Tag Archives: faith

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian McLaren – A Book Review

McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY


 

A Review by Bill Dahl

In the Foreword to the book entitled, Mis-Measuring Our Lives,[i] France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy[ii] wrote:

The time to change our trajectory is now. Amidst all these difficulties we cannot rest content with reacting on a day to day basis; we will not recover from the crisis with just ad hoc solutions…the only thing that will save us is unchaining our minds so as to gather the strength to make the necessary changes. The only thing that will save us is unchaining our minds so as to free ourselves from conformism, conservatism and short sighted interests….such a revolution is inconceivable without deeply challenging the way we represent the challenges of what we undertake, the results of what we do.”[iii]

Although writing in two, somewhat different contexts to a global audience, one underlying theme of McLaren’s new book, The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian is the uncanny parallel with Sarkozy’s tremarks above:

  1. The time to change the trajectory of the worldwide Christian faith is now.
  2. Christians must unchain their minds.
  3. A revolution in Christianity must include deeply challenging the way Christians represent the challenges they undertake, how they behave, and the results of what they do.

McLaren writes:

The Christian faith needs to be radically converted to a new fuel. We need to be energized by something other than beliefs; because beliefs are not the point.” Not the point? That’s not to say beliefs are insignificant. They are powerfully significant, for better or worse.”[iv]

The author then launches into some superb examples of how specific Christian beliefs have led to unfortunate historical and current day outcomes. McLaren envisions the migration like this:

“Must we stay where we are, forever defining ourselves as a system of beliefs, or may we migrate to a new understanding of Christian faith as a way of life, (emphasis is mine), a practice of ongoing personal growth and cultural evolution ?[v]

McLaren then turns to the life of Jesus as the example of what he refers to as the way of love; a life embodying love, mercy, compassion, reconciliation, community, solidarity, friendship, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, love for neighbor, the other, the earth  and humanity.

McLaren’s thesis is a call to what I refer to as “re-belief.” He makes the distinction between beliefs and faith as follows:

“Beliefs are commonly defined as opinions or judgments about which a person is fully persuaded. Although beliefs generally cannot be proven they are treated among believers as certainties, perhaps not as absolute certainties, but as certain enough that they aren’t up for questioning (statements that a group requires members to and not question or contradict. In contrast, faith is conviction, the deep and motivating sense that a course of action is right and worth doing…a conviction (faith) lived out in the context of uncertainty, involving risk, proceeding not through certainty but through confidence (hope) and expressed through love.”[vi]

McLaren goes on to share very personal examples of his own journey “seeking to conform to the way of Christ by willing to rethink”[vii] the beliefs he was saddled with at certain points in his life. These examples are poignant and powerful, demonstrating walking the talk. This concludes the first section of the book entitled “spiritual migration.”

The second part of the book delves into the essential “theological migration’ where McLaren addresses the issue of the conception of God as a violent God of domination versus a nonviolent God of liberation. He dives into the history of “justifiable homicide,” (my term), violence, prejudice domination, subjugation and “un-love” perpetrated in the name of the faith. He lays out a rational, logical narrative as to how these outcomes are related to our conception of God, our reading of the Bible (literal vs. literary) and other causal factors. He suggests an approach consistent with the way of love.

McLaren titles the third section of the book The Missional Migration. – the transition from organized religion to organizing religion. His focus is on moving away from the extractive, consumptive and unsustainable way of life that is destroying both civilization and planet. In this sense, the migration McLaren is calling for is moving from a “religion organized for self-preservation and privilege to a religion organizing for the common good of all.”[viii] This section contains innumerable practical examples of exactly what some of those beliefs and behaviors for might look like for modern day Christians, modeled by the life of Jesus.

The book contains superb lists of questions at the end of each chapter and three appendices to guide individual readers and groups into further discussion, contemplation and a guide to the behavioral migration to the way of love.

