Month: December 2013

What I Learned from Phil and Bill

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In the following post, I will be quoting racial slurs and references to sexual anatomy.

Phil "Duck Commander" Robertson
Phil “Duck Commander” Robertson

Ok, now that’s settled, let’s take a look at Phil.

Phil is a millionaire whose hit, number one reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” has been making waves in TVland. The family of the backwoods, Louisiana man makes money selling duck calls and praying at dinnertime on TV every week. For those who join the family on A&E every week, Phil, Willie, Jase, and Uncle Si provide a half-hour of good ‘ole, family-style entertainment (scripted in that non-scripted reality way) that even Andy Griffith would appreciate.

This week, Phil has come under a little fire. The “Duck Commander” made comments in a GQ article expressing his opinion about homosexuality, saying:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby

As a result of this comment, Phil has been suspended from the popular A&E show. I won’t be commenting on this particular outcome – it is what it is. Interestingly enough, all this buzz has reminded me of Bill Cosby. 

Doesn’t it remind you of Bill Cosby too?

If not, let me take us on a flashback to 2004. The beloved Dr. Cliff Huxtable was speaking to a black activist group in Chicago when he said the following:

“Let me tell you something, Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other ‘nigger’ as they’re walking up and down the street. They think they’re hip. They can’t read. They can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.”

Calling black youth “dirty laundry” landed the comedian in hot water and even put Al Sharpton on edge. Not terribly unlike Phil, Bill expressed in no uncertain terms his opinions of a controversial issue. While Phil hasn’t said much since his comment, Bill certainly followed up: “You can’t get me to soften my message,” he said. “If I had said [it] nicely, then people wouldn’t have listened.”

Well there you go.

So what have I learned from Phil and Bill? — They freak us out. They freak us out probably because of the scary quality they possess – alarming transparency.

An excellent and highly-encouraged read
An excellent and highly-encouraged read

In their book Transparency: How to create a culture of candor, the leadership-sauvy-and-always-insightful Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, James O’Toole, and Patricia Biederman explain how important transparency is in cultures. All too often, a lack of transparency causes cultures to act in ways that aren’t conducive to cohesive living. As the internet floods our Facebook and Twitter pages with why Mr. Robertson is either a hero or the devil, I’m reminded of how transparency is not only essential for us to look at, but is also missing from most of the blogs and articles being written (not only about Phil, but about most anything it seems). Transparency is one of the tools used to help us be vulnerable, and help us live healthy, cohesive lives together. The Transparency team puts it like this: “The leaders who will thrive and whose organizations will flourish in this era of ubiquitous electronic tattle-tales are the ones who strive to make their organizations as transparent as possible.” (2008, p.17)

Oh touché.

Warren Bennis defines transparency as “capable of being seen through; without guile or concealment; open; frank; candid.” I would add honest. It also requires one other thing: “The key to any good [relationship] is clarity – the ability to see and even be in communication with what’s really going on.” (Bennis, “The New Transparency”) I’d be willing to say that, based on this definition, transparency is apparently no apparent most anywhere. It’s interesting that after Phil and Bill said what they said so transparently, many responded with shady, opaque messages clouded with misinformation and misunderstanding.

None of this, of course, is to qualify or disqualify what Phil or Bill have said. I take no sides here. But what this does hash out is our fear of transparency. Not all attempts at transparency are communicated well; in fact, they often are not. As people point to a problem boldly, they may get distracted by other rabbit trails or emotional remarks. But this should not make us afraid of transparency. It shouldn’t make us afraid of being vulnerable to diverse criticism that may penetrate our own world views. It is quite uncomfortable, I assure you, but such is life.

I like what Dr. Brene Brown, author the heart-wrenching-yet-oh-so-powerful book Daring Greatly has to say about transparency. Well, she calls it vulnerability, but the two are closely related. She says:

“Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness.” (Daring Greatly, Ch2)

Well said, Brene. No one could certainly accuse Phil or Bill of not being vulnerable or transparent in their moment of “quotable crisis.” Whether one agrees with them or not, they offered their vulnerability up honestly. I respect that. Me, on the other hand — well, let’s say I’m probably not vulnerable enough when I need to be, transparent when I ought to be, or honest when I have to be. Being honest and sharing a feeling or thought with the world is a scary thing; it freaks us out. This may be why Phil and Bill caused such waves – they were very, very honest with their thoughts. For some, too honest to the point where their trust for Phil and/or Bill was lost. But perhaps their transparency was not all that bad. In truth being vulnerable, while sometimes messy (as in Phil and Bill’s cases), gives us the ability to live with “courage, purpose, and connection.” (Brown, Daring Greatly, Ch.4)

Now that sounds like something worth trying.

