Today is Remembrance Day, and for the occasion, I’ve resurrected the oldest draft post in my arsenal… from back in 2004. I began with an idea jotted down and then thought it would be better left until the whole Iraq thing cooled down… but of course you know how that’s gone. Opening the post up for the first time in (literally) years, I see I hadn’t written as much as I thought I had, but the gist of an idea is there, and it’s percolated for some time now.
I noticed a Scientific American piece, The Certainty Bias: A Potentially Dangerous Mental Flaw, and read it with interest. The article is subtitled “A neurologist explains why you shouldn’t believe in political candidates that sound too sure of themselves,” and takes the form of an interview of Robert Burton, the former chief of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco-Mt. Zion hospital, by Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters. Burton has written a book with the intriguing title, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, which explores the neuroscience behind the feeling of certainty, or why we are so convinced we’re right even when we’re not. This was the subject matter of the interview. I quote an excerpt:
I got this image via email, so I doctored it and shrank it down to fit in a post… click the image for the full-scale view. View of what, you ask? Well, it turns out that — as you’ll have noticed — a month goes by pretty quickly. And the big news is that you only get about 936 of them. With an average life expectancy of 78, that is. If you pass 83 years and 4 months, you hit the four-digit tally… but not everyone does, and according to James, “Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” He says we don’t know what tomorrow brings.
So the graphic shows 936 little blobs. Go ahead and mark off the ones you’ve already spent… fill in milestones, if you like — graduation, marriage, kids. And then ask yourself what you’re going to do with the remaining blobs.
I read Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody not long ago, and I’ve mentioned it here a few times already. The subtitle of the book is, “The Power of Organizing Without Organizations,” and I must say that it provides some excellent food for thought on the future of the institution contrasted with the power of loosely-affiliated mass collaborative efforts. The word “organization” might be used, but in some contexts it creates an expectation of more formality than actually exists.
Like a lot of other bloggers in this general emerging/missional conversation, I’ve mentioned some movies in the past, considering some metaphor or other that I’ve extracted. There are in fact a lot of movies out there with poignant themes, but I thought I would take a stab at listing ten that have themes relevant to the conversation in which we find ourselves. Some of these I’ve mentioned here before, and others I haven’t. I’m listing them in alphabetical order since this isn’t really a “top ten” list, so there isn’t another order that would make any more sense than that. For each one, I will attempt to give a bit of a precis and some reasoning why it fits into this list.
The TED site is a fantastic source of inspiring videos. I must say that I’m not exactly taken with all of them, but when you hit one that stands out, you generally have the urge to share it. Yup, that’s what’s coming. In this TedTalk, Ben Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian man he met at Wofford College. Teszler’s story covers the Holocaust through the American Deep South of the 1950s, confronting racism and oppression on both ends as he builds a successful career in textiles — not once, but twice. After all he had seen, Teszler still considered people to be basically good. His escape after being arrested by the Nazis produced a jaw-dropping moment for me, but the talk is inspiring throughout, including powerful ideas about justice and lifelong learning.
I’ve reflected before about the significant events on June 4th as I reminisced… and reflected about the passage of time since my wife and I were married 19 years ago today. I don’t know that I can be as profound in this post as in the previous two, which outline the fact that you just never know what life is going to bring you, so it’s important to take note of what you’ve got and enjoy the ride.
I was certain I had mentioned this a while back, as I recall hearing the story a year or so ago, but Justin Baeder mentioned it just recently and I couldn’t find where I might have mentioned it in my archives. Justin links to an NPR story about the discovery of baroque sheet music in Jesuit missions in the Bolivian jungle. Long-forgotten, some of the music dates to the 17th century, and is original to the people of the area. Apparently the original score of one of the pieces recovered is on the Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone with the London Symphony Orchestra. I’ve been listening to — and loving — that soundtrack on CD since 1986, and it’s probably time that I picked up the DVD and watched it again.