Admittedly, I have read every book Brian McLaren has penned. I have met him on several occasions and enjoyed his presence. His life, mind and passions are inspirational to me on a personal level. As one who is self-described as widely read on the topic(s) of faith and culture, this particular book stands out to me, for several reasons:

  1. As we age, the proximity and reality of the light at the end of this earthly life becomes tangibly more apparent. In this book, it is clear to me that Brian McLaren is no exception to this truth. The passion, compassion, and love for the Christian faith, Jesus, his followers and institutions erected in His name are all distinctly expressed here (as they have been, in my opinion), throughout the author’s lifetime.
  2. There is a rather unique sense of urgency expressed by McLaren in this book. Perhaps, this too, emanates from A. above.
  3. The vision McLaren lays out in this particular writing, is accompanied by a roadmap to guide both individuals and institutions (as he has done in several previous books). However, this particular roadmap is informed by specific global and cultural imperatives where spectating just won’t cut it anymore. The urgency of global challenges (and the state of the Christian faith) demands concurrent, immediate changes in individual and group behavior to positively inform, and re-direct the trajectory of those current challenges.

For me, this book is an urgent call for the faith and the faithful to immediately engage in the process of what has been referred to as de-illusionment. I believe it is also a deeply personal  sharing of McLaren’s actual life journey whereby de-illusionment has been an incredibly important aspect of his development as a person, his relationship with Jesus, and voice for his cherished faith. In this sense, the term de-illusionment is defined in the following:

As he attempts to reappraise his life, a man discovers how much it has been based on illusions, and he is faced with the task of de-illusionment. By this expression I mean a reduction of illusions, a recognition that long held assumptions and beliefs about self and world are not true. This process merits special attention because illusions play so vital a role in our lives throughout the life cycle.”[ix]

There is much here for those involved in organized communities of faith. Clearly, McLaren has not abandoned his deep respect and love for the church, in its myriad of forms, wherever it may be found. In this work, McLaren maintains his ongoing “within-stitutional” (my term) voice, echoing through the corridors of organized religion. The value of the book is also for those with no current church attendance and/or denominational commitment. Yet, if I had one recurring longing during my consumption of this work, it was the resurging hope that Brian McLaren pens a fiction work in the near future; one that may embody what carrying out the vision shared in this book, just might look like…

Read Brian McLaren’s The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian. May you end up where I did, embracing McLaren’s call for V’yisa’u! – To get going, go forward, go farther, NOW!

May “finger by finger, the fist of your little heart be pulled open, where a new depth of naked, essential faith in God mysteriously become possible.”[x]

Buy this book. Share a copy with a friend. Engage in the dialog it compels. Introduce it to your faith community. Unchain your mind. Accept the permission and invitation to re-belief. Begin the essential process of de-illusionment.

V’yisa’u!


 

 

NOTES:

[i] Stiglitz, Joseph E., Se, Amartya ans Fitoussi, Jean-Paul Mismeasuring Our Lives – Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up – The Report By The Commission on The Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, Copyright (c) 2010 , The New Press New York, NY Excerpts that make up this quote are compiled from pages vii, xv.

[ii] Nicolas Sarkozy was the President of France from 2007-2012.

iii McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 31.

iv McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 42.

[vi] McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 45

[vii] McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 40.

[viii] McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 153.

[ix] Levinson, Daniel J., The Seasons Of A Man’s Life, New York: Ballantine Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1978, p.192. This sociological classic was one of the first longitudinal studies of how people’s beliefs and perceptions change throughout the life cycle.

[x] McLaren, Brian D. – The Great Spiritual Migration – How The World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian,  Copyright (c) 2016 by Brian D. McLaren Convergent Books, an Imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. p. 203.

 

 

The Wild Goose Festival – WEST – 2012 – Images by Bill Dahl

The following are  links to the images of the recent Wild Goose Festival WEST held in Corvallis, Oregon August 31st through September 2nd 2012. Photography is by Bill Dahl.

Should you desire a specific image, please let me know at dahlbill (at) gmail (dot) com. I only ask that NO images NOT be used for commercial purposes (unless permission is otherwise granted in writing) and that you give Bill Dahl the attribution. (“Photography by Bill Dahl” with a link ( if possible ) to this site).

I hope you enjoy the following…click SLIDESHOW after you click any link below:

1. The PEOPLE of The Wild Goose Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The CHILDREN of The Wild Goose Festival (aka Wild Goslings)

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The ART of the Wild Goose Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Music and Musicians of The Wild Goose Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Nature that inhabits The Wild Goose Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Some of the Speakers and Sponsors of The Wild Goose Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. 1-6 Above – The Wild Goose Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

What is The Wild Goose Festival all about? (excerpt below from their site):

 

 

 

The Wild Goose is a Celtic spirituality metaphor that evokes unpredictability, beauty, and grace. The festival resonates with this image because we recognize that in the current climate of religious and political division and lack of civility, embracing the creative and open nature of our faith is perhaps our greatest asset for re-building and strengthening our relationships with each other, with our enemies, with our stories, our questions, and the other. In that spirit, in an informal setting, and in the context of creative and respectful relationships, we invite you to imagine a new world with us.

