Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

31 December, 2010

A PASSION STIMULANT FOR THE NEW YEAR

video
MAY 2011 BE HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND FULFILLING.  HERE'S TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH, DEAR FRIEND!

Note: You might want to view this video on full screen.

30 December, 2010

A LOOK AT THE ROLE OF RELIGION AND FAITH IN INCREASING GLOBALIZATION

Globalisation (or globalization) describes the process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a global network of political ideas through communication, transportation, and trade. The term is most closely associated with economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, the spread of technology, and military presence. However, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological factors. The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. An aspect of the world which has gone through the process can be said to be "globalised". --Wikipedia

News Flash:  While demographics are changing, religion is not dying.  In an era of the aforedefined "globalization", the world is in fact more reliant than ever on the reason, compassion and progress represented in its various faith communities.

It is interesting to note that the number of people proclaiming their faith worldwide is growing, particularly in the Islamic world where the population is expected to double in future decades.  Religion's largest growth at present is in China and there is a huge evangelical movement in Brazil and Mexico.  In Canada and the United States, of course, faith remains a vital part of people's lives.  Even in Europe, the numbers confessing to a belief in God remain high and there are hundreds of millions of Hindus and still solid numbers of Sikhs and Jews.

Wonderful work is done around the world thanks to "faith" organizations active in combating poverty and disease.  In any developed nation, selfless care is being provided to the disabled, the dying, the destitute and disadvantaged.  Common to all great religions is love of neighbours and human equality.

Quite disturbingly, on the other hand, religion can be used as a negative motivational force.  It cannot be dismissed that religion has the potential for promotion of extremism and even terrorism.  Faith can be a badge of identity in opposition to those who do not share it -- a kind of spiritual nationalism, if you will, that can be dangerously explosive.  To a degree, this is a threat that has always existed and is not going away any time soon.

The pressure of globalization, however, offers a unique opportunity to push the world's population ever closer together as technology advances and shrinks the globe.  Growing up 50 or 60 years ago, children in North America would rarely meet someone of a different culture or faith background.  Today, our children and grandchildren are growing up in a myriad of different languages, faiths and colours, requiring  mutual respect and understanding.  Such a world upends traditions and challenges old thinking, literally forcing us to choose consciously to embrace it -- or not.

In the words of Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, "...and there is the rub:  For some this force is a threat that menaces deeply conservative societies.  For those for whom religion matters, globalization can sometimes be accompanied by an aggressive secularism or hedonism that makes many uneasy."

Blair, admirably, is demonstrating a commitment to making sense of how the world of faith interacts with the compulsive process of globalization.  Bothered by the "extremism" he sees in the world, he has created the Faith Foundation with the ambitious goal of promoting greater understanding between world faiths.  His reasoning is simple...Those advocating extremism in the name of religion are active, well resourced and whatever the reactionary nature of their thinking, brilliant at using modern communications and technology to the tune of billions of dollars a year to promote their view of religion.

Durham University in England is the leading hub of Blair's Faith and Globalization initiative.  The university program, designed to take religion out of the sole preserve of divinity schools and to start analyzing its role in the world today, is underway in nine countries.  Another program links high school students across the world through interactive technology to discuss their faith and what it means to them.  There is an action plan too, through which young people work with those of another faith to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations-led program to combat world poverty.

In a period when former world leaders opt for writing profitable books and garnering outlandish fees for guest speaking appearances, I have deep respect for the Tony Blairs and Jimmy Carters (Habitat for Humanity) who after retirement from politics use their considerable weight and influence to promote world betterment.  

"We are just one organization, there are a number of others starting," Blair wrote in a recent article, Faith in a Globalized Age.  "But governments should start to take this far more seriously.  Religious leaders must also accept a new responsibility to stand up firmly and resolutely for respecting those of faiths different from their own."

