Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Patriarchal Problem

“As every parent can testify, initially our children believe we can do no wrong; later on they believe we can do no right.” 
 -Joseph J. Ellis 

Wallace: Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace.

Young soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!

Wallace: Yes, I’ve heard ... and if he were here, he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse.

One of my favorite moments from the movie Braveheart is at the beginning of William Wallace’s epic Freedom speech. Wallace’s victories had made him such a legend that young soldiers came to expect a demi-god on the battlefield. He responds to the misperception with some humor, then shows his countrymen that he’s just a man like them, and a fellow Son of Scotland. This allows Wallace to win the hearts of the soldiers, who then fight as one man under him.

Our heroes are required to live paradoxical lives. We yearn for them to be like us … yet beyond us. Unfortunately, this paradox presents a problem.

We want to relate to our leaders. This is why presidential candidates try to portray themselves as ordinary Americans. It’s why LeBron James, in his statement about returning to Cleveland writes, “Before anyone cared where I would play basketball, I was just a kid from Northeast Ohio.” Even Superman is just a mild-mannered Kansas farm boy at heart.

In order for a hero to be our hero, he’s got to be one of us.

At the same time, we also expect a hero to be on a different level – stronger, braver, smarter, more skilled – than we are. If they aren’t, why should they be at the front of the pack? Author Simon Sinek puts it this way:

“It is true that the alpha may really be ‘stronger’ than the rest of us … That’s good. Because when the group faces a threat from the outside, we expect the leader, who really is stronger, better fed and oozing with confidence … to be the first one to rush toward danger to protect the rest of us.”

In order for one of us to be a hero, he’s got to be beyond us.

While most of us don’t interact with presidents or pro athletes on a regular basis, we tend to apply the same expectation to our everyday heroes – that is, those who lead as husbands, fathers, bosses, mentors, coaches, or pastors. We expect them to be both average and amazing. Is that unfair? Not at all. What is unfair is to expect our leaders to be one and not the other.


Biographer Joseph J. Ellis refers to this as the Patriarchal Problem. “As every parent can testify, initially our children believe we can do no wrong; later on they believe we can do no right.”

The Reconciliation of David and Absalom, Rembrandt
As children, our young minds have trouble with paradoxes. We don't have the capacity to grasp multi-faceted personalities. Then as we mature, we begin to observe – in ourselves and others – displays of brilliance and ineptitude, boldness and fear, good and evil. In other words, we begin to realize there are many sides to a person.

Yet, in moments of high emotion, we tend to revert to our immature methods of processing. We worship or demonize based on the way people make us feel. And because our leaders evoke so many emotions in us, they are endlessly bombarded with irrational amounts of either adoration or criticism.

So what is a fair response? How can we be mature in the way we process? Being mesmerized by a leader's strengths or disheartened at their shortcomings is a thing of youth. A more balanced, more mature approach is to love and honor our fellow man in his finest hour and when he is most in need of grace.

And in so doing, we resemble the most righteous hero Who, although He was beyond us, became one of us in order to lead us to victory and life. Forever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Sophisticated romantics of all ages will certainly relate!" - John Berger, Honolulu Star-Advertiser

REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

American pop music is constantly mutating, but its primary themes remain constant. Love. Loss. Loneliness. The search for that special someone. Looking back at love.

Veteran singer/songwriter Kaleo Vai covers those tried and true topics in engaging style on “Overhead.” In the title song, he describes the challenge of chasing dreams and taking risks in terms that also apply to ocean sports.
kaleo vai

Vai is also taking a risk with his music, at least in local terms. It’s “island music” when it comes to expressing the feelings of a Hawaii resident, but doesn’t have a Jamaican-derivative rhythm favored by local “island music” radio stations. Producer/musician Imua Garza and percussionist Jon Porlas join him on arrangements that bring together elements of samba, bossa nova and tropical jazz in ways that give these songs international appeal.

Vai describes romantic feelings in memorable lyrical terms: “It’s not my living room unless you’re living in it / It’s not home-cooked unless you’ve dipped your finger it / The day’s not good unless you’re there when I begin it,” he tells the object of his affections in “Home Is Wherever You Are.”

In “Pick It Up,” he asks a prodigal love if she is “still the girl I knew three years and seven months ago?” He poses the question in such romantic terms that its natural to hope that the answer is “yes” and that the woman has returned home to stay.

With these songs and others, Vai shares the highs and lows of a romantic’s life — seeking love, finding it and losing it, and sometimes reconnecting when circumstances change and the stars align again. 

Sophisticated romantics of all ages will certainly relate!
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at jberger@staradvertiser.com.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bowties & Bling

Doing the bday charity event with James Chan and Ryan Kalei TONIGHT!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fetus donates stem cells to heal mother's heart

An unborn baby can literally heal a mother's heart. A recent medical discovery sheds some light on why some women who develop heart weaknesses during pregnancy are able to recover spontaneously.

The procedure is pretty interesting. At Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, scientists mated female mice with males genetically altered to produce a green-fluorescing protein in all their body cells. As a result, the fetuses also contained green-fluorescing cells, which made fetal tissue easy to spot in the mother (see an article on Hina Chaudhry's research here).

Next, heart attacks were inflicted upon the pregnant mice (ack, I know). Two weeks later, the pregnant mice were killed so their hearts could be examined. Fluorescent cells were found in the mothers' damaged heart tissue, where they had accelerated repair by changing into new heart cells.

Yet another study, independent of the one mentioned above, indicates: "The quantity of fetal cells in a mother’s body increase the activity of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis decreases ... fetal cells may offer the mother increased resistance to certain diseases." (Original article here)

So ... condolences to the Minnie Mouse household, but props to babies EVERYWHERE! This is amazing! The relationship between mother and unborn baby is often viewed as one-sided, at least as far as physical provision goes, but this research shows that the give and take between the two is very real and very significant.

How can a human be a house?

My whole Christian life I've heard that God lives in me. It has ever been a great mystery: "Christ in you, the hope of glory," and "His spirit indwells in you," and again, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" Today, science has helped me to understand to a greater degree what it means for a human to be a house for another living being.

Mary was the only human to ever have Christ literally live within her. She took the utmost care to ensure the child's health and well-being, as any good mother would. Pregnant, conscientious mothers avoid taking in what is bad for the baby, avoid any physical activity that may do the unborn child harm, and instead nourish themselves and the life within with good things.

As Mary took great joy and care in being a living house for the physical Christ, so we are to take great joy and care in being a living house for the Spirit of Christ. 

With Mary, the humble provision she supplied for Christ in utero resulted in healing and restoration beyond what she could embody within herself. Likewise, the humble provision we supply for the Spirit of God yields fruit far beyond what we would be able to produce on our own.

What can we supply for the Life within? Because His essence is spiritual, so must be His sustenance. Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." He told His disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me."

Can our lives be injurious to the Life within? Paul admonishes, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." The injuries we inflict in the spiritual realm are not physical, but emotional. What a mighty, yet tender God, who makes Himself so vulnerable as to abide in lowly, sinful man! The God of the universe stoops down to make us great, but in so doing, ever risks the sting of rejection.

Scriptures again charge those whom God resides within: "Do not quench the Spirit," indicating that the way we choose to live does indeed affect the Life we embody. Whereas neglecting the Spirit of God may not inflict damage to the Almighty, it can certainly damage the life-giving transfer between God and man.

For those in whom Christ dwells, let us take great care to spare Him grief, not to neglect, but to nourish His Spirit, to allow His light to shine through us. To those who search for God, He desires to dwell in you, to heal you from the inside out, and to give you richness of life and rest for your soul.

Happy New Year!