My Unexplained Love.

Mariana Dynasty

I would write a for whole day about you. I would clear all the ink in the world just to put YOU on paper. I know so little about you, yet I feel like you are the closest to me. Maybe it’s because I have put you there, or maybe you forced your way around.
I think about you at every moment of my happiness and in those moments, it feels like your memories open my heart wide apart. It’s like my heart becomes the wings that flap gently to spread the love. I feel like my soul soars in the air just at the thought of your smile.

I would write a letter daily to you, to keep you updated on how far my soul has soared for you. I would mail you a lovely, colorful note explaining how I feel you closer and nearer despite you being so…

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Should We “Defund” Leadership?

Leadership Digital

By Chip Bell

General Magic was a 1990 spin-off from Apple that few people have ever even heard of.  The company was led by Marc Porat, who had a vision of what the future smartphone would be like at a time there was no world wide web or digital phone. The Pixar 2018 documentary on the company tells the tale of a group of passionate, driven people who worked around the clock, sleeping under their desks to bring to market revolutionary technology tools. It is a compelling story. And, their ending is a sad story of corporate betrayal and unfortunate timing.

But all that was to get you to watch the movie. The scene I want to spotlight is one in which Apple CEO John Scully sent over a man charged with managing the General Magic engineering group. At a candid team meeting, someone asked his role, “I have been sent by corporate to be your manager.” One of the General Magic engineers immediately responded, “Thanks, but we don’t need a manager. We get overall leadership from Marc, which is all we need. A manager will just get in our way.” 

It got me rethinking the true role of leadership. 

Let’s assume you hired highly qualified employees (what other kinds should you hire?) who are passionate about their roles. You ensure they receive the training, tools, and resources they need and authority commensurate with their proficiency. Now, what else do you provide to justify your position as their boss, supervisor, or leader? What do leaders do if everyone is doing their best at what they are supposed to be doing?

Here are six roles to consider:

Keep the Flame Burnin

People need a constant they can count on, especially in times of massive change. That constant must be compelling, relevant, and the foundation for everything. The flame of commitment and duty comes from a clear and convincing picture of what a unit or organization is striving to be, not just do. A vision is the emotional image and spirit-stirring of cathedral-building when the task might merely be bricklaying. The key to keeping the flame burning is to give every employee a match! 

Keep Your Humility

General Magic leader, Marc Porat, said of their allegiance to their vision, “There was no questioning of ‘could I be wrong?’ None. Because that’s what you need to break out of earth’s gravity. You need an enormous amount of momentum, and that momentum comes from suppressing introspection about the possibility of failure.” However, such myopia and arrogance led them to misread the marketplace’s readiness for an iPhone-like device. It was like building a television in the 1800s. Even if it was perfect, there was no programming to make it valuable.

Keep in Touch

Two constituents should be the target of “keeping in touch”—your associates and your marketplace. Keeping in touch with associates means maintaining an emotional connection that is about a partnership, not power. Keeping in touch with those you serve externally means staying attentive to the context of your vision. General Magic failed because they myopically focused on the super cool invention they were creating and misread the timing of the Internet, the very water in which their ingenious fish would need to swim.

Keep Out of the Way

I use this phrase, not as an invitation to use hands-off abandonment, but instead as a caution to never use any more leadership than is needed. If we hired smart people, gave them solid preparation and clear assignments, they shouldn’t need a parent to watch over them. It is the foundation of trust-building empowerment. Empowerment does not translate to unlimited license but rather responsible freedom. Effective leaders give servers the freedom to solve customer problems and answer questions on the spot within flexible guidelines. 

Keep Relationships Egalitarian

Egalitarian relationships are ego-less. The focus shifts from “all about me” to “all about us.” It is a perpetrator of interpersonal strength, knowing we are many not “on your own.”  Great partnering needs broad guidelines that provide “solution spaces” in which to operate. It takes the knowledge that mistakes won’t be fatal; that missteps in the pursuit of partnering with customers will be viewed as learning experiences, not handled with punitive measures.  

Keep Your Promises

Service leadership is about realness, not about roleness. The stereotypical leader gets caught up with looking, sounding, and “acting” executive, and employees get a message of “plastic power”—an approach that may engender compliance but never commitment.   Great leaders know humility bolsters trust. They are unimpressed with the trappings of supremacy and more interested in communicating an authentic spirit and an egalitarian style.

The most prevalent example of a community rethinking leadership is in the calls to defund the police–community organizers are not asking for law enforcement to be eliminated, they are simply asking that the role of a local officer of the law is reevaluated. In much the same way, we need to rethink the ways the person charged with leadership can make the best contribution to those they serve.

Stop Making Sense


Stop Making Sense

LEADERSHIP is about moving people. And to do that, you need to be able to inspire. And that means arousing their emotions.

