Opting out of heaven

by Lon on June 2, 2011

in Christ,Faith,Love

* You can buy the bumper sticker here

Taking the previous post on God’s Kryptonite a step further.

I’ve got two kids. Let’s say one of them becomes sinful and rebellious (which would just never happen). But hypothetically, let’s just say for whatever reason one of my daughters lives a selfish and faithless life. At the end of time, somehow I manage to slip my way into heaven, and she doesn’t.

If you’re a parent, I’m fairly certain you’d do the same as I would (as you would in this life) – You would plea with every ounce of your being that your child could continue having a chance at life.

I’d go as far as offering to trading spots. Kinda like Jesus did.

I know I’m nothing like Jesus, but would it hurt if I tried? Could we opt out of heaven for those that we love?

Would God honor our request? Could we joyfully stay in heaven if he didn’t?

Your thoughts?

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God’s Kryptonite

by Lon on May 31, 2011

in Christ,Faith

One of the defining characteristics I’ll hear Christians speaking of regarding their faith is that they worship a God of unconditional love and grace.

Fantastic.

And then they (including my past self) will say ‘salvation’ (heaven, eternity, life to the fullest, etc) is a gift of Godgiven by graceit can’t be earned

all you have to do is …

‘Conditions’ like trust, believe, have faith come to mind.

And what if someone doesn’t?

Or what if someone fervently believes, who also was trained to be an active listener, who happened to hear John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ on the radio, and at the moment she hear’s the phrase “Imagine there’s no heaven’, honestly contemplates it for a moment, and Bam!, gets struck to death by an oncoming collision.

Sorry, in the end you just didn’t have faith.

The rules have been set. God may be all powerful, but the game is completely in your hands.

This is an age old issue. But doesn’t it seem like God’s kryptonite is the human will?

There can’t be love without freedom of will. But could there not be love even when you screw up royally?

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Raising support

by Lon on May 24, 2011

in Cause,life,questions

About 5 years ago I handed in my resignation letter leaving behind a great corporate job for a life of uncertainty with the hope

Since then I’ve wrapped up seminary, had two kids, sold our home, moved back in with my parents for a year, led a church plant, started a non-profit network, and am incubating a little web startup for social good.

Much of my work is not exactly conventional, which means neither is my income. We’ve been draining a pot of cash saved up from the corporate days to get by these five years and are at a stage where I’m looking to begin fundraising.

Raising financial support is totally awkward. If I could share a few thoughts as I’m beginning this journey…

It is far easier to raise money for a cause than for a living wage.

A lot of organizations and missionaries try to make fundraising sexier by focusing on the causes and the impact, but the reality is the majority of people need an income to get by.

Should a person who works harder than the next guy get paid less because they happen to love what they do?

What does it mean when funds run thin? I know some faith-based organizations that say it means God isn’t affirming what you’re doing. How do people emotionally work around this?

I’ve always advocated interdependence, but the truth is I’ve built and planned my life to be independent of others, at least financially. This appears to be changing.

If I become community supported will I suddenly be on everyone’s payroll? What unmentioned strings am I attaching myself to?

I want to live an accountable life – but how deeply will I be judged? ie. ‘I saw Lon eating an angus burger on twitter – that should be my angus burger!’

Could I optimize our spending better? Yes. Could I take out another mortgage? Yes. Could I sell my body to science for some extra cash? Yes (and been there done that). Most of us would do anything we could before going to our friends wouldn’t we?

I’ve wondered If I should stop freely donating and supporting other causes? It feels a bit like I’m just passing someone else’s money along. I’ve decided we would continue donating until we literally couldn’t afford to. It’ll be okay uwayisaba.

Money is serious stuff. Because it gets to the root of what we value – Fantastic conversations have risen due to looking for financial support.

My bravest self would want my needs known. I discovered some friends who had been thinking for months about how to support me but weren’t sure how to bring it up. If we avoided these awkward conversations everyone risks losing.

I’ve had my Barack Obama fantasies. All I need to do is find 50 people to chip in $50 bucks a month online and I’m set. But I’m no Barack Obama.

I also wonder if this is some form of 21st century pan handling. Will this make any social capital I have completely tank? There’s always a shift in dynamics when there’s a person in need.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to fundraising. Don’t bank on friends with means, and don’t discount distant acquaintances.

Some people have asked if raising support is all that ‘biblical’. There’s plenty of references, but I think the early church practiced something even more profound than support raising when they shared ‘all things in common’. ie. Let’s all open our bank accounts and help each other out as needed. I bet that would get a bit awkward.

I’ve got a number of other thoughts percolating, but all this to say, support – how about it?

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3… 2… 1… Apocalypse!

by Lon on May 21, 2011

in Culture,Faith

Harold Camping has made quite a splash recently with his latest doomsday prediction. It’s suppose to occur sometime before 6pm today – and that’s 6pm EST because that’s God’s favorite timezone of course.

I wrote about being ‘left behind‘ a couple months ago – here’s some other great links as you prepare for the end.

Gizmodo has a list of essential gadgets in preparation for the rapture

Songs to end the world by

Jill Sobule also wrote a couple great rapture tunes just for the occasion.

