Tetlock’s book may be the one that he seems most reluctant to draw: Think for yourself.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Huge Turnout in Iraqi Elections

The elections in Iraq are all over but the counting. There will be winners and losers but in a democracy, where people have a chance to select those who will lead them, the entire country wins. An estimated 11 million (70% of voters) cast votes for their future--something they have never done before. Over the summer I read a few books on our own nation's beginning--1776 by David McCullough, Washington's Crossing, John Adams, and A Great Improvisation--on Benjamin Franklin. Surprise #1 was that such a small group of people, guided by a compelling vision of what could be, would put everything on the line, pledging everything they had on the chance to create a type of country and government that had never existed before. Surprise #2 was how little their effort was supported, or should I say, how fickle was the support of the American population, as a whole for the effort. "Loyalist" supported Britian nearly to the end of the war. Our Declaration of Independence was in 1776 but the war went on for seven years until peace was secured in 1783. The surprise for the French and the English was that after the war was over, Washington did not crown himself king! The values and ideals of a constitutional democracy were bigger than the heroics of any one person. In our own birthpangs of nationhood, there was turmoil, insurgency, betrayal and fighting. Democracy is new for Iraq, so let's give them a little time. As Franklin said, "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value." Understanding the dearness of freedom and democracy is why we esteem them so highly.

I'm glad the elections went well because our own son is in Baghdad and we have but one prayer...for his safe return, which is scheduled for early March. We want to him to be with his wife, Ashlie and young son, Gentry. We want him home. And the sooner Iraqis can self-govern, the sooner America's presence will not be needed. Patience and prayer are the operative words. So pray for Jeff and the future of Iraq today.

Got this note later today from Ashlie: "I have only talked to Jeff for a brief conversation since the elections. Iknow he was by the polling stations but I don't know if that was him on TV or not [Elyse Lamb Carlucci swore she saw him on the news]. He has been really busy with the elections and they have been working insane hours. Pray for him because things are really hard right now. This holiday season has really been hard for both of us and we really need strength to edure. Talk to you soon and we are excited to see you."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Church Salary Survey

For the past 20 years Leadership Network has taken a salary survey of roughly 100 churches in their network. These churches would tend to be seen as those with influence and innovation that are leaders in the church world. This info may be helpful in negotiating your next raise or you may want to keep this hidden if you are being paid too much! The complete salary survey is also available under Special Reports on the Leadership Network Website:

Church Size
The smallest church in the survey had an average weekend worship attendance of 800.
The largest church in the survey had an average weekend worship attendance of 8000.
The average (mean) church attendance was 2942.
The median (midpoint of data set) was 2252.

Annual General Budget Income

The number reported is the actual income for the last fiscal year:
The lowest to income reported was $1,800,000.
The highest income reported was $17,588,121.
The median income was $3,875,000.
The average income was $5,210,427.

Salary Levels
The survey asked for cash salary plus housing allowances for various roles. It does not include other benefits that are often a sizeable part of a minister’s compensation package. In addition, many churches have “Directors” which are not labeled “ministers” but serve in an equivalent role. Where there was role equivalency, these numbers were included in the survey.

Senior Pastor
• Average $130,004
• Median $126,900
Low $ 84,000
High $192,400

Executive Pastor
• Average $97,803
• Median $96,000
Low $61,437
High $167,300

Associate Pastor
• Average $ 80,441
• Median $ 78,850
Low $ 52,200
High $ 125,000

Worship Pastor
• Average $ 72,454
• Median $ 73,000
Low $ 36,000
High $ 115,900

Teaching Pastor
• Average $ 70,690
• Median $ 62,150
Low $ 47,000
High $ 126,200

Operations Director
• Average $ 71,607
• Median $ 75,000
Low $ 47,400
High $ 100,000

Business Administrator
• Average $70,690
• Median $70,200
Low $41,640
High $121,000