Marketing strategist Michael Fanuele says to inspire and fuel passion, you will have to Stop Making Sense. “The more we try to persuade—to explain, to convince, to argue—the less likely we are to arouse anybody to do anything.” The Inspiration Equation:

Passion – Reason = Inspiration

Passion makes you want to sign-up. Reason wants you think about it more. Adding one decreases the other. But there is a place for reason.

By all means, use your reason and logic and the full force of your big brain in figuring out what’s right and wrong, what you want to do and what you don’t, in composing your strategy. But then, when it comes to moving people to inspiring, I’m sorry, but Passion and Reason are indeed enemies. You’ll have to find the right balance between adding one and subtracting the other.

How can you subtract just enough reasonableness to rile up your audience, without sounding completely insane? The Inspiration Playbook shows you how. It is comprised of six skills of inspiration that will help you execute on the Inspiration Equation.

The first two skills are about your goal—what you are trying to do.

1. Get Delusional

If we are going to inspire, we are going to have to get uncomfortable and make others uncomfortable too. “Fear, remember, lives closer to success than reason does.” Make your goal big. And use words ending in -est when you talk about it—best, biggest, fastest.

A clear idea is an idea that isn’t trying hard enough. It’s graspable. But a sublime idea—a delusional idea that makes you a little nervous because you can’t quite totally see how it will come to be—well, those are the ideas that inspire.

2. Aim For Action

Use direction-giving language, so your audience knows exactly what is expected of them. Give them something specific to do in the moment—a plan. And when you want people to do something more, you have to give them a rule to live by—something they can use to filter their decisions.

Sometimes—oftentimes—we don’t want to “move” an audience in the moment; we want to shift their very existence.

When our ambitions are that sweeping, we need to give our audience something more lasting than short-term directions; we need to give them a Golden Rule—a guideline for what to do in any—in every—situation.

Three and four are about the how.

3. Show Up To Stir Up

In a world of sameness, disorienting your audience makes all the difference. When pitching or selling an idea, we often stick to the comfortable and the mainstream. In observing advertising agencies pitching to clients, Fanuele noticed that “their genuine, compelling differences didn’t really matter when they each showed up in a way that felt exactly the same. What they were saying was irrelevant because of how they were saying it.” And when they do, “they sacrifice their most valuable possession: their own narrative.”

When we break conventions and become a force for originality, we inspire our audience to break conventions and become a force of originality.

In the face of what’s bold and surprising, we become bold and surprising. In the face of what’s familiar and ordinary, we remain familiar and ordinary.

4. Talk Like Music

Music moves people because it works on our emotions. If we work on our messages until they arouse our emotions, they become unforgettable earworms. Make it lyrical. Lyrics work “differently than mere speech does. Their intent is not simply to communicate information, but to evoke emotion.” How would your favorite musician retell the story of what you want to achieve?

The final two skills are about who you need to become if you are going to be someone’s Muse. They are the most critical and the most difficult. They are about “summoning the empathy and authenticity you’ll need to move anybody to do anything.”

5. Love, For Real

Empathy matters. You can’t inspire an audience you don’t genuinely love.

Nobody will move for you unless they’re sure you are on their side, looking out for their best interest. So, if you want to inspire, figure out what you love about the people you’re inspiring. This is an act that will require a great deal of effort and imagination, because “what you love” can’t be generic.

For example: “Don’t just love their strength, love the way they start Mondays and end Fridays—and never flag in between.”

“Love needs details.”

6. Be True To You

When people can see our human side, they can connect with us and trust us. We make the mistake of believing that we need to be better than the people we are trying to inspire. Not so, says Fanuele. “Superiority doesn’t inspire. In fact, it often repels. It’s our flaws and imperfections that make us ‘warm and likable.’

If You Fall, Rise Up, Don’t Despair

The Voice Blog

by Chris Banescu

f You Fall, Rise Up, Dont Despair, Wait on Christ

by St. Peter of Damascus –
If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant.

For the devil is in the habit of promoting in the soul whatever he sees is in accordance with the soul’s own disposition, whether this be joy or self-conceit, distress or despair, excessive toil or utter indolence, or thoughts and actions that are untimely and profitless, or blindness and unreflecting hatred of all that exists.

Quite simply, he inflames in the soul whatever material he finds there already, so as to do it as much harm as he can, even though in itself the thing may be good and acceptable to God, provided that it is used with due restraint by one who is able to judge things and to discern the intention of God hidden in the six passions that surround him – those, that is, above him and below, to his right and to his left, within him and without. Whether it relates to the practice of the virtues or to spiritual knowledge, there is some good purpose lying within the six passions that oppose him.without discrimination nothing good is ever done

Thus, as St. Antony says, we should always seek counsel about everything; and we should consult not just anyone, but those who have the grace of discrimination; for if the person we consult lacks experience, we may both fall into the ditch, as in the example given in the Gospel (cf Matt. 15:12-14).

