ORPHAN HEROES

Thank you to everyone who participated in the spring round with us, or any round this year, or WAYkids. Your unique voice is essential to what we're creating. Thank you!

WAYfinding takes the summers off from groups. However, you'll still be hearing from us through the writings of fellow WAYfinders. Every week or two, a new post will be shared through the newsletter. Giving voice to a diversity of perspectives is a core value of WAYfinding's. Our summer community blog posts are one of the ways we practice this value.

We look forward to gathering again in September!

Jon Cracraft.Image.Title.png

| Jon Cracraft |

A major problem in the world is the dilemma of moral authoritarianism vs. moral relativism, or religious fundamentalism vs. religious relativism, or ethnocentrism vs cultural relativism, or what is it OK to be tolerant of and what is it not OK to be tolerant of and why, or when does it become OK to judge the behavior of different groups of people?

Was Andrew Jackson morally better than Adolf Hitler? Was Thomas Jefferson morally better than Joseph Stalin? How could anyone claim to make such moral judgements?

And yet, how can we refuse to make such moral judgements?

We should not tolerate sex trafficking or sweat shop labor or hate crimes or murder or robbery.

But should we tolerate vandalism? Should we tolerate public nudity? Should we tolerate political corruption? Should we tolerate sexist jokes? If we are going to allow ourselves to judge others, how do we know where to stop?

Is there an objective way to answer such questions? Is there a moral compass inside of us that tells us where to draw the line?

This is the dilemma of moral authoritarianism vs. moral relativism.

If there is a moral compass inside of us, it seems it is easily masked or broken by our own cultural bias.

How do we see our own bias? How do we remove it?

I don’t know.

But I’ve been thinking about these questions in the context of another question I’ve had about orphans and heroes and why so many heroes are orphans in folklore from around the world.

Perhaps people around the world tell stories about orphan heroes because they believe that orphans are more likely to accept heroic quests – because they have nothing holding them back, nothing to give up, nothing to lose. They also have no culture of their own – parents are universally recognized as the primary transmitters of culture to their children. Without cultural indoctrination from their parents, orphan heroes have no cultural bias – hence they have nothing to obscure or break their moral compass which is, in part, what helps them to succeed on their heroic quests.

So if we want to learn to see our cultural bias and to remove it, perhaps we can learn from the heroic orphans of folklore. Perhaps that which prevents us from seeing our own bias is the comfort of the home and our families and our fear of losing these things. Perhaps this is also what prevents us from taking leaps of faith, from embarking upon heroic quests and from following our dreams.

Maybe. Or maybe not. :)

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Jon has often felt caught searching for compromises between opposing forces and identities: mainstream vs counter-culture; materialism vs anti-materialism; commerciality vs spirituality; establishment vs revolution. After dropping out of graduate school, he wandered, lived on communes - eventually becoming a teacher at an alternative school. Upon moving back to Indianapolis, he was unexpectedly offered a management position by the regional agency for MassMutual, where he eventually became the director of financial planning. He is currently the director of client services for a local wealth management firm, C.H. Douglas & Gray. He lives with his wife and young daughter and son.

THE TRUE HOLISM OF HEALTH

| Anne Williamson | 

Watching Dan Buettner's 2011 TEDMED Talk on Blue Zones fills me with both relief and dread. In it, Buettner shares the key to health and vitality he's discovered through studying pockets of people around the world with the highest proportion of people who reach 100 (i.e. Blue Zones) as well as those rare communities who have improved their health and maintained it: the whole system must be addressed. Perhaps you now understand my contradictory response.

On the one hand, my health and vitality is not, cannot be, entirely in my hands. What a relief! Shame, be gone! On the other hand, my health and vitality is not entirely in my hands, meaning a whole system must be corrected! The Yiddish exclamation "oy vey" comes to mind. This is bound to be a complicated, lengthy process! Can we really change all the misguided systems and policies that affect our collective health in this country? Can we change culture? 

