Off-The-Map Board Meeting – Seattle, WA December 9th 2008

I had the privilege to be invited to join Jim Henderson, Todd Hunter, Tyler, Tim, Craig, Jeff and Bryan for the annual Off-The-Map board meeting this week (an 800+ mile round trip for me and my 15 month old black Lab Reggie — it was Reggie’s first board meeting and first road trip over three hours. He had a great time).

Jim and the Off-The-Map community have been a huge blessing to me and mine over the last several years. I am quite confident this will continue. OTM is in the process of developing a new leadership team.

It was such a breath of fresh air to be amongst such a bright, energetic, visionary group of people. The future is bright for OTM and ….it will be different.

The concept of “Nice” came up in conversation and I told Tim I would share a few of my my favorite quotes about the term:

Niceness – wholesome, integrated personality – is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice;’ just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save.“(1)

“Jesus offers no “cheap grace.”  He does not call you to be a nice believer.  He calls you to committed discipleship.” (2)

“The moment God is figured out with nice, neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up. And if we made him up, then we are in control.” (3)

“We must therefore not be surprised if we find among Christians some people who are still nasty. There is even, when you come to think it over, a reason why nasty people might be expected to turn to Christ in greater numbers than nice ones. That was what people objected to about Christ during His life on earth: He seemed to attract ‘such awful people.’ That is what people still object to and always will.” (4)

The concept of counting came up as well. It reminded me of this quote from Charles Handy:

“The first step is to measure whatever can be easily counted. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that which can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that which can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.” (5)

I am looking forward to receiving Todd’s new book, Christianity Beyond Belief – Following Jesus For The Sake of Others.

I am going to continue to count on the nice, kind, smart folks in the Off-The-Map community to continue to count in my life. Perhaps, you’ll consider exploring the same.

Thanks for including me in this forum.

Bill

NOTES

(1) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco – A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, (c) 1952,

(2) Campolo, Tony.  You can make a Difference-High voltage Living in a Burned out world, W Publishing Group Nashville, TN Copyright © 1984 by Anthony Campolo, P.6

(3) Bell, Rob Velvet Elvis-Repainting The Christian Faith, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI Copyright © 2005 by Rob Bell, p.25

(4) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFranciscoA Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, (c) 1942, p. 213

(5) Handy, Charles The Age of Paradox Harvard Business School Press © 1994 p. 221

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Book Review: Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman

Image from Google™

When you dive into the latest work of a three time Pulitzer Prize winner, you begin with the question of whether or not the author really has something substantive to contribute, or if they have reached the stage in their literary career where they are simply fulfilling the quota of books they signed up for in their last contract. Yes, I have been burned by the works of big name authors who can garner $27.95 per book.

Hot, Flat and CrowdedWhy We Need A Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America is a work that indicates Friedman remains one of the best thinkers, strategists and authors of our time regarding social policy and geo-political strategy development. Frankly, some authors are gifted in observing and conveying what most people cannot see, hear or comprehend. Friedman does exactly that in this book.

He writes:

The future does not have to be a Malthusian nightmare — if we think strategically about how to mitigate what we can, adapt to what we can’t, and innovate our ways to new possibilities that right now seem unimaginable. The longer we wait to set out on such a strategic path though, the deeper the pail out of which we will have to climb.

[i]

Friedman cares deeply about the current state of the U.S. and it’s future. Pay particular attention to this theme in the first chapter entitled, “Where Birds Don’t Fly.”

The essence of the entire book, embracing the challenge in moving to what he refers to as a Clean Energy System is truly captured in a quote Friedman shares (p.265) from Machiavelli’s The Prince:

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents — who have the laws on their side — and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.

Hot, Flat and Crowded is clearly a work that was years in the making. It is a clarion call to action.Honestly, it, in my opinion, is Friedman’s best book. It is in my top 5 for 2008. Finally, I am reminded of a quote from another author that is poignant as it relates to the impact of this work:

We need voices of dissent that point to another way, creative models that take exception to the givens of society. Obviously, prophetic simplicity runs the risk of excess; but the danger is no greater than the excess of the status quo.“(ii)

A tremendous contribution. Thank you Mr. Friedman.
NOTES:

[i] Friedman, Thomas A. Hot, Flat & Crowded- Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, Copyright © 2008 Farrar, Straus & Giroux New York, NY p. 49.

[ii]Foster, Richard J. Freedom of Simplicity, HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, CA Copyright 1981 by Richard J. Foster, p. 135

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Beyond Peanuts and Pretzels

I always pray when I get on an airplane. My prayer is for safe travel. After the plane takes off and we reach cruising altitude, I begin to pray another prayer. It starts when the flight attendant in the first class cabin shuts the drapes that separate first class from coach.

My prayer is please send someone else this time Lord. Please. In the past several years, God has chosen not to answer this prayer. “Here they come again! It’s the peanuts and pretzel patrol.