Equipping Pastor
• Average $ 70,300
• Median $ 74,000
Low $ 40,000
High $ 92,500

Director of Programming
• Average $ 69,653
• Median $ 56,650
Low $ 38,720
High $ 115,000

Family Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 69,180
• Median $ 71,475
Low $ 53,098
High $ 90,000

Small Groups Pastor
• Average $ 68,564
• Median $ 63,655
Low $ 43,700
High $ 150,000

Missions Pastor
• Average $ 67,370
• Median $ 66,000
Low $ 25,000
High $ 130,000

Pastoral Care Pastor
• Average $ 64,514
• Median $ 65,000
Low $ 36,000
High $ 90,000

Men’s Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 62,657
• Median $ 56,300
Low $ 50,000
High $ 78,000

Outreach Pastor
• Average $ 60,300
• Median $ 60,000
Low $ 30,000
High $ 100,800

Student Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 55,961
• Median $ 52,929
Low $ 40,000
High $ 74,000

Children’s Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 55,026
• Median $ 53,525
Low $ 35,000
High $ 78,000

Women’s Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 53,758
• Median $ 56,340
Low $ 26,000
High $ 72,400

High School Pastor
• Average $ 51,152
• Median $ 53,100
Low $ 32,287
High $ 69,000

Church Technology Director
• Average $ 51,070
• Median $ 51,000
Low $ 25,000
High $ 87,000

Communications Director
• Average $ 50,277
• Median $ 47,200
Low $ 26,000
High $ 82,000

Media Director
• Average $ 49,508
• Median $ 51,500
Low $ 37,507
High $ 60,200

Human Resources Director
• Average $ 47,087
• Median $ 45,000
Low $ 31,000
High $ 70,484

Middle School Pastor
• Average $ 45,845
• Median $ 46,000
Low $ 27,500
High $ 62,500

Younger Children’s Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 45,714
• Median $ 40,000
Low $ 32,000
High $ 66,800

Older Children’s Ministry Pastor
• Average $ 40,050
• Median $ 40,050
Low $ 37,600
High $ 42,500

Teaching, Preaching and Healing

"Jesus went thoughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 5:23.

When churches engage in ministry among the people as Jesus did many of the results that happened to Jesus happen to the church.
"News about him spread all over..." This is a passive, not active construction. Jesus had an interesting approach to publilcity. At least seven times in the gospels, after he changed someone's life he said, "Now don't tell anyone." When we do some good in the community we often want to be sure that somehow we get credit so we attach our church name on the goods we hand out or wear T-shirts with our church's name emblazoned on the back. Attaching our name to the event is often counter-productive in a couple of ways. First, it removes the mystery by answering the question too quickly. Remember good deeds almost always create good will and beg the questions "Who are you?" and "Why are you doing this?" Matthew 5:16 says that when people observe good deeds they glofify God. Giving the answer before the question is asked fills in the "glory gap" ("Who should be credited with this wonderful thing?") too quickly. It is with a bit of irony that not saying anything gets people talking more. "Do you know who did this wonderful thing?" "No, but go talk to that woman over there...I think she might know.

Second, when people see the church's name attached they think, "Oh, I see this is just some sort of PR deal or marketing campaign. It's a good one but it's still marketing." Many churches spend lots of money on publicity promoting their brand. What if for one year you had the goal to be in the paper every week but it would be from what others said about you--just from the good you were doing? In 2004, my church, Calvary Bible EFC of Boulder was named "Volunteer Organization of the Year" for the state of Colorado. Others nominated us. We didn't nominate ourselves.

"People brought to him all who were ill..." Even though Jesus had a three-fold ministry of teaching, preaching and healing, people brought people to Jesus based on the most basic of needs. In the 1940s Abraham Maslow described an interesting and useful diagram to describe a person's motivations. This is called "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs." At the bottom rung of the pyramid is physiological needs--the basic stuff we need to survive--air, water, food, etc. A person lacking these immediate needs will not be in position to seek higher needs until these are first satisfied. This may help explain that while Jesus had more to offer than healing, people with physical needs came to him first to be healed. Jesus' ministry always included ministry to the body and soul. E. Stanley Jones wrote, “The social gospel divorced from personal salvation is like a body without a soul; the message of personal salvation without a social dimension is like a soul without a body. The former is a corpse, the latter is a ghost.” John R. Mott said, “Evangelism without social work is deficient; social work without evangelism is impotent.”