Aggressive secularists and extremists feed off each other and together they do constitute a real challenge to people of faith.  Blair is totally accurate with his contention that we must demonstrate the loving nature of true faith; otherwise, religion will be defined by a battle in which extremists seize control of faith communities and secularists claim that such attitudes are intrinsic to religion. 

It is in this era of globalization that faith can truly represent reason and progress.  Heaven help us...the world needs faith, the tie that binds us all.

The role of religion in a globalized age is a complex subject, almost beyond the grasp of an ordinary mind.  So, what can you and I do from the insignificant little grain of sand that we occupy on this earth with our limited singular resources and minimal attachment?

Answer: We can support religious initiatives, pray for enlightenment -- and above all, have "faith"! 

24 December, 2010

ENJOY "THE BREATH OF HEAVEN"



In keeping with my belief that music is synonymous with the Christmas tradition, bringing to life the true meaning behind everything we celebrate, I post the following with thanks to Inspiration Manifestation of which I am a subscriber.

Songbird Amy Grant sang for years in church and in her school. When she was 15 years of age she took a simple job at a Nashville recording studio sweeping floors and demagnetizing tapes. Soon after that, a friend helped her to duplicate a tape of her original songs.

As chance would have it, a “Word Records” producer heard the tape. He then played it over the phone for some company executives and just before she turned 16, Amy Grant signed her first recording contract.

Aside from the fact that Amy was the first Contemporary Christian artist to reach platinum sales status and the first Christian artist to win a Grammy for Best Pop Gospel Performance she is credited for something much larger.  Contemporary Christian music was making headway in the mid-’80s, however, she was the first Christian artist to crossover and achieve success in the secular genre. Her Christian audience at first didn’t take kindly to that, but her longevity has proven that it was meant to be as more and more Christian artists and songs continue to grace the airways and the televised music award shows.

This song “Breath Of Heaven” was written by Chris Eaton. He has penned songs for the Who’s Who of recording artists. Along with being a recording artist himself, he is considered to be one of the most influential Christian artists.

When Amy heard this song she immediately wanted to record it. Ironically she was expected her own baby at the time and asked Chris if she could change a lyric in the chorus to reflect her feelings which she felt might have paralleled Mary’s experience of expecting her baby “Jesus”. Chris agreed, but only for Amy's version.

Another meaningful contribution to the world of music and an even greater gift to those who find special significance in it. 

23 December, 2010

SELDOM-EXAMINED PERSPETIVE OF JOSEPH

The last thing I want to do in this post is to put a wet blanket over the celebration of Christmas, but just for a moment let's take a closer look at one aspect of the story.

Have you ever had that struggle of faith when life presents you with a dilemma in which you’re not sure how to respond and you wonder where God is in all of it? You’re faced with whether or not to accept it and move ahead in faith or reject it as being too preposterous. That’s the position in which we find Joseph as we examine the Christmas story from his often overlooked perspective.

W. H. Auden has pictured Joseph at home that night, in an empty house, sitting there in the dark. He hears everything; the drip of the bathroom tap, the creak of the sofa spring, the wind against the window. And he hears Mary, again and again, telling him about the angel, about the message, about the Messiah. But who would believe it? Who could believe that God would choose to invade space and time via a *scandalous disgrace?

   *(Scandal:  n. something shameful or disgraceful.)

Who would not blame Joseph for following through on an impulse to quietly divorce and walk away from his wife-to-be who was telling him that she was pregnant with a child that was not his?  Can you imagine Joseph explaining to his friends that Mary was pregnant with God's baby?  Think of the predictable reactions.

The more I ponder on this story, the more I meditate on the few brief verses of this incredibly poignant Bible passage regarding Joseph and Mary, the more I think maybe scandal was precisely the point. Maybe the circumstances surrounding the Christ child's birth were meant to tell us what following Him would really mean. Maybe following the Messiah would mean the same thing for us that it meant for Joseph -- scandal, being frowned on, losing friends.