Can you imagine having a business where thousands of times everyday you have your customers as a physically captive audience? You have the opportunity to feed them something as an expression of your gratitude for their business. You decide to give them a bag of peanuts or pretzels (rarely both or more than one bag per person). Why? Who made this decision? Do you know how this makes us feel? What sense does this make?

How do I get over my disappointment? Every time I get a bag of peanuts or pretzels on an airplane, I use it as an opportunity to praise God saying: “Thank you Lord for the nourishment only You provide that is so dynamically superior to peanuts & pretzels. I am grateful Lord that you nourish us from your love and abundance, no matter what the cost.”

Thank you Jesus for treating us like loved ones rather than expenses, burdens, nuisances, cattle or inconveniences. Approach the Lord today hungry for the nourishment that only He can provide. I am grateful that I am truly someone in your eyes. Ours is not the God who serves nourishment of peanuts & pretzels to the beloved. Be kind to flight attendants. They’re just serving what someone gave them to share with us.  Pray for the airlines….and the people employed by the U.S. auto companies while you’re at it.

I adore this quote from C.S. Lewis:

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.

[i]


[i] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, HarperSanFranciscoA Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, (c) 1940, p. 34

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An Update from Bill Dahl

Well, here we go.

Welcome to the new BillDahl.net blog. This blog provides a new platform for sharing  Bill’s writing and photography in one place. So many people have shared their desire to comment on Bill’s writing and photography that we are very pleased to migrate to this blog format that integrates the written word with photographic images ( wherever possible ) to accommodate your requests. We have transferred the bulk of Bill’s writing from the old BillDahl.net website, as well as The Porpoise Diving Life.com website to this site. Explore and Enjoy!
Bill remains dedicated to creating dialogue in a world gone different.

As many folks know, I have taken a sabbatical in 2008 from writing (for the most part). I am recharged and very excited about 2009. Some of the writings you will see from me in 2009 include:

1. Books – One for certain, the other is a distinct possibility within the year.

2. Writings, poems and songs from the perspective of those who do not have a voice during this time of unprecedented economic malaise and chaos.

3. Other authors – Encouraging and working with other emerginf authors who have some superb works under development, assisting them in crafting their manuscripts and ideas.

4. Ideas – Consulting (gratis) with non-profits and others who are seeking to transform themselves in the midst of a riptide of socio-economic change.

5. Bridges – Building bridges in the inter-faith arena.

6. Book reviews – Although I have read a ton in 2008, I remain dedicated to reviewing pre-pub manuscripts and early realease new books.

7. I will remain an outspoken voice for U.S. immigration reform, particularly from the perspective of the children and young adults caught in the midst of this morass.

8. Assisting people to realize entrepreneurial faith breakthroughs via the ability to think differently and then carry out a strategic plan accomplish just that.

Special Thanks to David Dear at Setwise Technology in Newport Beach, CA for all the technical help. Without David’s expertise, this just wouldn’t be possible.

Enjoy.

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The Little Ones

Little One
Little One

Mommy and Daddy had a fight today.
It was really loud – in a most unusual way.
I heard them very clearly,
Every word they had to say.

My little brother came running in,
Tears of fear ran down his left cheek.
He jumped up on my lap,
Startled, afraid, innocent and meek.

“We can’t make ends meet!”
We heard daddy yell.
“I can’t live like this!” he shouted.
“This economy’s gone to hell!”

We could hear mommy,
Sobbing in depression,
“What are we going to do?
To survive this recession.”

We peeked out my bedroom door,
Daddy hugged Mommy tight.
He ran his hand through her hair,
Comforting her plight.

Dad just got laid off,
Mom works just part time.
The best parents in the world.
This recession – it’s a crime.

“Our savings are all gone,
I wish we could borrow.
All our credit lines are maxed.”
He shared with mom in sorrow.

“The equity in the house;
It’s gone or going south.
“We’re going to lose our home,”
He raised his hand, covering his mouth.”

“Bailing out Wall Street!
Billions for the largest banks.
Rescuing sub-prime borrowers.
Where’s the help for families in our ranks?”

My mom and dad used to be happy,
The joy was delirious.
We had so much fun together,
Now it’s way too serious.

When your house is worth –
less than what you owe.
Why should mom & dad keep paying?
Why don’t we just pack up and go?

Dad:”We can’t even sell,
With all the homes on the market.”
Families in mainstream America,
We’re the bulls eye in the target.”

Mom: “Should we sell the house,
We’ll get a 1099.
We’ll owe the IRS —
This law’s outlived it’s time.”

Dad: “Friends and relatives are hurting.
What’s a family to do?
Does Congress understand our predicament?
Will they come to our rescue?”

Mom: “With our health insurance gone,
We cannot get sick.
Don’t spend any money whatsoever,
Until this economy begins to click.”

Mom burst out in tears,
My little brother began to cry.
As I reached out to comfort him,
I caught my daddy’s eye.

Mom and dad surrounded us,
We hugged on my bedroom floor.
“Please help our family —
We can’t take this anymore!”

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