Sure. Of course we can. Culture is changing all the time. And, what I love about this particular collective calling is how beautifully the science mirrors our own growing spiritual intuition: we are all interconnected. I cannot be deeply healthy, truly whole, unless you are too. And, not just the "you" next door or half way around the world, but also the "you" generations from now; our interconnectedness is across time as well as geography. 

Is this reality more complicated, messy? Of course. But, it's also more beautiful and filled with meaning. Health and vitality is truly a holistic pursuit. I, for one, as part of the One, am glad.  


SPRING ROUND STARTS THIS WEEK!

Our spring round kicks off this week! Dan Buettner's TEDTalk as well as this article on how income inequality affects health will shape our conversation. In addition, we'll reflect personally on how fulfilled we currently are in nine interconnected, good health categories using the "Fulfillment Wheel" pictured. At the round's end, after addressing each category, we'll fill out the wheel again and see what's changed. It's going to be a great round! And, there is always more room at the table! If you are interested in joining the conversation, learn more and sign-up here. You are welcome to simply check a group out the first week or two; if it's not for you, no need to continue. 

FINDING PEACE & JOY, SIMPLY

| Anne Williamson | 

I am not the poster child for simple living. I don’t live in a tiny house in the woods off the grid. I don’t raise livestock, darn socks or knit. I enjoy eating out, and many nights, thank g/God for TV dinners. We own two cars and more stuff than we need.

This does not mean I don’t strive to live simpler. Over a span of 15 years, I have made significant changes in the way I live and interact with “stuff.” I started off making these changes out of concern for my fellow humans and our planet. I kept making changes because I found peace in doing so.

This peace has come not with any sort of “arrival” but through the journey of gradually eliminating some things so that other things may speak more freely, may take up more space, in my life....

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THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BLESS

| Chase Tibbs | 

The western hills of Pennsylvania were a wonderful place to grow up. I spent the first eighteen years of my life loved and supported by people who invested deeply in me. Some of you will undoubtedly resonate with my story. Some of you will not. Because, what I did not recognize were the other factors that played into my life. I did not see the privileges that brought my goals into closer reach.

In awakening to my privilege, I can’t say as soon as I realized it I was very comfortable with it. In fact, I’m still not. To be male, to be white, to be heterosexual, to be Protestant Christian, to be born into a middle class family, to be American; to say that these parts of me (and I say parts) are major influences of where I am today would not have made sense to me when I was growing up....

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COMING TO THE TABLE

| Chase Tibbs |

You can already feel the tension. The tug is coming from all sides. You feel you have to commit to one or the other. The middle ground is as grey as can be. And along with the wins, there are the losses that come with how you approach the conversations. On the one hand, if you don’t bring up conversation regarding the latest situation/news, aren’t you participating in the “quietness” around the current issue? On the other hand, if you bring up conversation on the current news, you may be risking your relationships because of your differing opinions and perspectives on said latest situation/news.

We live in a world where disagreeing is not tolerated. Multiple perspectives cannot find a harmonious community. Diversity in theologies and ideologies is unable to sit at the same table.

If only there was a handbook for conversation around the holidays when sitting with family and friends with whom we disagree...

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YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS SPEAKING

| Anne Williamson |

Recently, for an article coming out in October on WAYfinding, I was asked this question, "What's your ultimate goal?" My response: 

For me, one of the most interesting and important questions in life is: To what do you live faithfully?  Because, we all live faithfully to something. As theologian Paul Tillich would say, “We all have an Ultimate Concern.” You would think this would be a question we’d be encouraged to explore in school, at work, at home – since it impacts everything we do – but it’s generally not. Often, our Ultimate Concern develops and resides in our subconscious alone.  For me, this is no good. Our Ultimate Concern, that to which we live faithfully, needs to be drawn out and evaluated: Is it what you thought? Is it worthy of your whole life?