For without discrimination nothing good is ever done, even though to the ignorant it appears to be altogether good; for what is done without discrimination will be either untimely, or profitless, or disproportionate, or beyond the strength or knowledge of the person doing it, or faulty in some other way. He who has the gift of discrimination has received it on account of his humility. Through it he knows all things by grace and, when the time is ripe, he attains spiritual insight.If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again.

From inward grief, then, and patient endurance come hope and detachment; and through hope and detachment we die to the world. We may also die to the world by enduring patiently and by not despairing when we see everywhere dismay and death, knowing that this is both a trial and an illumination; or by not being over-confident about having reached our goal.

Shedding many tears of distress, we begin to see clearly before us the holy sufferings of the Lord, and we are greatly solaced by them. And we truly regard ourselves as inferior to all other men, perceiving how many blessings are bestowed on us through the grace of God, to whom be glory and dominion through all the ages. Amen.

From: “Twenty-Four Discourses,” VIII Mortification of the Passions, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)
(Organizational edits — formatted in smaller paragraphs — to optimize readability made by Chris Banescu.)

f You Fall, Rise Up, Dont Despair, Wait on Christ

More On Jesus’ “Brothers”

Chivalric Apologetics

“‘Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses [or Joseph] and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”

Mark 6:3 (RSV)

In my post, A Biblical Defense of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, I remarked that the Greek word for brother ἀδελφός (adelphós) can also mean a near blood relation and so did not necessarily refer to a son of Mary and Joseph in this passage. See that link for background on the argument. That fact is still true and I do not deny it. However, I could have gone into a little more detail than that. My argument is, of course, that Mary was a perpetual virgin, hence Catholics often call her “the Blessed Virgin” or “Ever-Virgin”. I will go into more detail with this today.

It is generally noted by…

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Fr. John Whiteford

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Response to Giacomo Sanfilippo

Giacomo Sanfilippo

Giacomo Sanfilippo, of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, began by focusing on an erroneous statement I made in the original version of the article “The Living Church 2.0“:

“My response begins by exposing an outright lie by Father Whiteford when he writes, “The most recent issue of ‘The Wheel,’ a journal whose general editor is a lesbian….”*”

The asterisk is there to note that when it was pointed out that I was mistaken, I corrected the article, and added an apology to it. So on the point of whether or not my original statement was correct, I concede that it was not, and I sincerely apologize to Inga Leonova for the error — I have done so privately, and publicly — I have no desire to misrepresent anyone.

Making an erroneous statement, and telling a lie are not exactly identical things. For something to be a lie, it has to be not only false, but it has to be intentionally false. This is not the case. In his note at the end, he chides me for  “seem[ing] to have no hesitation to broadcast others’ sins such as he imagines them and potentially to ruin reputations in the process.” To begin with, lying is also a sin, and were I indeed guilty of it, Giacomo would now be guilty of hypocrisy, because he would be broadcasting my sins. However, I think there are occasions in which calling people out in public is very appropriate, and if someone publicly posts a lie, I think calling them on it is  justified… just like I believe that a person should be called out in public if they publicly deny that the moral tradition of the Church is true and should be followed, and yet claims to be an Orthodox Christian.

First let me explain where my I got the mistaken idea in the first place. Inga Leonova has been pushing the LGBT agenda in the Orthodox Church for a very long time. Back in 2011, there was an irenic article by an Orthodox priest  on the subject of those struggling with homosexuality, which nevertheless did not give any ground on the principle that homosexual sex is a sin that needs to be repented of, and that an Orthodox Christian is obliged to not indulge in that sin. Inga had a pro-homosexual Orthodox Facebook group (which I believe she started) that discussed this article, and most of the posters thought it was positive, but she took issue with it, and wrote:

“I think the point of the article is crystal clear even though the author is very careful in actually NOT spelling it out. He addresses the perception that gay people are “persecuted” by the Church in being required to live celibate lives by saying that everyone is called to transform their lives by the ascetic ordeal of Christian life. This is yet again a very clever way of dismissing the question of gay companionship.” 

Then a poster asked her to clarify what she really meant:

“?”gay companionship”? What is that, may I humbly ask? Like David and Jonathan? Not sexual? Why call it “gay”? I get so confused on what people are saying in these groups. Forgive me.” 

Inga never responded, because to clarify would be to state something that apparently she was not yet prepared to say in public, in no uncertain terms (the latest issue of the Wheel crosses that line, however, if she has not crossed it previously).

