Enjoy a few wintry images here:
You can view an array of my architectural photography here:
The following is my award for Blogger of The Year 2013. Maybe I should call it “My Merchants of Meaning in Social Media for 2013.” It’s noisy these days. The bits and bytes slamming into our lives from every imaginable digital, social networking source is – well – something to be mindful of – and managed. It’s also something to be appreciated. Thus, my annual recognition of said appreciation.
I concluded that for 2013 – well – my heartfelt appreciation is fourfold. These are the people whose posts have consistently made meaningful, enduring, positive deposits in my life during 2013 (and the lives of countless others). As the photo that’s associated with this article portrays, these people are headlights for me – illuminating the way ahead – in a world that requires people to lead with a flashlight. In alphabetical order:
Ron Cole – for me – Ron is the unequivocal conscience of post-modern chaos. He is consistent, an instigator, a provocateur…Ron Cole causes questions in a world consumed with the adoration of answers. He will make you uncomfortable. Cole will cause you to pause – ponder – to reconsider. He is the mouthpiece for many minorities – people, places, concerns, causes and challenges. Cole continues to “earn” his appreciation on my list, as he has over the past three years. Follow Ron on FB. Prepare to be disturbed, discombobulated and redirected.
Chad Estes – for me – Chad is the champion of compassion. His leadership in taking on tough, divisive, emotional issues with a carefully crafted, considerate, literate approach with his heart and mind’s pen – with a diverse audience – is unparalleled. Chad’s work with women and breast cancer is a phenomenal accomplishment – one that legitimately deserves national and international recognition (and replication). His photography prowess is spellbinding. Estes is an exceptional, undiscovered talent who deserves a syndicated column with a mainstream, national media distribution network. Period! Follow him on FB or his other social media outlets. You’ll be glad you did.
Jim Henderson – for me – Jim is the King of Kindness and the Reverend of Reconciliation. His ground breaking work with the issues of women in the church, causing Christians to see themselves from the viewpoint of outsiders, and his latest work with William P. (Paul) Young regarding “Where’s God When There’s No Happy Ending” — are just three of his spiritual anthropological endeavors that upend understanding, provoke the examination of the unspoken – and build new bridges amidst the fog-laden byways of life. Upon autopsy, it will be discovered that Jim’s physical being actually contained three to four hearts (he’s a likely organ donor). Henderson is a healer of profound humility. He’s a hero of mine. Ongoing. Forever. Follow Jim on FB – you’ll be challenged and changed for the better.
Chris Hill – for me – The Pontiff of Post-Modern Philosophy. From his portal in Albuquerque, New Mexico – Chris causes creative contemplation of critical challenges, concerns and understandings that inhabit post-modern life. Chris is a provocative purveyor of productively pursuing the plausible, the possible – the potential of wondering about why, when, where, who, and what-if. He’s the muse of meaning, matter, and mindfulness. He’s the King of The Questians! Follow Chris on FB…his meanderings will provide your life with mountains of meaning. Believe me…Chris will lead you on hikes through the wilderness of widely held (often unexamined) belief systems. Expect to encounter the unexamined.
The four identified above comprise – The Fellowship of the Flashlight – as I refer to them – and have several things in common. These include:
1. They live what the post.
2. They see a better way ahead.
3. They are people who live from the heart – as well as the head.
4. They care more about others than they do themselves.
5. They cherish questions.
6. They are teachers (and students).
7. They are creators of relational community.
8. They are innovative thinkers.
9. They live where we live – and share the challenges, burdens, possibilities and potential for this life.
10. Each is a uniquely gifted a merchant of meaning. Their social media contributions routinely rise above the digital noise that now inhabits human civilization.
11. Each lives sacrificially…unselfishly sharing their life with others at every opportunity, as they are able.
12. I am truly grateful and a better person because of their social media contributions.
Of course, the posts of a myriad of others have made meaningful, enduring deposits in my life. My list includes dozens and dozens of women!!! It also includes contributions from the rich diversity of people who populate our life. We are grateful for the meaning you provide to our lives.