Rapture parties are already planned

Even if you think this is all lunacy – maybe we should spare some compassion amid the mockery?

Or you could join the 800,000 plus others who are attending the latest post-rapture looting facebook event

Oh and if rapture doesn’t occur? ‘God is a liar‘ – Harold Camping I’m sure you’re exactly the type of PR God was looking for, thanks.

Your thoughts on all this?

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The creative life…

by Lon on May 16, 2011

in creativity,Quotes

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong

I hate being wrong, but this is so true. h/t Ivania

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The cost of war

by Lon on May 12, 2011

in confessions,Culture,politics,video

While many are debating whether the killing of Osama Bin Laden was ‘wrong‘ or ‘good and healthy‘, I think it’s important for us to reflect on whether the journey of war that got us here was even worth it.

Some highlights on the past 10 years:

An initial blow to the economy of $40 billion of insured losses due to the attacks

$1.2 trillion dollars has been spent – See the live counter here

Over 6,000 Americans have died in the two wars. See the faces of the fallen updated daily.

There have been over 100,000 Iraqis and Afghans documented civilian casualties.

Over 3 million Iraqis and Afghans remain displaced today.

And these are just some of the costs accounted so far. There are also massive burdens upon veterans returning home – from treating the over 200,000 traumatic brain injuries to the estimated 18 suicides per day amongst veterans.

And then there’s the misleading of the public in engaging in the Iraq war in the first place, the the images of torture that were exposed, oh and the huge debt that is accumulating in the order of $4 trillion to $6 trillion dollars!

What could we have done with $4 trillion dollars? Solve the global water crisis? Eliminate global poverty? Here’s an interesting little app that allows you to put global issues into a shopping cart and try to spend a trillion dollars.

3,000 lives were tragically lost in the horrific attacks of 9/11. Should criminals be brought to justice? Absolutely. Were the two post 9/11 wars worth it? I don’t think so.

The video below is a few years old but does a great job of outlining the costs of the war.

Your thoughts?

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“Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi have a powerful friendship born of unthinkable loss. Rodriguez’ son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001; el-Wafi’s son Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence. In hoping to find peace, these two moms have come to understand and respect one another.”

Your Thoughts?

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About a week ago I asked everyone to vote for our team in the Canadian Pepsi Refresh Project contest. Unfortunately I’ve had to pull us out. A few thoughts for those of you who are interested in a review of the process and tips for those of you who plan to enter later on.

There’s a number of reasons why the contest is faulty, but ultimately it was because we were losing.

This contest is absolute genius on pepsi’s part as they funnel a fraction of their marketing budget into making thousands of people their personal on the ground marketers. There’s nothing I like about pepsi, but a shot at $25k is incredibly appealing for any organization just trying to get off the ground.

The contest is 60 days of cumulative daily votes – which means your supporters have an opportunity to vote every single day, which also means it’s a major drag and becomes a contest of who can spam their supporters the longest.

Getting on the leaderboard early is critical. Everyone gets 10 votes a day and so people will likely spread their votes to the most visible leaders.

The Pespi Refresh FAQ states that the first two days the leaderboard is irrelevant as votes are being accumulated but I found that to not be true. I assumed I could gather my supporters later in the first day (which opened earlier than they stated) but voting impact appeared immediate.

We climbed to 19th place and tapered off from there. If you’re not in the top 10 within the first 4 days, I’d say give it up. It’s too much work to sustain while making up a ton of ground on people who probably want it just as bad.

The applications take forever to be approved. I received notification of mine just days before the contest began. I didn’t have any assurances on my voting page url until the contest began – and wasn’t about to send out a mass-mailing with a bad link.

The biggest problem with the refresheverything contest is the lack of transparency. The leaderboard is refreshed every thirty minutes, but you have no idea how far back you are. A person could be sitting one spot shy of the prize, but have no clue that they are thousands of votes away. This forces many people to scramble for votes when it’s hopeless in reality.

A number of people told me they also had problems voting. The site had a number of glitches and was poorly executed – though I’ve heard there have been a number of improvements.

The rules were unclear whether people could use facebook and email accounts to vote – it seemed like it was okay, but again it goes against the spirit of any voting system if that is in fact the way it works. I believe in the u.s. site there’s an option for texting in votes as well.

Our project was a national one – my tip would be even if you were national, choose a local metro hub like Toronto anyways, because the home page defaults to applications that are ‘near you’ for more exposure.

Voting coalitions are the only way to have a shot at winning. Partner with other applicants and leverage each other’s entire networks. You can create a link that shows all your ‘partners’ and have supporters spread their 10 votes across them all.

Finally, in Canada specifically – the only true way of winning? Have a pet project. Seriously. There must be some massive pet lover network out there as the leaderboard is completely dominated by pet/animal/spay/neuter projects. In the last contest cycle 8 out 9 winners ($190k out of $195k) were pet related! Good causes I’m sure but of all the needs across Canada, I just can’t believe pets would be the greatest of all needs seen by the general public. Are all pepsi drinkers animal advocates? Are people with a passion for neutering dogs extra savvy at social media campaigns? I don’t get it.

Okay, those are my thoughts/tips/vents on the pepsi refresh everything contest.

Moving along now, you can find out next steps our our project here.

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