After all, life does not follow a perfect script for any of us.  Things do not always work out for us as ideally as we would hope.  We face one dilemma after another and either we accept them or we don't.

So what is God trying to tell us in this little bit of Christmas trivia? The message to me is that like Joseph, we can accept scandal and difficult circumstances by replacing initial panic with trust.  Joseph did not have answers to his dilemma but he put his trust in the only One who could give the answers.

There is always a message and an answer for every challenge in life.  Sadly, for many of us, the real scandal is in our attempts to pretend that there is no scandal.



*Click on the "Watch on YouTube" line (above) to view after activating the video.
"Mary Did You Know" was written by a very young Mark Lowry who I first got to know through The Gaither Hour, one of my most favorite musical programs on TV.

When Mark went off to college in 1975, he intended to graduate with a degree in business. However, after feeling that God was calling him to a music ministry he graduated in 1980 with a Youth degree.  He immediately began performing at churches around the country. In between songs, he would talk about his life and to share his testimony with a unique sense of humor that has become his trademark.

Mark soon realized he was on to something and an entertainer was born. He began performing for churches all over the country with his music/comedy act.  In 1984 something happened that would establish him as a songwriter. After his church asked him to write a Christmas play, he wondered what it would have been like to be the mother of Jesus.

He turned his questions into lyrics but it would be six years and two other song-writers later before Buddy Greene would put music to Mark’s lyrics.  The rest is history, or should we say “fate”, as Mark’s song is now popular not only at Christmas but throughout the entire year.

19 December, 2010

STORY BEHIND THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

A man named Robert L. May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.


His four-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer and little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a boy and only five feet tall as an adult, Bob was often bullied by other kids. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938 which just happened to be my first Christmas.

Robert L. (Bob) May with the original creation of Rudolph.  He passed away in 1976.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook. Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob.  The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.

Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy Gene Autry. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear make-believe friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.



18 December, 2010

WE CAN ALL "STAR" IN OUR OWN MOVIE

Has the thought that life is sort of like a movie ever crossed your mind?  It certainly has for me.

In fact, if you look around, you start to notice that we all play certain roles in life.  This can be good or bad depending on the role that we've been "cast in" by life.

But wouldn't it be nice if you could play the role that YOU WANT?  I'm talking about being the person YOU want to be.

Maybe you want to be outgoing and fun or possibly make a major contribution in some way, shape or form.  Or maybe you'd rather be financially comfortable.  How about just being a better person?  We can all think of a long list of roles we would like to play in our own life movie, I am sure.

I have studied positive thinking and the art of turning dreams into reality for many years and for some reason I have never fully been able to master the techniques.  Maybe it is simply because I am just more comfortable living in my harmless little, fanciful dream world rather than taking the steps necessary to make certain things happen.

The thought of being a "star" in my own movie production was introduced to me the other day and it kind of impacted my thinking in a new way.  Quite simply, we all have the ability to see ourselves as the persons we want to be and there is nothing stopping us from taking on that role and playing it through to a happy (Hollywood) ending.

So for me, while there are still a few yards of unexposed film remaining on the old movie reel, it's "lights, action -- camera!"

...Coming soon to a theatre near you! 

13 December, 2010

LET'S REJOICE IN DIFFERENCES AND PUT THE MERRY BACK IN OUR CHRISTMAS

I am the first to admit that I was slow to warm to the idea of an increased emphasis on multiculturalism in Canada.  I just didn't think that it was warranted.  Typically, I was thinking from a singular mind.

Needless to say, my attitude has softened and my understanding has grown proportionally in recent years. 

I appreciate multiculturalism now as a celebration of each other's culture and religion, not denying, avoiding or re-inventing it.  After all, Id is Id, Dewali is Dewali and Hanukkah is Hanukkah, which leads me to the point of this post...Why do Christian Christmas greetings become "Season's Greetings"?   