Here’s an intro video from Wild Goose:

Comments are always appreciated.

An Interview with Thomas Peele – Author of “Killing The Messenger” – by Bill Dahl

Killing The Messenger – A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist  — Crown Publishers – an imprint  of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright (c) 2012 by Thomas Peele.

Thomas Peele

Thomas Peele (from his website) is an an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group, publishers of The Contra Costa Times, The San Jose Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune and other papers surrounding San Francisco, where he specializes in data collection and analysis. He’s also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, co-teaching a class on public-records reporting. He’s won more than 50 journalism awards, for long-term investigations of government corruption, the environment, casino gambling and murders to a story in the first person voice of a Christmas tree waiting to be bought on Christmas Eve. Thomas Peele is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience on both coasts. Since 2000, he has been an investigative reporter for the 23 newspapers of the Singleton-owned Bay Area News Group.

He has won numerous awards for his work, including the 2007 Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Renner Award for the Chauncey Bailey Project, and from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for his pursuing Freedom of Information inquiries. He is a winner of the McGill Medal of Journalistic Courage. You can read the McGill Award article here.

He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Long Island University and a master’s in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.

Tom is represented by Elizabeth Evans at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

Truly outstanding works of literature spawn curiosity, questions and spontaneous dialog. The stories of story-tellers (the great one’s anyway) – emit certain mysterious energies that impact me as I am reading — and somehow — stick with my soul after I have finished. Thomas Peele’s “Killing The Messenger” is distinctly one of those rare works of investigative journalism possessing both these attributes…and MORE!!!

In my opinion, Peele’s work is worthy of very serious consideration for a Pulitzer Prize. Furthermore, the major motion picture studio execs should be pounding on the door of his agent – negotiating for the movie rights…I’d be one of the first in line to see this film…along with millions of others.

A few weeks after consuming this book, it continued to ricochet through my soul. I contacted Tom. He gracefully agreed to the following interview with me – that illuminate a few of the myriad of issues that this work lays bare. As you can see from the interview below, Peele’s work has tremendous practical application and implications regarding a number of complex and challenging issues that are alive and well today. I hope you enjoy the following interview with Tom Peele. BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Q-1 — Every author receives a ton of questions regarding their most recent work. Oftentimes, the questions are terribly redundant. What is the one (or two) question(s) that people have not asked about “Killing The Messenger,” that you have wished they would. Please share the question(s) and your response(s):

A1A – (Q) What was your writing process like?

My deal was not structured so that I could take a book leave from my newspaper job. I also work as a part-time university lecturer, so every minute counted. I got up most mornings and 5 and worked until 9 and then went to my regular jobs. I tried to squeeze out an hour or two every night. Weekends were pretty much devoted to the project, at least all day Saturday and half of Sunday. But as any writer knows, the process is never really turned off. I was constantly writing notes to myself wherever I went. It was intense. No vacation for three years – at least not a legitimate vacation that was not a research trip or just days holed up in my writing room. There is an old saying that writers must learn to write when they don’t want to write. It is, of course, quite true.

(Q-2) As a first time author, what is your impression of the book publishing industry?

A better question might be what is the book publishing industry’s impression of me? I work in newspapers, where things are pretty much a constant state of rough and tumble and where people communicate with each other with great amount of intellectual honesty, if not brutal honesty.  I learned the hard way how off-putting it is to people in book publishing to be addressed bluntly, or unenthusiastically. I regret not adapting more quickly to their world than bringing mine with me. I certainly made mistakes I hope to avoid on another book. My deal occurred when the publishing industry is under tremendous strain. Borders went bankrupt. Amazon bulled its way into E-book publishing, not just sale. It is a tumultuous time. I think it is a very open question as to whether print books will survive in a meaningful way. I live in a house full of books and I rooting openly, against E-books. Traditional book publishers like mine, Crown, which is wonderful outfit, need to survive, as do independent bookstores.