"Large crowds...followed him." Although, externally focused ministry may not necessarily lead to your your church growing, it will result in expansion of the kingdom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Avs lose but great evening

Last night I went with some good friends, Rick Murphy and his two kids, Justin and Laurel to the Avalanche game at the Pepsi Center. Rick is a long-time good friend and his kids are an absolute delight--smart, cleaver with a great sense of humor. The Avs lost but we made up for the loss with great seats, burritos, cotton candy, ice cream, licorice, gummy worms, prezels, etc. Best of all, the ref tossed Laurel (age 11) a puck (the one Joe Sakic scored with), after a tremendous collision on the glass right in front of Laurel. Unlike souvenir baseballs, hockey pucks are quite rare these days. After the game 9-year-old Justin wanted to stop at Wendys for a double stack cheeseburger, super-super large fries and a large frosty. That kid must have a hollow leg! Phil Theanimal!


Liminality...it's a word I had not heard of before. I read it last year in a book called Mission After Christendom by David Smith. Smith borrows the word from Alan Roxburgh's The Missionary Congregation, Leadership and Liminality. Its a word that social anthropologists use "to explain the process by means of which people in traditional societies make the transition from one stage of life to another...the experience of being between statuses, neither one thing nor the other, a kind of limbo which is prfoundly disorienting and troubling. People in a limina stage...feel as though the are being ground down to a uniform condition to be fashioned anew" (Smith p. 33) To describe liminality, Smith cites the time of the Babylonian captivity as a liminal state for Israel. What used to work, no longer works but what will work has not yet been discovered. "We too face a point at which God appears to be terminating our known world and inviting us to a new world in which the true nature of the church and its mission can be recovered" (Smith p. 35). Smith says we are in such a liminal state--between the dominance of the christendom at the center during the modern era and the yet-to-be-discovered patterns of the faith in the post-modern world. "...it is not surprising that our present experience involves real mental and spiritual anguish, but the analogy also suggests that it is precisely in the acceptance oand embrace of such painful dislocations that we may discover a new world gifted to us by the one who miraculously turns endings into surprise beginnings." Don't you just love that quote?

This morning I was reading Psalm 89. It was written by Ethan the Ezrahite. I think this was his "one hit wonder" but he does express the confusion of liminality. The first 37 verses are all about God's character, covenant and promises. Ethan knows the Scriptures. But the rest of the passage is about his current experience that is so different from what used to work. Of course this leads to questioning God. How can it not? What worked so well in the past no longer works...but God is still at work. How many times have we felt the same way when our world is rocked and God who once seemed so close, now feels so far away? What used to work in the past no longer works. This is when we need hope.

Smith points out that the "pre-exilic prophets prepared the way for the ending of the known world, seeking ot enable people to accept the loss of what had become familiar and beloved as being within the divine purpose, while those who preached during and after the exile summoned their hearers to receive with thankfulness the new world which God was bringing into being. As a result, on the one side of this great hisotorical chasm the dominant note is a harsh one since the prophetic message deals primarily with judgement, destruction and loss. By contrast, on the other side of the cataclysm the prophetic tone is very different. With Zion a smoking fuin and a bewildered and lamenting remnant living as strangters in a land with a brilliant and powerful culture which owed nothing to their faith in Yahweh, the urgent and despaerate need was for a new word of comfort and renewed vision and hope"(Smith, p.35)

The benefit of living in liminality, when what works has not yet been revealed, is that we have the opportunity to help shape that future.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