Reblog – “Five Holiday Tips For New Adoptive Parents” by Dr. Beth Robinson

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Reblog – “Five Holiday Tips For New Adoptive Parents” by Dr. Beth Robinson

Dr. Beth Robinson is a super-smart, super-fun individual who also happens to be a gifted writer. I have had the privilege of having her as a professor and let me tell you what an awesome experience that is. She is very knowledgable, incredibly qualified, and a great communicator. She is the author of seven books, an honored and awarded speaker, and still finds time to work with children in west Texas. I read this article some time back and loved it. I reblog it today because I think it is a great message for parents of all kinds, adoptive or otherwise. If you’re a parent, or know a parent, take a look at this article and take a look at Dr. Beth’s website (DrBethRobinson.com). She has incredible resources available too, so check her site out!
KB

 

“Rest in Busyness to Put Busyness to Rest” – by Guest Blogger Scott Hall

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Today, I feature another guest blogger. He’s a super-smart guy and a crazy-awesome, longtime friend of mine, Mr. Scott Hall. Scott is a pastor in Lubbock, Texas and is recently engaged to be married (‘adda boy). I’ve known Scott a long, long time and let me tell you, anyone who has put up with me as long as he has must be a good person! I think Scott’s post today is very poignant, considering the season, and I hope you enjoy! Let him know what you think in the comments section below.
KB

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Scott Hall
Scott Hall

What is the thing that we so often find it near impossible to achieve?

Q: Is it that next job promotion that will launch our careers?

A: It seems as though we are already in constant pursuit of this dream, but I still think there is something that is even more difficult to achieve.

Q: Is it friendship? Good relations?

A: Maybe not. Think of how people of all shapes and sizes may find companionship in some form so long as they submit to that relationship in some way.

In our Western world, could it be that one of the hardest things to achieve is a moment of rest? We are a busy culture. Now by “we,” I mean the majority of the western world, in particular, America. Our restful moments in this society (or rather what we interpret as “rest”) often consist of an instant stream of media, data, and trending information. So here is the problem I see…we do not know how to rest!

Keep-Calm-and-Rest

Think with me for a second…

I read a story the other day about a German kindergarten who decided to plan their school days to mimic a typical American Kindergarten format. By this, I mean that they were going to transform their kindergarten format which consisted of a half day of school mostly filled with recess and play to a format like a good ole American Kindergarten of 7+ hours of school a day with only a brief period for recess. You know what they found? They found out that the children did not learn any more than they did with the other schedule. You know what did increase? The children’s stress levels. The children could not find anything to absorb and rest.

Why do I mention this story? Well I think it displays some truth towards the very lives that adults try and live here in our Western world, a life of abandonment from rest and silence. “U.S. workers received an average of 12 vacation days in 2012 [after being decrease from 14 days in earlier years], but only used 10 of them, according to Expedia’s survey” exclaims Jillian Anthony of CNN Money. The saddest news of all is the fact that this trend is worsening. It has allowed America to be named the “no-vacation nation.”

And do we not see the effects of “rest”less living? Constant increases in divorces, stressed and over-worked people, tiredness, and many other things are symptoms of this plague. I see it in my friends, extended family, fiancé and myself. What will it take to reach a point of rest?

However, we are seeing a slight shift recently in some companies as people are being allowed “rest breaks” rather than “coffee breaks”. From what I have heard, these rest breaks have proven to create more positive atmospheres in the workplace, more motivated workers, and better company efficiency. Hopefully these rest breaks will catch on in more companies.

Being a Christian, I have observed the wisdom in how God was insistent that the nation of Israel practice a day of Sabbath. Basically this was a day of rest. No work in the field was to be done and no unnecessary strain. What were they supposed to do? Be with their families! They were to enjoy the moment! They were to simply be still and rest.

Now whether you are a Christian or not, I think that there is something very healthy in implementing a similar discipline in our lives. This is very difficult sometimes for us. I do see that people have moments of what I like to call, “American Rest” which consists of sitting or lying around and resting on our iPhones, computers, or favorite shows. But how would it look (and I am about to throw something out here that this beyond crazy!) if during our “rest” times, we boycotted the influence of media, the pull of Facebook/social media, the ring of a cell phone, and simply, I don’t know, turned off our devices and dwelled in the bigger world around us? I often wonder:

How would it look if a father decided to take off early from work to play a board game with his children at home?

How would it look to turn off our electronic lives and sit in reality with our real families and friends rather than to sit cyberland?

How would it look if we took our days off of work and vacationed!?

What would it look like to just rest?

So if I may be so bold into challenging us all to rest in our busyness so that we may put busyness to rest. Make it a discipline to turn off your phone for 15 minutes a day and enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy your life! Maybe by doing so, we will achieve something bigger and better than a unsatisfying paycheck. Maybe instead we will receive the sustaining gift of joy.

Coming Soon – The Coward: a novel

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How about a sneak peek at something?

It’s taken well over a year to develop what I’m about to show you. (No, the video didn’t take a year, the thing at the end of the video took me a over a year. I’m not that new to iMovie.)

Today, after all this time, I am pleased to announce that my first ever novel is going to be available from Amazon.com and CreateSpace eStore January 2014 in both paperback and Kindle editions! The Coward is a harrowing and yet heartwarming story of Lt. John Burke, a WWII fighter pilot who is shot down over enemy lines. Burke comes face to face with the enemy and quickly realizes that the fight is not quite as black and white as he first thought.

The cover, designed by super-talented smartguy Nathan Richardson, is gorgeous. I’ll be “leaking” the cover in the coming weeks. For now, I’ll give you this trailer as a first look at the book. I hope you enjoy!
KB