Q-3 — The murder of Chauncey Bailey occurred on August 2, 2007. “Killing The Messenger” was published in 2012. It seems that you began doing research on the possibility of this book in 2007 (p.367). It appears you made the decision to move forward with the book after your dinner with Lisa Catherine Harper and Kory Heinzen in January 2009 (“write the Bailey book” – p. 367 – Acknowledgments). Thus, one might surmise that it took you 4+ years to conduct the research that culminated in the book. Please comment on what “inhabits the being” of investigative journalists like yourself, to dedicate such a span of one’s lifetime to telling a story. Please talk about the internal debates you had with yourself, how you may have been “Unable to shake it,” times you felt overwhelmed, THREATENED, afraid, difficult to live with, the sacrifices one has to make (including family members) etc.

What I was doing since Aug. 2, 2007 was newspaper reporting on Mr. Bailey’s death with a consortium of other journalists. The book grew out of that massive effort and much of it was based on. When I decided in January 2009 to write the book, a great deal of the research was done in the form of the reportage.

I think what “inhabits the being” of an investigative reporter is a sense of righteous indignation, if not outright anger. In this case, I and others were angry that a reporter had been killed and intended to something about it, just as journalists did something about the 1976 murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles. We felt duty bound to send the message on behalf of our profession that “you can’t kill a story by killing a reporter.” If we were going to be true to journalism and the First Amendment that protects it, we really had no choice but to do the work and see the story through. Bailey’s murder burned at the souls of the reporters who investigated it.

In a similar way, I believe I had a duty to write the book. It was not really a choice, it was a responsibility. As I said earlier, my book deal was structured as such that I could not take a leave of absence from my newspaper job, so I got up at 5 a.m. seven days a week to research and write. I suffered a repetitive stress injury to my left arm that left me nearly unable to lift it. My health suffered in other ways. My marriage suffered greatly to the point it nearly ended. My twin daughters, who were born a few months into the book-writing process and only days after Yusuf Bey IV was finally charged with Bailey’s murder, went without me for significant pieces of time. I was an incredibly difficult person to deal with, to be around, and also wracked with self doubt (could I possibly write a book on tight deadline that would be any good at all?) and fear that the subjects of the book would retaliate against me the way they retaliated against Mr. Bailey. I had a lot of nightmares, to be honest, often nightly.

My wife is incredible. She got through it, somehow, with twins in tow. A lot of lesser people would have split, there is no other way to put it. We fought a lot, she went through an extended period of hating the book. So did I. Not everyone survived unscathed.  My agent recently informed me she won’t represent me on another project, which is a tremendous loss to me. I was hard on everyone.

Q-4 — It has been said that “hopelessness is the birthplace of every form of extremism.” Can you opine on this phrase as it relates to what you learned in writing “Killing The Messenger – A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and The Assassination of a Journalist?”

The people who formed the Nation of Islam in Detroit during the early 1930s had no hope. As the depression tightened around them like a noose around a neck, they suffered repeated dehumanization and indignities. Michigan had more than 100,000 active Klansman. Food and jobs were scarce. And here came this con man, W. D. Fard, challenging everything that people in the ghetto believed, who their true God was, where their lost roots could be found, even what they ate. He told them to hate their oppressors. But his religion, which he claimed to be Islam, was a false one. It was extreme to the point of tales of space ships and fables about made scientists who created Caucasians and Jews through genetic experiments. Had people any other form of hope, humanity or dignity available to them, I doubt they would have embraced the belief system Fard foisted on them.

Q-5 — There is an ongoing debate about the nature of man (good v. evil duality). After writing this book, did your view concerning the nature of man shift considerably? If so, how so? Did you ever “meet evil face to face?” during the research/writing of the book? “I could hear him laughing” (Broussard p. 366).

Yusuf Bey IV was as close to evil as I got, interviewing him once in jail and observing him closely for hundreds of hours in court and listening to hundreds of hours of his jail phone calls after obtaining recordings of them. I tried not to let my delving of his life and beliefs  change any of my opinions about the human race. People have committed evil acts from the beginning of the human race and will continue to do so. Yet a tremendous majority of us live lives in which we don’t steal and kill and maim.

Q-6 — In my view, Your Black Muslim Bakery could be accurately characterized as a cult. What, in your opinion, are the essential ingredients required to produce a cult of this nature?