64 Years Ago Today

I'm reserving this space for Mom and Dad's reflections on where they were when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and what their response was. With 1200 WWII veterans dying every day, I'd like to get their thoughts captured.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Your Irrevocable Calling--by Os Hillman

For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. ~ Romans 11:29

It is dangerous to align your calling and your vocation as dependent on each other. God calls us into relationship with Him. That is our foremost calling. It is from this relationship that our "physical" calling results. Whether that is to be a teacher, a stockbroker, a nurse, a pastor, or any number of vocations, we must realize that when He calls us, the change in vocation never changes His call on our lives. It is a mere change in the landscape of our calling. This is why it is dangerous to associate our purpose and calling too closely with our work. When we define our work life exclusively as our calling, we fall into the trap of locking up our identity into our vocation. This promotes aspiration because of a need to gain greater self-worth through what we do.

Os Guinness, author of The Call, describes the great artist Picasso, who fell into this trap.
"When a man knows how to do something," Pablo Picasso told a friend, "he ceases being a man when he stops doing it." The result was a driven man. Picasso's gift, once idolized, held him in thrall. Every empty canvass was an affront to his creativity. Like an addict, he made work his source of satisfaction only to find himself dissatisfied. "I have only one thought: work," Picasso said toward the end of his life, when neither his family nor his friends could help him relax. [Os Guiness, The Call (Nashville, Tennessee: Word Publishing, 1998), 242.]

What happens when you lose your job? Do you lose your calling? Do you lose your identity? Do you lose your sense of well-being? No. Calling involves different stages and experiences in life. Disruptions in your work are an important training ground for God to fulfill all aspects of His calling on your life. Trust in your God who says your calling is irrevocable and that all things come from Him.
© Copyright 2000 Os Hillman. www.marketplaceleaders.orgTo contact author: os@marketplaceleaders.org

Baby Gentry at 3 Months

What a difference three months makes! On Friday, Liz and I drove to Artesia, New Mexico to be with Jeff's wife, Ashlie, her family and our new grandson. Need I say it? "He is so cute and so sweet and the spitting image of Jeff when he was a baby. We arrived on Friday afternoon and just sort of hung out till the Cauhape's took all of us to dinner at their favorite Mexican restaurant called La Fonda. Great food and fellowship. While we were just sitting down, Ashlie's sister, her husband Brent and their baby Christian arrived. We had a great time and the fajitas were all time. Jeff married into a great family. On Saturday we organized a bit of touch rugby for Ashlie's brother and some of his buddies...I'm still sore.

How the Gospel Grew

Here is an exerpt from a paper I wrote called "How the Gospel Grew" which highlights some of the writings of Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity.

The teachings of the early leaders emphasized the importance of love and service to others. The ecclesiastical writer, Tertullian wrote in around 215 “It is our care of the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Only look’ they say, ‘look how they love one another!’”[i] Writing of how Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage instructed his flock around the year 250, his biographer Ponianus wrote:
The people being assembled together, he first of all urges on them the benefits of mercy…. Then he proceeds to add that there is nothing remarkable in cherishing merely our own people with the due attentions of love, but that one might become perfect who should do something more than heathen men or publicans, one who, overcoming evil with good, and practicing a merciful kindness like that of God, should love his enemies as well…Thus the good was done to all men, not merely to the household of faith. [ii]

Now imagine being a third century believer. Your mind is saturated with the teachings of Jesus regarding his love and compassion for others. Evangelism is incarnation as much as it is proclamation. You are captivated by the story of the Good Samaritan and of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Your life is guided by Jesus’ precepts of the blessedness of giving over receiving, doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you, loving your neighbor as yourself, being merciful just as God is merciful. You imagine yourself standing in front of Jesus one day in judgment, where the test will be, “Whatever you did to the least of these my brothers, you did unto me.” Your faith is not just a belief system to give you comfort in times of distress but it is also your marching orders. Your faith apart from deeds would be dead. So how do you act when adversity strikes?