These four routinely and consistently lead with flashlights in the fog. Follow them in 2014!
Thanks to ALL!
Grab your flashlight.
Earth Interrupted – An Interview with Author Bill Dahl
The following is an interview I just completed regarding the upcoming release of my new novel, EARTH Interrupted. I hope you enjoy it! After reading the below, if you have additional questions, please send them to me. Thank you.
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013
Question 1 – Where did the idea for the novel Earth Interrupted come from?
Dahl Response: Over the past 6 years, my life has experienced some unique interruptions. These interruptions have been caused primarily by my Black Lab Reggie, as well as some unanticipated health problems (behind me now).
You see, Reggie requires getting outdoors – excursions out into nature. I obliged – begrudgingly at first. It changed my life. We have spent an awful lot of time together hiking, camping, fishing and capturing photographic images while exploring the expanse of the western U.S.
Along the way, I found the solitude and inspiration that allowed me to see life in new ways. I guess you could say a refreshing new awareness and perspective were birthed deep within me. I developed new concerns, curiosities and hopes about life; some of which have been revealed in Earth Interrupted. I’m certainly NOT the first human whose worldview has been rearranged by the impact of an unexpected, challenging health event or a dog in one’s life.
Question 2 – Give us a few examples of a few themes in the story.
Dahl Response: Of course. Several of the central themes of Earth Interrupted involve inertia, progress, time and next.
In terms of inertia, we are all pushed along by the priorities and time constraints of daily living. Inertia oftentimes creates short-sightedness; impairing us from seeing the big picture; and giving deliberate, serious consideration to where our lives – and human civilization might be headed. Inertia has a tendency to constrain our focus to me and mine rather than us and ours. Inertia assumes that energy expended (individual, collective or in commerce) is almost wholly positive and productive. I challenge these notions in Earth Interrupted.
Progress is a component of the human psyche that has been infused into the worldview of man for centuries (actually millennia). Progress is the notion that life will get progressively better. Yet, there is a price to pay for progress. Clearly, we currently inhabit an epoch in history where issues like climate change, resource depletion, clean/alternative energy, drinking water, fertility, food supplies, bio-engineering, advances in neuroscience, medicine, genetic engineering, and the trajectory of technological advancement — all pose both promise and peril for human civilization. Yet, it’s my view, that the notion of progress is one that deserves a reappraisal. I use the novel to pause, to interrupt, if you will, and reconsider this widely held proposition. This will be apparent for the reader of Earth Interrupted.
Time– If there is a sub-title for the novel, it would be from sometime to SUMtime. More specifically, the reality of our passive acceptance of time passing is intricately woven into the notion of progress. For most of us, we assume that tomorrow will come and present itself just as yesterday did. In Earth Interrupted, sometime (the assumption that time is an unlimited resource available for our consumption) morphs into sumtime – whereby the ongoing and cumulative deleterious effects of passing tipping points in threats to human existence now require humans to adapt, make new sacrifices and develop new ways of living – as well as attempt to alter the trajectory that threatens life on Earth, as we now know it.
Next – as a theme within the novel, next is explored extensively. Again, next is an assumption that is part of the interwoven strands of inertia, progress, and time. Next is a grammatical term in the English language that is primarily relied upon as a central assumption in human existence. Next is an expectation. We assume that next is good, next is certain, and that next is simply another part of our assumptions about time – there’ll be more of it – and it will be better than the past. Yet, when one looks around today and recognizes the threats to next – the least we can say is that these threats are global, tangible, multi-dimensional, numerous and complex.
These threats also possess elements of energy or inertia. They are part of the voice of progress you hear today. Of course, inherent in these threats, the dimension of time resides. Unrestrained in their current trajectories, these themes may well define what’s next for the human species. Finally, there is also a paucity of concerted collective effort directed toward retarding, redirecting or eliminating the same.