Isolation and a charismatic leader, yet one who is both loved and feared. It also requires extremely damaged, or plainly ignorant people. The Beys attracted very poor, embittered people who suffered lives of poverty and dehumanization. Yusuf Bey (the elder) also ruled his followers with absolute authority. Several women later testified that they feared he would kill them if they disobeyed his orders, which included presenting young girls to him for sex. Bey was once observed committing a rape and two days later the person who made that observation was found dead. Cult members both loved and feared him, that was the key to his power.

Q-7 — There are those (particularly Baby Boomers who lived through the civil rights movement in the U.S.) – who suggest that the state of racism in the U.S. is vastly better than it used to be. There are others who suggest that the current expression of racism (behaviors, depth and breadth) has simply become more veiled, maintaining its breadth and depth in the U.S. Can you comment on what your view of the current state/character of racism in the U.S.?

I believe that racism, especially in veiled forms, remains, very real in the U.S. One has to look not just at the death of Trayvon Martin killing but it’s aftermath to see it. The right attacks immediate criticism by people of color about Martin’s death, stereotyping him as a thug because he was wearing a hood. Yet, Martin’s killing was, in many ways, just another sorry occurrence in hundreds of years of oppression and terror.

Q-8 — Bart D. Ehrman Ph.D. has recently said in an interviewIf I am opposed to anything, it is fundamentalism in its various guises. In terms of the Bey’s organization and “faith” how would you characterize the genesis of this form of “fundamentalist faith?” In other words, was the faith produced a product/outgrowth of primarily racism, power, struggle for identity, control, ego, acceptance, hatred, and money? Or did the former (‘nature of faith’) produce the latter? Can you talk about your view of the interaction of these variables as it relates to the Bey’s “faith development” in “Killing The Messenger?”

Bey’s faith was the faith of opportunity. It was his path to power, wealth and sex, the things he craved. To achieve those things, he stuck to the very fundamental dogma that the founders of his religion had employed 70 years earlier. I interviewed a Nation of Islam historian who had viewed tapes of Bey’s sermons. His response was what “a throwback” Bey was – how his teachings had never progressed beyond the NOI’s fundamental dogma. Fueling hate made it easier for Bey to maintain control over his followers and ensure their loyalty. Their loyalty, in turned, allowed hm to accumulate wealth and power. The more fundamental within his teachings he remained, the more he achieved.

Q-9 — According to David Garrow in his book, “Bearing The Cross – Martin Luther King Jr. and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference” – Dr. King met with Elijah Muhammad in Chicago (p.465 — Taylor Branch characterizes the same meeting in his book, At Canaan’s Edge pp.440-441). Although Dr. King had condemned the Nation of Islam’s “anti-white rhetoric” – Garrow characterizes their meeting as “cordial” and contends that Elijah Muhammad reacted favorably toward the civil rights movement’s efforts to “eradicate slums” (P. 466). This meeting occurred in 1966. Chauncey Bailey was murdered in 2007. Fourth and Mackey were sentenced in August 2011. Here’s the question; What is the state of the slums in Oakland, CA today, in your view?

Oakland is a sprawling, dysfunctional city. Slums continue to exist, especially in East Oakland. The city lacks the funding for full basic services – enough police on the streets, the repair of potholes – let alone the eradication of poverty. California remains in a deep budget crisis that will only worsen the plight of its poorer cities and school districts. Oakland’s police department could soon fall under federal control because of years of mismanagement. None of these things are going to help the slums.

Q-10 – Elijah Muhammad (formerly Elijah Poole) and Dr. King were both the son’s of preachers from Georgia. Taylor Branch describes Elijah Muhammad’s early years as an admitted “whooping Baptist.” (At Canaan’s Edge – p. 441). King became the champion of non-violence and racial equality while Elijah Muhammad advocated violence and characterized Caucasians as “white devils.” How can two people who come from distinctly similar childhoods become so diabolically dissimilar adults?

King seized opportunities to become an educated person, Poole did not. King’s father was an established minister within a formal church structure. Poole’s father was traveling lay preacher in the back woods. Poole ended up in the dehumanizing ghetto’s of Detroit, grasping for any answer to explain his plight. It should also be noted that physiological examinations of Poole (by then Muhammad) when he was in prison in the 1940s showed he had the cognitive abilities of an 11 year old.