Stark notes that there were at least two great plagues in the first three centuries (160 and 250 AD) that actually were instrumental in the nascent church’s incredible growth rate, which he estimates at 40% per decade. When the plagues came, those who were able fled the city but not the Christians. They stayed and ministered to the sick and dying--Christians and non-Christians alike. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, writing of how believers responded to the plague of 250 observes:
Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead…. The best of brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning height commendation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.[iii]

Writing of the response of those who were not followers of Christ, Dionysius continues. “The heathen behaved in the very opposite way. At the first onset of the disease, they pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead and treated unburied corpses as dirt…”[iv] Stark observes that just giving basic care of food and water to those too weak to care for themselves would greatly reduce the mortality rate of the victims. He estimates that 80% of Christians survived the plagues compared to only 25-50% of the general population. So when the plagues subsided, the believers were a substantially higher portion of the population. Beyond this differential in mortality, when non-Christians were nursed to health by believers, many of them, through being recipients of such love, became Christians themselves. When those who fled the city returned to find their loved ones still alive and kicking, it only increased their admiration of the believers and many of them became ardent followers of Christ. People remember how they were treated in the worst of times.
This type of love cannot be manufactured. It can’t be faked. In the year 362, the Emperor Julian wrote to the high (pagan) priest of Galatia “that the recent Christian growth was caused by their ‘moral character, even if pretended,’ and by their ‘benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead.’”[v] In a letter to another priest he wrote, “The impious Galileans (Christians) support not only their poor, but ours as well, every one can see that our people lack aid from us.”[vi] These observations caused Julian to launch a campaign to institute pagan charities “but for all that he urged pagan priest to match…Christian practices, there was little or no response because there were no doctrinal bases or traditional practices for them to build upon.”[vii] Stark concludes that it was the gospel’s overwhelming growth and influence that caused Emperor Constantine to acknowledge the triumph of Christianity rather than cause it.
“Then did they show themselves to the heathen in the clearest light. For the Christians were the only people who amid such terrible ills showed their feeling and humanity by their actions. Day by day some would busy themselves with attending to the dead and burying them (for there were numbers to whom no one else paid any heed); others gathered in one spot all who were afflicted by hunger throughout the whole city and gave bread to them all. When this became known, people glorified the Christians’ God and, convinced by the very facts, confessed the Christians alone were truly pious and religious.” Eusebius on how Christians displayed self-denying love in the great plague which occurred in the reign of Maximinus Daza (p. 214)

Implications for today
The early church was a church with its sleeves rolled up. If we can learn from the early Christians we may discover that the gospel is most fertile where human needs and the calling of Jesus intersect. Today, in each of our communities, we may not be ravaged by fatal plagues, but we face many situations of human need that loving, compassionate followers of Christ could address. Good deeds can be the bridge over which the good news flows. In Augustine’s words, Christians are to “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” We don't serve to convert. We serve because we are converted. Tutoring, mentoring, sheltering the homeless, caring for children of the incarcerated, providing school supplies, and welcoming immigrants are powerful evangelistic tools. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” is not a dispensational truth to be ignored but may be the best strategy for church growth and church health.
[i] Ibid, P 87
[ii] Ibid, P. 87
[iii] (At the height of the second great epidemic, around 260, in the Easter letter from Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria. In some cities 2/3 of the population died. At the height of the plague of 251 AD, 5,000 people a day were dying in Rome.
[iv] Ibid, P. 83
[v] Ibid, P.84
[vi] Ibid, P. 84
[vii] Ibid, P. 88

Author: Eric Swanson works with Leadership Network (www.leadnet.org)

Good to Great in the Social Sector

Yesterday I was in a half-day meeting with Bob Buford and a few other folks here in Dallas. At the end of a meeting, Bob read to us a few exerpts from his conversation with Jim Collins which were subsequently put in his newsletter (www.activeenergy.net). I received the newsletter this morning and wanted to pass this along. At the end of the letter Bob asks for a bit of help in answering a question Jim Collins asked. I'll attach my answer in the next posting. Enjoy!

