vendredi, août 04, 2006


I'm a huge fan of systems thinking. Those who look at life through a systemic lens view families and organizations as complex organic spiderwebs, everyone having a part to play-sometimes acting, sometimes reacting. Over the past 30 or so years, psychologists and organizational development mavens have applied this analytical perspective therapeutically, to help families heal, and organizationally, to create healthier, more effective companies, congregations and schools. One of the things a systems lens does is to help people stop focussing on who is "right" and who is "wrong." That is helpful both in the family and in the workplace: no longer can the sole blame for dysfunction be placed on Dad, with his nagging, or Debbie, the bosses' secretary. When you look at a system, you realize that everybody in it needs to take responsibility for his or her own behavior-if one part of the body displays health, others may follow (or they might eat the healthy person for lunch-but isn't it better to go down in a good cause?) What if we applied this point of view to the Israeli-Arab wars? What if we, outside the Middle East, refused to tolerate the breast-beating and posturing and insane desire to play the victim that goes on -on both sides? What if we didn't indulge in this kind of behavior ourselves? Imagine- How wonderful it would be if Republicans and Democrats in Congress could realize that they need to suppress their groupthink reflex because they serve the American people and not their particular parochial viewpoint. Politicians who serve the, what a concept!

mardi, août 01, 2006

The many facets of QVC

Before I moved to Glenmoore last September, I lived right down the block from QVC...for those of you who have been 20 years on Jupiter, that's the grandma of shopping channels. Although I thought it added a touch of class to my rather bland suburb, I never took the time to drive by and tour. I didn't even really spend more than a couple of minutes watching it. It's not that I'm a Puritan. I do a lot of online shopping, and I will sometimes indulge in a nice skirt at Bluefly or in buying used designer clothes on E-Bay. But, until now, I'd never had a real reason to take a look at QVC. Since my reason is irrelevant to this little meditation on the shopping network, let me just say that it has been fascinating. I've watched too many burned pots get cleaned, but the cookware does seem very high quality. A couple of days ago they had some neat misters (not guys, I wish) that would have been wonderful on a hot day outside. I am told by someone on the inside that the "merch" is very good, and I see no reason not to believe them. The anchors handle questions and chat with callers, usually women. They praise Philosophy (the make-up) chat about how they lost 49 pounds on NutriSystem, ask questions about Dell computers and are generally extremely enthusiastic about the products. Yet after a while, I get dazed by the amount of merchandise and I have to turn it off. I watch more like a journalist than a shopper-why is she holding her hand that way? What does she do when the comments get inane? Is there a reason for photographing that bread with a slice cut out? You QVC shoppers- I'd love to hear how you decide when to watch, and what to purchase. Do you go on binges? Do you like particular anchors? Dish the dirt.

dimanche, juillet 30, 2006

We are all Rachels

This week my kids are away with their dad in Chautauqua, the upstate New York town where generations of families go for lectures, camp, and fun time together. I miss them terribly. My little Colin (he's going to be nine in a couple of weeks... Although he looks like he may end up being the size of a minor-league basketball player, I think I get a pass on calling him "little" until he turns ten) gave me this hideous looking Leggo creature and told me to keep it on my desk until he returned. Everytime I look at it, he said, I should think of him. And I do. But today I'm also thinking of two other kids. One of them was photographed right after he died of measles or malaria or one of the other totally preventable diseases that haunt the Congo, along with the curse of war. His photo was on the Times website yesterday. Beautiful even in death, he looked as though he was sleeping in the clinic set up to save children like him. A woman, possibly a nurse, touched his feet: they had attached an oxygen mask in an attempt to save his life, but by the time he had reached the clinic, miles from his home, it was too late. Today's photo, so reminiscent of the famous one from the Oklahoma City bombing, showed the limp body of a little girl in the arms of a frantic Lebanese man. Bent on destroying Hezbollah, the Israeli's bombed an apartment building where two families had taken refuge, killing more than 50. The vast majority of those killed were children. We say we love children here in America. We have endless books and websites on parenting. We have stores that make an industry out of dressing our kids, and independent schools that help them get into the best universities, and camps to keep them busy during the summertime. Yet we remain silent, or complicit, when other children in our world die of measles when a cheap inoculation could have saved them, or die because they were too poor to get out of a war zone. The most effective thing one could do, I decided, was to send a donation to Doctors Without Borders, the heroic organization working ghastly conditions to help families all over the world, or to another charitable group. Please, please...prayerfully do something so that other children will not die like they did. And, of course, we can also pray. We can pray for peace. We pray that in some other place, the place where they were created, their uniqueness is recognized by the God who does not take them and their beauty as lightly as we did. We pray that God will take away our hearts of stone, and give all of us, Christian, Jew and Muslim, hearts of flesh so that we will not walk by when another human being is being hurt. Here are a couple of websites for news or for donations: or Middle East Christian Outreach...their website is