Q-11 — The myriad acts of brutal, senseless, horrific violence (in all its forms) characterized in “Killing The Messenger” – committed by the Bey’s or their followers shocked me. Honestly, I had to put the book down and walk away for a bit to clear my soul…I was also shocked about the culture of the Oakland Police Dept. – their lethargy. Can you please talk about how the culture of the Oakland P.D. at the time – contributed to the willingness to take the violent risks that were taken by the Bey’s and their cult. Can you opine about how things have/have not changed at the Oakland P.D. since say, 2011?

The Oakland Police Department did not challenge the Beys for years. It is a department with a brutal and intolerant culture, a legacy of the sixties and seventies when Oakland was ruled by an ultra-conservative political oligarchy. It is also a department that historically lacks the number of personnel and equipment needed to adequately police the city. A recent reform minded police chief quit mid-contract in frustration. The threat of a federal takeover remains real. And the police’s conduct during Occupy Wall Street protests have resulted in assaults and injuries to members of the public. In truth, little has changed.

Q-12 — Have you received any threats to your safety since the book came out?

No, I haven’t received any threats.

Q-13 — What are the two primary lessons you hope your journalistic work in “Killing The Messenger” sends to those who are contemplating a career in investigative reporting?

That documentation is the key to all good reporting and that this particular line of work is not for everyone drawn to journalism. It takes time, patience and resourcefulness.

Q-14 — News coverage, reporting, journalism, writing, investigative reporting and the entirety of the publishing industry is in the midst of tremendous change. Clay Shirky Distinguished Writer in Residence in the Journalism Dept. at the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (also contributor to the NY Times, WSJ, The Times (London). Wired, Business 2.0 and the Harvard Business Review) has written “And today, the revolution is centered on the shock of the inclusion of amateurs as producers, where we no longer need to ask for help or permission from professionals to say things in public.” (The Cognitive Surplus – Creativity and Generosity In A Connected Age – 2010 – The Penguin Press NY,NY p. 52). While Mr. Shirky’s observation is clearly valid, it is a two-sided coin. In terms of your interaction with students at the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism or SFSU (and elsewhere) – what concerns do you have (if any) about the future of your craft ( learning the creative disciplines of research, writing, and reporting ) whereby many are no longer seeking the skill development they require from either formal education or mentorship by persons in your field?

Now, everyone thinks their smartphone makes them a journalist. Some students view journalism as easy, as if they don’t have to think their way through each moment and that they don’t require cornerstone skills – such as the ability to dig through public records – to be successful. While the delivery method of journalism have changed, the basic who, what, when, where, and why have not. Yet there is not the same emphasis on basic journalistic skills as there was a decade ago. Students also don’t seem be to be able to differentiate (or care) about the difference between opinion and fact.

Q-15 — When will we see the book about your “tour of duty as a reporter in Atlantic City, NJ (also your Master’s thesis)?”

I haven’t really given it a lot of thought. I am not sure it is a book I remain interested in publishing and my energies right now are concentrated on promoting Killing the Messenger.

Q-16 — In your opinion, do conditions currently exist in the U.S. where cults like YBMB can still be spawned?

Yes. Unemployment, poor public schools and the way college has become unaffordable for so many all contribute to such conditions. As the poor grow poorer and class warfare becomes more common, the possibility of extremism grows. So do high levels of intolerance for the opinions, conditions and even the ethnicity of others which appear, sadly, to again be on the rise.

From Bill Dahl: Again, this book exudes Pulitzer Prize throughout each and every chapter! Buy this book!!!

P.S. Hollywood Major Motion Picture Studio ExecsWhoever garners the movie rights to Killing The Messenger has a blockbuster on their hands…Wake up and call Thomas Peele or his agent!!!

My most sincere thanks to Thomas Peele.

Stumbling Toward Heaven by Mike Hamel –

STUMBLING Toward Heaven

Hamel, Mike – Stumbling Toward Heaven, Published by EMT Communications, LLC Colorado Springs, CO Copyright © 2011 by Mike Hamel. Available April 1, 2011.