At our dinner, Collins provided more insight. Two years ago (perhaps influenced by Peter Drucker's question--"Are we motivated by achievement or contribution?), Collins said that he next wanted to research the implications of his Good to Great discoveries to see if they applied not only to business, but also to nonprofit organizations, such as the ones in which I was investing my time and resources. I've been curious ever since. On the way into dinner, he handed me what he described as "the one and only copy" of the galleys for a 35-page monograph describing what his preliminary research had uncovered. His team had done work with more than 100 social sector leaders. To say the least, this set the agenda for the next two hours!

I can't do better then to direct you to the monograph, which is now available (see resources below), but here are some of the "sound bites" I wrote down furiously - making notes on the back of the monograph as we made our way through a largely ignored, albeit elegant, dinner:
1. Somewhere between 30 percent and 50 percent of those who have read Good to Great came from societal sectors other than business.
2. The Good to Great principles - things like Level 5 Leadership - do indeed apply to the social sector, maybe even better than we expected, but the realities that social sector leaders face are perceived to be quite different from the business sector.
3. Do not assume your business success will cause you to be successful in a nonprofit. The metrics are different. In business, money is both an input and an output. In nonprofits, money is an input, but not a measure of greatness.
4. There are not rational capital markets for the social sector. Notice that foundations are ranked based on dollars spent, i.e., by inputs, not outputs. In nonprofits, the confusion between inputs and outputs is rampant. Money is both an input and an output in business.
The output of the social sector is to meet social objectives, human needs and national priorities.
5. What Collins described as "driving an economic engine" in business shifts to driving the resource engine in the social sector. There are three key resources in a nonprofit: volunteer energy, money (an output) and brand capital. Collins described brand capital as reputation, track record and trust. "When people believe in the story of an organization and its ability to deliver superior results," Collins told me last Saturday by phone, "it becomes easier to build sustained resources in the absence of rational capital markets."
6. Collins said, "What leaps out is that our work is not fundamentally about business; it is about what separates good from great in all sectors. A social sector organization can't be expected to learn what makes for great from a mediocre business organization."
7. Sometimes, impact is inversely proportionate to scale. Sometimes, less is more.

There was lots more that evening. It is well captured in Collins' Monograph (This is available on Amazon). I can't more strongly recommend that you obtain and use it as the basis for discussion in the nonprofits in which you are involved.

But for now, I will ask you to ponder a very profound question that Collins posed for me. How would you have answered?:

Collins began with a parable that went something like this: "If I came to you today and said there was a man wandering around in the Middle East with fifty followers. In 300 years, his religion would be the formal religion of the United States. What did they do to connect the dots? Put aside that it had to happen because it was true. How did it happen?"

In our phone conversation this past Saturday, Collins clarified what I had expected all along. He was talking about Jesus Christ and the 300 year period between His crucifixion and the time when Constantine made Christianity the established religion of the Roman Empire. Collins said, "People say I am constructed for curiosity. No one has ever solved this one for me. What were the social mechanisms and organizational tools that allowed this statistically remote outcome to happen? What took place in the 300 years between Christ and Constantine?
Here's what I propose - send me your answers by e-mail in the next two weeks. I will collect them and send them all on to Collins. I will feature some of your answers and give you my answers in a future ACTIVEenergy newsletter. Here's your chance to influence an influencer - a genuine seeker after truth

Family Sadness

On Saturday, while driving home from a delightful time with Jeff's wife Ashlie, our new baby grandson and the Cauhape family we got a call from my mom, who through her tears told us that little Tommy, my niece Brenda's son, had died in his sleep on the eve of his second birthday. We are all in shock and grieving for this sad, sad loss. Tommy was in perfect health and a subsequent autopsy showed his heart, lungs and brain were all healthy. The physicians mentioned something about sleep apnia since he was older than the typical SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). My nephew Matt caught a plane Sunday and landed yesterday in Brisbane, Australia to be with the rest of his family. They are holding on tightly to each other and to God. Brenda and Christian's pastor, neighbors and family have been wonderfully kind and full of grace. It's hard to find words for times like these. My 80 year old mother said it was the hardest loss she has ever been through. My brother Bruce said it was so difficult to experience his grandson's death, but to also see the pain of his own daughter's loss that made all of this so difficult.