Question 3 – Why is the letter ‘R’ in the title of the book upside down? What does this represent?
Dahl Response: One thesis of the novel is it’s time to wake up! It is ‘R’ time, as simple as that may sound. Sometime has morphed into Sumtime. It’s essential that we engage in deliberate actions to rouse us from the comfort and complacency that resting in the notions that inertia, progress, time and next saturate us with. We ‘R’ responsible for what we pass onto our children and our grandchildren. It is ‘R’ time to Reimagine a vastly better future, versus riding along toward a destination the current trajectory will likely deliver us to. It is ‘R’ time to Rehabilitate environments and ecosystems we have damaged. It is ‘R’ time to Recreate new ways of collaborating and cooperating together – toward these ends.
Question 4 – How have you “flaunted the conventions of fiction” in this novel. Can you provide a few examples?
Sure, there are several:
- There are embedded links in the story for e-book readers to click on.
- There is a Character Reference Index at the beginning of the book (editor suggestions).
- There is a Recommended Reading section – an index at the end of the book – where I provide the reader with additional books to read (non-fiction) that provide additional resources to explore based upon specific subject areas I have illuminated in the novel.
Question 5 – How is the phrase “passing the hat” a central theme of the novel?
According to the publisher and the editors, I have to be careful not to answer this question too thoroughly. Let me say, it is a tangible, central theme. I mean, look around today and see how comfortable human kind (individuals, governments, cultures, organizations and societies) has become passing increasingly severe problems from one generation to the next. Frankly, it’s a pandemic. Kicking the can down the road has become globally acceptable behavior. Yet, this behavior has accretive, oftentimes negative consequences. It’s only a matter of time before you reach a point as a species where tolerating the intolerable catches up with you…
Question 6 – What roles do faith, religion and secularism play in this novel?
A great question; throughout the novel, the issue and capacity of human belief, cognition, hope, deception, confidence, trust, certainty and uncertainty – the animal spirits – if you will – are at play here. All the characters, as humans do, come with their own set of beliefs, attitudes and values – some of which are god related. These attributes bring both flavor and fodder for the story line in the novel. You’ll see.
Question 7 – Is this novel part of a series?
Yes, a trilogy actually. Book 2 is well along the way in the writing process
Question 8 What potential outcomes does this novel possess that you hope for.
There are three primary outcomes I would like to see:
- A reinvigorated dialog, accompanied by new forms of relational collaboration that about the array of social and ecological threats that currently confront the human species.
- A new meaning for “the hat” – you’ll see.
- Unanswered questions, inspired curiosities, and a desire to discuss and explore the same with others that the novel inspires.
First, an apology – I am way behind in reading and reviewing books graciously sent to me for review by VP and Publisher Wendy Grisham at Jericho Books. I am truly sorry Wendy and Jericho.
Rob Strong’s “The Big Guy Upstairs” is truly a luscious little book. Rob is a natural story teller, eminently human, and shares some insights into the human dimension of the pastoral profession that I found both amusing, heart-wrenching, and refreshing.
This book is really all about “walking with God” – sharing the boots on the ground reality of “sharing with someone else” the experience of doing just that.
I adored this quote which captured the essence of this book for me:
“Experiencing God begins with grace and forgiveness. God is pushed to the edge of your life or relegated to the role as the “Big Guy Upstairs” because of your guilt or avoidance. But he doesn’t want you to feel he must be kept far away. He wants you to reach out and grab hold of him. He wants to walk life with you…you can experience life with him. God is right here with you.” (pp. 207-208).
Rob Strong demystifies and deconstructs the perception of “The Big Guy Upstairs” – a notion that prevents experiencing the intimacy available for far too many. Due to bad theology, poor experiences with life, others and self — Rob Strong tackles these issues head on, in a sensitive way filled with real-life practical examples.
Like I said, a luscious little book, penned by a fellow I hope to meet some day. Rob Strong is the kind of guy you would want to have as a God Guide in life.
I’ll leave it at that.