“The ‘C’ word typically evokes ‘F’ words: Fear, Flight, Fate, Freak,  or Failure – from sufferers, families and friends alike. In Stumbling Toward Heaven, Mike Hamel rises above it all with an incredibly useful and unique approach; he’s funny – and I mean really funny. Mike is a fabulous storyteller – capturing the essence of how one of life’s many tragic realities cause us to re-examine the frailties of our faith. You don’t have to be afflicted or affected by cancer to derive practical benefits from this book. The occurrence of the unexpected is an experience we all share in this life. It takes a gifted writer like Mike Hamel to help us make sense of it all…and have some laughs along the way.  Prescription: Buy This Book!

Bill Dahl

You can follow Mike’s blog at www.mikehamel.wordpress.com

“Faith” in unprecedented times (?)

“Faith” in Unprecedented Times…a contemplation

Photography by Bill Dahl - ALL Rights Reserved 2010
Photography by Bill Dahl - ALL Rights Reserved 2010

In these unprecedented economic times , what might faith mean?  Theologian Brian McLaren suggests:

“Faith involves admitting with humility and boldness that we need to change, to go against the flow, to be different, to face and shine the light on our cherished illusions and prejudices, and to discover new truths that can be liberating even though they may be difficult for the ego, painful to the pride.” (1)

From the above, we can see that the faith required to reimagine creating tomorrow today involves a multi-dimensional approach. Let me explain:

(1) It requires admission – a confession, if you will.

(2) The nature of this admission is twofold: it must be humble and bold.

In terms of the humility dimension of this matter, the following from Rabbi Harold Kushner speaks to the heart of the matter:

“being human is such a complicated challenge that all of us will make mistakes in the process of learning how to do it right, then we can come to see our mistakes not as emblems of our unworthiness but as experiences we can learn from. We will be brave enough to try something new without being afraid of getting it wrong. Our sense of shame will be the result of our humility, our learning our limits, rather than our wanting to hide from scrutiny because we have done badly.” (2)

The boldness dimension of the admission is characterized concisely by Senator John McCain. He refers to it as courage:

Courage (emphasis is mine) is that rare moment of unity between conscience, fear, and action, when something deep within us strikes the flint of love, of honor, of duty, to make the spark that fires our resolve.” (3)

3) In terms of speaking about illuminating our  illusions, most folks can get pretty riled up. Why? Because it causes us to truly examine and evaluate the truthfulness  and practical application of what we have been assuming, thinking and doing. Consider the following from Daniel Levinson:

“As he attempts to reappraise his life, a man discovers how much it has been based on illusions, and he is faced with the task of de-illusionment. By this expression I mean a reduction of illusions, a recognition that long held assumptions and beliefs about self and world are not true. This process merits special attention because illusions play so vital a role in our lives throughout the life cycle.”(4)

(4) Residing comfortably within many of our illusions rest our prejudices. As Dr. King once said:

“There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths and downright ignorance.” (5)

Finally, there’s that issue about what to do with faith. As McLaren defines it, faith is certainly not something the human species is imbued with whose sole purpose is some form of peace of mind, resting comfortably on a couch. No, faith is designed to move us from spectating to participation. The following from Paul Rogat-Loeb sums it up quite nicely:

“Whatever our passions and commitments may be, we all face similar questions about how to cross the threshold from passivity to participation, to make our voices heard and make our actions count, and reawaken and sustain our faith in the future.” (6)

So, what’s your response? Once again, the words of Dr. King echo a truth with a poignant, present day application:

“To be honest is to confront the truth. However unpleasant and inconvenient the truth may be, I believe we must expose and face it if we are to achieve a better quality of American life.” (7)

May this writing be one element of inspiration that provides you with the courage to act on your faith to improve the community/nation/world you reside in….it begins with each of us….today.

Reflect on this.

NOTES:

(1) McLaren, Brian Finding Faith, Copyright © 1999 by Brian McLaren, Zondervan Grand Rapids, MI pp.13-14.

(2) Kushner, Harold S. How Good Do We Have To Be – A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness, Little, Brown and Company Boston, MA Copyright © 1996 by Harold S. Kushner, p. 39.

(3) McCain, John In Search of Courage, Fast Company Magazine, Issue Number 86, September 2004, Copyright © 2004 by Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing p.54-56.

(4) Levinson, Daniel J., The Seasons Of A Man’s Life, New York: Ballantine Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Copyright © 1978, p.192

(5) Scott King, Coretta The Words of Martin Luther King Jr., Newmarket Press, NY, NY Copyright © 1983 by Coretta Scott King and Newmarket Press, p. 30.