Bruce's wife, Lynn Maree, just sent this note to us:

My dearest family,

Thank you so much. We are living in the moment holding each other up.Brenda and Christian have been amazing witnesses for the Lord and strength of Christ and have really comforted us and keep us all standing strong. It is still very hard for us to understand and everything that you read about grief - sadness, anger, guilt, pain happens over in over in cycles. On Sunday we were lost for words - there was no comfort but to hold on to each other and as one person moved around the room another one would bethere to hold arms, hands, legs any thing to be comforted and close. The autopsy was performed yesterday and Tommy was in perfect health and perfect organs, his heart was sound and his brain was perfect. An angel came and took him home. The police, the paramedics, the coroner, the forensic detectives were very kind, professional, and understanding. Bruce has been very strong especially his pain is great yet he has beenmy strength and my comfort even as he watches his child suffer so. We cry then we are comforted. Yesterday we laughed, we had the joy of being with Jayden (Brenda and Christian's second son born a day before Gentry) and Georgia and they brought us such happiness amongst our greatest sorrow. Thank you for loving us and praying for us.

The funeral will be Friday in Brisbane. We hold all of them in our prayers.
December 13 update from brother Bruce: "The Service was awesome with over 300 in attendance! We went to the Sunday 10:30 am Service at GCC and all sat as a group. One of the pastors who attended the service honored Brenda and Christian as did the whole congregation. This particular mate said that in his 30 years in the ministry, this was one of the most powerful events he has ever attended."

December 16 I sent this email to family:
I wanted to give you an update since the funeral. Matt arrived on Tuesday and worked Wednesday and Thursday and then drove down from Fort Collins with Leah and met the Lambs, Wilcoxes and us for dinner at a little place called "Efrain's". A big shock was that someone had been totally disgusted with all the dust that was on the archives in the library and all of them were taken down, the shelves were dusted and the newly-cleaned archives were re-arranged on the shelves. The shelves needed to be thinned out but gone is our whole China display of the Xian terra cotta warriors, the praying hands of Efrains (captured in my blog) and a few other things. Oh well, they served their purpose for a time.

After dinner we went over to our place and I set up the LCD projector and speakers and Matt gave us the programs from the funeral. They were beautiful. They not only contained the order of the service but cute things Tommy said and did. He then showed us the DVD that was shown at Tommy's funeral. All of us of course were sniffling and crying, not just at the death of Tommy, but by the beauty of such a loving family--blended and different but holding on to each other and being there. All the sets of grandparents and half-sibblings and step-sibblings showed up to love and care...even if they didn't know exactly what to say. Tommy was a beautiful child...so absolutely cute and to see him constantly surrounded by people who loved him and that he obviously loved to be with. Many of the pictures we had seen before because Simon or Christian would pass them our way, so even for us who had not personally met Tommy, we felt like we have watched him grow up. At the funeral, Bruce spoke, Matt and Lyn spoke, the pastor spoke and then Christian and Brenda spoke. Brenda read from her journal--the first entry when Tommy was born and the last one, the night before he died. Matt estimated that some 350 were there.