I agree with Clarence McMullen of Richmond Hill who suggests that a culture that denies its own traditions can never truly appreciate and celebrate other cultures, let alone their own.  In Clarence's words: "It is nothing less than hypocrisy to say 'Season's Greetings'; or even worse 'Holiday Greetings'," correctly pointing out that "holidays" are traditionally in the summer months.

He explains that he is a Christian who was raised in India.  "Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs would come to our house on Christmas to wish us well, have tea and cake, and even sing a few carols with us.  During other festivals, we would join family friends to celebrate with them as well.    We continue to do this in Canada and again the majority of people who come to our Christmas celebration are Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

"Should I be offended at what people of other faiths call their festivals?  Or should the true expression of my faith be to celebrate these occasions with my neighbours and to share their happiness?"

Right on, my friend Clarence.  But you are forgetting that we also "celebrate" something else in Canada these days and it is called "political correctness" which apparently applies only to Christians who are all too willing to sacrifice some of their traditions by watering down something so innocent as Christmas greetings.

Christmas is what it is...What's not so correct about that?

Merry Christmas, everyone!  No apologies from this traditionalist who recognizes the common roots of other religious festivals and the right to celebrate them without compromise.


10 December, 2010

FLASH AND IT'S THE SOUND OF MUSIC

This flash mob took place in a Belgium train station and amazingly, the accoustics there sound like a world class performing arts center.  It’s easy to imagine the excitment this surprise performance evoked as the dancers just kept showing up and the audience seemed to revel in the moment.  Julie Andrews' voice is crystal clear as she sings the infamous song Do Re Mi and it can’t help but bring back memories of The Sound of Music.  You just can't help but smile and love it.

video

08 December, 2010

FIVE MORE MONTHS OF THIS? YUCK!

ENOUGH ALREADY!  They say that there are still some parts of Southern Ontario and the USA where green grass is still showing. Well, not in the Grey-Bruce area, that's for sure -- particularly Saugeen Shores where almost three-feet of the white stuff has piled up in the past three or four days.  As for me, the novelty has worn off already.  A snow bank at the end of my driveway was as good a place as any tonight (Dec. 8) to take a rest. 

07 December, 2010

WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE OUR BLESSINGS

Dream inspired version of what happens in Heaven

A very good friend passed the following item along to me.  It originated in the form of an email message which the unknown author hoped would ultimately receive wide circulation.   I found the writing so simple yet creative and meaningful that I immediately saw merit in posting it today.  In a world rife with agendas, cynicism and general dissatisfaction, we need such humble (Christian) offerings to remind us of how furtunate we really are.

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section.  Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.


Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section. The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, graces and blessings requested through prayers are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."  I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.  "How is it that there is no work going on here?" I asked.

"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."

"How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" I asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. "Just say: Thank you, Lord."

"What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy."

"And if you get this message on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."

"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness... you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day ."

"If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 700 million people in the world."

"If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world "

"If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair."

OK, what now, you may ask?  How can I start?


If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else of how blessed we all are.

03 December, 2010

PAWS DOWN, MAN'S BEST FRIEND...






 Dog's Purpose? 

Author unknown
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a 10-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.  As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.  The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.


Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.


He said, ''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''


The six-year-old continued,''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''


Live simply.


Love generously.


Care deeply.


Speak kindly.


Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:


When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.


Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.


Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.


Take naps.


Stretch before rising.


Run, romp, and play daily.


Thrive on attention and let people touch you.


Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.


On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.


On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.


When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.


Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.


Be loyal.


Never pretend to be something you're not.


If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.


When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

01 December, 2010

KIDS DESERVE EXPOSURE TO THIS ONE


*http://www.clubtuki.com/

NOTE FROM DICK:  I have affiliated with ClubTUKI.com because I believe wholeheartedly in the concept and its value to children as they become acquainted with  computers in their homes.  "ClubTUKI" is not only an educational Internet tool -- it is FUN too and an excellent means of parental control.  So I invite all my Wrights Lane followers who have children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, to click on this site's *link above and discover something for kids that is really quite amazing.