On a deep level, this is the point of WAYfinding: to help people discover an Ultimate Concern worthy of their whole life. And then, to help them learn to live faithfully to that Concern everyday, to learn to listen to it. This, to me, is faith, and it requires a kind of bravery and permission beyond the mandatory checking of certain belief boxes.

This, then, is why, in WAYfinding, our lens, our shared commitment, is not a statement of beliefs but a process. ...

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THE COURAGE TO BE

| Anne Williamson |

I am currently reading a book titled The Courage To Be by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. I'm not very far along. I can't yet say, definitively, what Tillich meant by his title. I like it regardless.

We do not live in a culture that makes it easy to be. Our culture screams, "Do!" and even "Fear!" So, I agree; I think it takes courage to be. It takes courage to still our minds and remember who we are, to remember we have access to, are part of, God - or whatever you call that which is bigger than self and draws you, us, to peace and wholeness. This takes courage.

This courage I seek, often, it helps me to speak it aloud. ...

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THE POWER OF PRESENCE

| David Barickman |

This summer I am working as a chaplain intern in a Clinical Pastoral Education program at a Catholic hospital in Indianapolis. This program is teaching me about many things. What I’m finding most insightful, though, is the power of presence. 

In just a few weeks, I have had the pleasure of spending time with patients from many different backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life. One thing all of these encounters shared in common was the importance of presence. It seems, no matter who we are, in crisis moments, we simply need someone with us, to hear our story, to see our tears, to share our pain, and not run away. 

For me, these have been holy moments. ...

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DO YOUR CORE BELIEFS & VALUES GUIDE YOUR LIFE?

| Jim Thorne | 

"The marvelous thing about learning from a story is that the story never ends, so our learning from it need not end either." - Parker Palmer

While at lunch with an acquaintance, he brought me up short with this question: “So, Jim, at your core, what are your deepest held beliefs and values and how do they influence your daily activities?” My first thought was, “Gosh, I thought this was just a friendly lunch.” My second thought was, “What a great question.”

In responding to the question, I realized it was not immediately clear to me what my core beliefs and values were. This was a wake-up call. I had a good sense of how I lived my life, but I found clearly articulating my beliefs and values difficult. I thought, “If they’re not clear to me, then they’re not fully influencing my daily activities.” My curiosity was awakened. ...

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I KNOW BETTER. NOW WHAT?

| Anne Williamson |

Bill Maher once said, "Everything that used to be a sin is now a disease." Interestingly, I don't know whether he said this in support or opposition of the shift. I assume he doesn't like the "religulous" word sin; and yet, I experience him as a strong believer - yes, believer - in personal responsibility, which "disease" diminishes.

Either way, remove "everything" from his statement - obviously Maher hasn't been to marriage counseling where absolutes are a major "no-no" - and it rings true. Liberal camps, even those of the religious persuasion, hate blaming sin on the sinner. Admittedly, I lean this direction too. Hang around me long enough and you're sure to hear me repeat Maya Angelou's famous words, "When you know better, you do better." 

The thing is, Maya's words aren't meant to "let us off the hook;" they're meant to call us to better....

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GREED

| ANNE WILLIAMSON |

When I hear the word greed, my body recoils. Shame is at least part of the reason. I may not be someone who perpetually wants more but I have early, hard-to-shake memories of feeling ashamed of the much more I already had. I recoil too because greed seems to be directly and indirectly responsible for so much pain: the Earth’s; the poor’s; women’s; even, when we begin to think spiritually, the pain of greed’s perpetuators.  

Nick Hanauer, one of our country’s .01% ers, agrees… in a way. His concern for he and his fellow plutocrats is not spiritual; it’s practical. In his TED Talk, Hanauer explains why the inevitable consequences of greed in the form of historically high income inequality will be an unstable democracy and less profitable businesses – realities bad for all. In Hanauer's view, this alone should compel us to end gross inequality; he doesn’t mind the moral argument; he simply thinks it unnecessary. 

I don’t agree....

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