shortbread

short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “destiny”

“Smokey the Bear and Catherine of Sienna?”

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Besides being bears, what do Smokey the Bear and Winnie the Pooh have in common?

Wait for it…  Hold that thought…  I’ll tell you in a sec….

It was just another facebook poster:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – Saint Catherine of Sienna  (shared on meetville.com).

The irony—and I didn’t know this till I did a little research—Saint Catherine was/is the Catholic Church’s Patron Saint of Fire Prevention.

I’ve known a few “saints of fire-prevention” along the way.  Self-designated dowsers throwing water on anything vaguely resembling innovation. If it was not in the rule book…if it meant going off the beaten path or over the beaten budget…if it threatened to crack the glass ceiling of “the way we’ve always done it”—the saints of fire prevention just said, “No.”  In church. In business. In society.

Unfortunately, the only way we find the new-and-wonderful is to let go of at least some of the old-and-not-as-wonderful-as-it-once-was.  Nicodemus did it in John 3.  It’s the story where Jesus said, “you must be born again.” It’s a new wineskins for new wine thing.

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Though Catherine received no formal education, and though she only lived to the age of 33, she was recognized as one of the most intelligent theological and philosophical minds in the Catholic world.  Don’t you know the old cardinals loved having this young, female voice swaying the Pope’s decisions?  But she didn’t care. True truth-tellers aren’t bent by winds of popular opinion. She was a mover and a shaker. And despite her later designation as Patron Saint of Fire Prevention, she was anything but in her life on earth.  She was a fire starter, bringing light and hope and joy and new life to a struggling Church.

Her secret?…

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  She was, and she did.

Oh… I almost forgot….

Besides being bears, what do Smokey the Bear and Winnie the Pooh have in common?

…………..same middle name.

It’s a dumb joke, I know.  But becoming who God meant you to be and, setting the world on fire is not.

Keith

5-21-14

http://keithelder.com/

https://twitter.com/keitheldermusic

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“Malala… Born on Third Base…and Degree of Difficulty”

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“I am Malala!”

It is now the battle cry of millions of young women across the globe. A cry for freedom and justice. A call for the right to education and opportunity for girls in the face of the Taliban and oppressive forces everywhere.

When Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan, women commiserated with her mother.  Men gave no congratulatory words to her father.  Why?…because she was a girl.  But, her schoolteacher father says that, from the beginning, Malala was bright and inquisitive—particularly questioning why girls did not get to go to school like boys. In October of 2012, she was singled-out on a school bus full of young girls and shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Why?  Because this “girl”, at the age of fifteen, had become a threat.  A voice for change and justice.

Now, just twelve months after her shooting–after what doctors agree was a miraculous recovery—Malala has spoken before the UN General Assembly, been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, gone viral on youtube…and her story, “I Am Mahala”, released just this week, is already on the bestseller lists.

As I saw Malala interviewed by Diane Sawyer, my mind skipped to a comment made by Ann Richards during a run for governor of Texas.  Of course, she had no specific opponent in mind when she said, “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

The struggle of fighting its way out of the cocoon is necessary for a butterfly to become a butterfly.  There are moral muscles, muscles of conviction and compassion, which are developed only through adversity.  The privileged are rarely privy to them.  We remember the Malala stories.  The rich—with rare exception—are forgotten, because their stories are forgettable, unremarkable. Their one hope of glory is to stand with the Malalas of the world. (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates.)

In competitive diving, scoring is based on two factors: 1) a judges score of 1-10 for how well the dive is executed; and 2) the dive’s “degree of difficulty”. A simple forward dive has a degree of difficulty much less than, say, a back two-and-a-half somersault. Degrees range from 1.4 to 4.0.  So, even if both dives are perfect 10’s, the more difficult dive wins.

I’m giving Malala a perfect 10.0 after she started with a 4.0 degree of difficulty.  Way to go Malala! Your story comes in such stark contrast to what’s been going on in our nations capital.  Of course, 99% of those folks are at a disadvantage…

…they were born on third base.

–Keith   10-12-13

*  Want to read more about Malala?… http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-i-am-malala-by-malala-yousafzai/2013/10/11/530ba90a-329a-11e3-9c68-1cf643210300_story.html

website: http://keithelder.com/

“Picking the right song….”

One of my favorite parts about living in the Nashville area is the songwriter venues. For fear of neglecting one or showing preferential treatment to another, I will talk in general about these relatively small settings where songwriter-singers come nightly to bare their souls and share their songs with any and all who will listen.  

Now, any writer would like to pen the monster hit that pays off the mortgage or underwrites the songwriting addiction for years.  But the primal satisfaction comes in articulating a slice of life in such a way that people feel a connection. No easy task.  Religion (re-ligio), in the literal sense, is something that “ties us back together.”  We are fragmented in too many ways to mention, and religion is ultimately about bringing us back together. (Good luck with that.)  A great song is a religious experience.  It’s very cool when you’re in a room and you realize the room has become one around a song.

A songwriter “round” usually includes three to four writers sharing three or more songs each.  Fun, serious, familiar, brand new—song selection is totally up to the writer.  For me, the challenge of participating in a writer’s round is not the performance—it’s picking the right songs.

Factor-in the room.  Is it a focused listening venue where people come to hear songs, or is it a restaurant/bar setting with lots of distractions?  Consider the other writers.  Are they singing all ballads or all up-tempo pieces?  A little variety might be nice for the listeners’ sake.  Think about the audience demographic.  Is it old, young, college, other  (key question: what do they have on their i-pods…or their 8-track tape decks? :)) Now pick your songs.

A monster hit in one room may well be “da bomb” in another–and not in a good way.

The song selection process can be a cool metaphor for life.  Picking the right word for the right moment.  Knowing what conversations to have with which people.  Cultivating friendships that will be in the best interest of all.  Picking the right college…the right vocation…the right place to raise the kids… the right church or faith community…the right dream.

The magic is in the song selection…

So, choose wisely, Grasshopper.

Keith — 3/11/2013

 

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