(6) Rogat Loeb, Paul. Soul of a Citizen-Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, St. Martin’s Griffin, NY  Copyright © 1999 by Paul Rogat Loeb, p.11.

(7) Scott King, Coretta The Words of Martin Luther King Jr., Newmarket Press, NY, NY Copyright © 1983 by Coretta Scott King and Newmarket Press, p. 89.

Faith To Confront Unprecedented Economic Times

Reflect on This

In these unprecedented economic times , what might faith mean?  Theologian Brian McLaren suggests:

“Faith involves admitting with humility and boldness that we need to change, to go against the flow, to be different, to face and shine the light on our cherished illusions and prejudices, and to discover new truths that can be liberating even though they may be difficult for the ego, painful to the pride.” (1)

From the above, we can see that the faith required to reimagine creating tomorrow today involves a multi-dimensional approach. Let me explain:

(1) It requires admission – a confession, if you will.

(2) The nature of this admission is twofold: it must be humble and bold.

In terms of the humility dimension of this matter, the following from Rabbi Harold Kushner speaks to the heart of the matter:

“being human is such a complicated challenge that all of us will make mistakes in the process of learning how to do it right, then we can come to see our mistakes not as emblems of our unworthiness but as experiences we can learn from. We will be brave enough to try something new without being afraid of getting it wrong. Our sense of shame will be the result of our humility, our learning our limits, rather than our wanting to hide from scrutiny because we have done badly.” (2)

The boldness dimension of the admission is characterized concisely by Senator John McCain. He refers to it as courage:

Courage (emphasis is mine) is that rare moment of unity between conscience, fear, and action, when something deep within us strikes the flint of love, of honor, of duty, to make the spark that fires our resolve.” (3)

3) In terms of speaking about illuminating our  illusions, most folks can get pretty riled up. Why? Because it causes us to truly examine and evaluate the truthfulness  and practical application of what we have been assuming, thinking and doing. Consider the following from Daniel Levinson:

“As he attempts to reappraise his life, a man discovers how much it has been based on illusions, and he is faced with the task of de-illusionment. By this expression I mean a reduction of illusions, a recognition that long held assumptions and beliefs about self and world are not true. This process merits special attention because illusions play so vital a role in our lives throughout the life cycle.”(4)

(4) Residing comfortably within many of our illusions rest our prejudices. As Dr. King once said:

“There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths and downright ignorance.” (5)

Finally, there’s that issue about what to do with faith. As McLaren defines it, faith is certainly not something the human species is imbued with whose sole purpose is some form of peace of mind, resting comfortably on a couch. No, faith is designed to move us from spectating to participation. The following sums it up quite nicely:

“Whatever our passions and commitments may be, we all face similar questions about how to cross the threshold from passivity to participation, to make our voices heard and make our actions count, and reawaken and sustain our faith in the future.” (6)

So, what’s your response? Once again, the words of Dr. King echo a truth with a poignant, present day application:

“To be honest is to confront the truth. However unpleasant and inconvenient the truth may be, I believe we must expose and face it if we are to achieve a better quality of American life.” (7)

May this writing be one element of inspiration that provides you with the courage to act on your faith to improve the community you reside in.

Reflect on this.

NOTES:

(1) McLaren, Brian Finding Faith, Copyright © 1999 by Brian McLaren, Zondervan Grand Rapids, MI pp.13-14.

(2) Kushner, Harold S. How Good Do We Have To Be – A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness, Little, Brown and Company Boston, MA Copyright © 1996 by Harold S. Kushner, p. 39.

(3) McCain, John In Search of Courage, Fast Company Magazine, Issue Number 86, September 2004, Copyright © 2004 by Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing p.54-56.

(4) Levinson, Daniel J., The Seasons Of A Man’s Life, New York: Ballantine Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Copyright © 1978, p.192

(5) Scott King, Coretta The Words of Martin Luther King Jr., Newmarket Press, NY, NY Copyright © 1983 by Coretta Scott King and Newmarket Press, p. 30.

(6) Rogat Loeb, Paul. Soul of a Citizen-Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, St. Martin’s Griffin, NY  Copyright © 1999 by Paul Rogat Loeb, p.11.

(7) Scott King, Coretta The Words of Martin Luther King Jr., Newmarket Press, NY, NY Copyright © 1983 by Coretta Scott King and Newmarket Press, p. 89.