I wrote about this in an article entitled  “The bottom line in the current debate,” which pointed this out, and ended by referencing an article that suggested the problem of “gay companionship” could be dealt with by men and women who are struggling with homosexuality, but who desire to overcome it, marrying someone of the opposite sex, who is likewise struggling. My recollection is that Inga responded to that post by saying “Watch out folks! They are trying to marry us off”.  Unfortunately, I did not save that post, and so cannot cite it verbatim. In any case, these comments combined with her relentless advocacy of the homosexual agenda led me to my conclusion, but I have been assured by several people that it is not true, and so I accept that must have misread her at some point.

Now Giacomo is free to believe that I intentionally made this statement, knowing it to be false, but I think a reasonable person would know that you don’t have to be a genius to realize it is a bad strategy  to make a point that is easily refuted, and allows your opponents to focus on that one error, and ignore most of what you actually did say.

Furthermore, the point I was making is not really changed by this correction. My point is that the Wheel’s general editor has a clear pro-homosexual bias, and she clearly does. That is easily documented. Also, I don’t think anyone who is familiar with her position on homosexuality is likely to have a better or worse opinion of her based on her either being or not being a lesbian. In fact, were she a lesbian who accepted the teachings of the Church as they were, that would be far better. Personal sins are still sins, but sins that involve other people in your sin are worse — but heresy by far, is much worse than either of those kinds of sins. Teaching that a sin is not really a sin is a heresy, and it is a heresy that closes off the possibility of repentance for those who believe it. You can’t repent of a sin that you don’t believe to be a sin. And Inga does not believe that homosexual sex is inherently sinful, and she is spreading that view now through the Wheel.

The Benedict Arnold Option
Giacomo then goes off on a weird tangent:

“Speaking of lies, Father Whiteford, are you aware that Rod Dreher’s unrepented lies about an African-American professor have endangered the man’s life to the point where he needs police protection? Have a look at the addendum at the top of this article. In fact, as the husband in an interracial marriage, you might want to read the whole article. I mention this because your blog post seems to suggest that you admire or at least make common cause with Mr. Dreher. We should choose our bedfellows a little more carefully.”

I am not sure where this comes from. Prior to my most recent article, I find only two posts since 2004 that mention him. I certainly have no personal animosity towards Rod Dreher, and I am sure we agree on most matters of the Orthodox Faith. When it comes to his political commentary, I probably disagree with him as often as I agree with him. I do not regularly read his articles (which I am not criticizing, I just have only so much time). I have not read any of his books. Most of his opinions I only see in snippets on Twitter. What perhaps sparked this comment is that in my recent article, his name came up, only because I quoted a comment that mentioned him by Aristotle Papanikolaou. Apparently Rod Dreher made the comment that the moral teachings of the Church are not up for debate, and Aristotle Papanikolaou denied that this was so. On that point, I agree with Rod Dreher without any hesitation. It is a betrayal of the Orthodox Faith to suggest that our moral tradition is on a different footing than the dogmatic tradition of the Church.

If Giacomo wants to dispute that, he needs to make an argument, and provide something like evidence to back it up.

Giacomo made the following assertion, which either means he only quickly scanned my article, or he is willing to misrepresent his opponents:

“In response to Metropolitan Kallistos’ Foreword in The Wheel you suggest that “his comments are due to the weakness of old age.” Shame on you, Father Whiteford.”

I actually made no such assertion. He might as well have quoted me as saying I hoped the Metropolitan was kidnapped. In fact, I mentioned several possible mitigating circumstances that might excuse the text of the article in question, but then said that only God knows the truth of that, and only God can judge his heart — but that we have an obligation to judge whether what he wrote was right or wrong.

Appealing to Homophobia
Giacomo closed with a suggestion of what he thinks is my real motivation:

“…you may be dealing with unresolved, perhaps unacknowledged inner conflicts of your own.”

This is a common tactic of homosexual apologists. They suggest that anyone who stands for traditional morality in the face of the push for the acceptance of the homosexual agenda is probably a closeted homosexual himself. This, they hope will cause someone who does not want be thought of as a homosexual to shut up. It has been tried by others on me, and sorry, but it’s a ploy that I am not going to be intimidated by.

You might just as well argue that those who oppose pedophilia are motivated by their own pedophile tendencies. If the day comes when pedophilia is being promoted by some in the Church, I will speak out against that too, and if someone makes a similar suggestion then, it won’t work then either.

As an Orthodox Christian and as priest, I have an obligation to stand for the teachings of the Church. If I were making up a religion of my own, it would look very different, but if we want to be part of the Church that Christ founded, we don’t get to make things up according to our own wishes. We have to take what the Church teaches as it is, and on this issue, the Scriptures, the Canons, the Fathers, and the Saints are all perfectly clear. If you want a Church that says homosexual sex is OK, you need to look elsewhere.