Matt then showed us all of the pictures that he / others had taken during the week. I guess Brenda and Christian's house was full of people who cancelled life for the week just to be with them. The capaccino machine was going, people were whipping up speshes...the house was filled with flowers and balloons. People brought by snacks and food. The pictures of the funeral were moving. A few people had the foresight to take a camera to capture the moment. This should always be done. (Andy and I flew back to Pennsylvania in March to be at the funeral of the son of a Campus Crusade who was killed in Afghanistan on Easter weekend. He was one of Andy's best friends. I took a few pics with a disposable camera of Brett's military funeral and sent them to Roger and Roxanne. Roxanne later told me that these were the only pictures they had from the funeral and wished she had more since during the actual time she was in such a daze.) When Tommy was laid to rest hundreds of colorful balloons were launched into the sky. It was beautiful and stunning. The reception, at Brenda and Christian's was again packed with neighbors, family and friends. The pictures were in color...not in black and white. There were lots of smiles. Brenda baked the batman cake that had been planned for Tommy's 2nd birthday. It was reminiscent of Paul's words about not mourning "as those who have no hope." There is plenty of mourning...and we in the states are mourning, but we are mourning with hope that the resurrection brings. We'll all see Tommy again one day. So in some ways we feel like we were there with you.

It's great to be part of a family.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Quotes from December

On gifts and strengths
"So true it is that the gods do not give every gracious gift to all, neither shapeliness, nor wisdom, nor skilled speech. For one man is feebler than another in presence, yet the god crowns his words with beauty, and men behold him and rejoice, and his speech runs surely on his way with a sweet modesty, and he shines forth among the gathering of his people, and as he passes through the town men gaze on him as a god. Another again is like the deathless gods for beauty, but his words have no crown of grace about them; even as thou art in comeliness pre-eminent, nor could a god himself fashion thee for the better, but in wit thou art a weakling." Odysseus to Euryalus in Chapter 8 of the Odyssey

(On the possibility of CU hiring Boise State's Dan Hawkins:
"Did I say no controversy? OK, there has been a hint of such here and there during his tenure at Boise. For instance: Two seasons ago, Boise held a 20-14 lead over Tulsa with 49 seconds remaining. The Broncos had possession of the ball, and could have run out the clock. Instead, Boise scored — and the Broncos then had to hang on as Tulsa came back with a touchdown to close the gap to 27-20. Asked why he didn't have his team take a knee near the end, Hawkins was in no mood to quibble. "If we had knelt on the ball at the end of the game, wouldn't that have been the end of the game? Yeah, it would have been," Hawkins said. "But Gandhi didn't take a knee, Martin Luther King didn't take a knee, Thomas Edison didn't take a knee, and I sure as hell am not going to take a knee."
Truthfully? I like that.

Neil Woelk in The Daily Camera, "Simply Put, 'Hawk' is a Winner" December 14, 2005

"Religion is for peolple who are afraid to go to hell. Spirituality is for those of us who have been there and back." Bonnie Raitt.

"We are the original just-in-time-business. We have one market: the world's children. We have one deliverable: the right toys to the right kids. We have one delivery date: December 25. We can't move extra merchandise through after Chrstmas sales. We don't have outlet stores. We have to get these things right." From HBR Case Study on North Pole Workshops Dec. 2005. p. 40

"More than 100 years ago, Ralph Waldo emerson reportedly declared during a lecture, 'If a man can write a better boo, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.' But Emerson was only half right. Creativity and insight are certainly important, but without an effective network, you may never spark your imagination, reinvent yourself, or declare your sensational news to the world." "How to build your Network by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap, HBR, December 2005. p. 60

"In spiritual practice, there are only two things: you sit, and you sweep the garden. And it doesn't matter how big the garden is." Zen saying

"Liz, what you lack in computer skills you make up in "nice." You're really nice." Cynthia Beal talking to Liz Swanson.

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Mark Twain

"Some people ae heroes. And some people jot down notes." Terry Pratchett

"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.--Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973)

"Many books require not thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them." Charles Caleb Colton

"Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron." Psalm 77:19,20

Soldier Blogs: www.milblogging.com

"Some people have the ability to do a lot of things. Others have the ability to get things done. I want to be one who gets things done." Liz Swanson