Posts Tagged idol

Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego – Rev. Susan Sparks -Sunnyside Up

Until I entered seminary, I thought that the three Bible characters who were saved from the fiery furnace were named Shadrach, Meshach, and “To bed we go.”

Okay, maybe the seminary timing is an exaggeration. However, it’s true that I believed those were their names. You see, in order to get me to go to sleep when I was a kid, my Dad would read me Bible stories—this one from the book of Daniel being one of my favorites. While he pronounced “Abednego” correctly (albeit with a thick Southern accent), I heard “to bed we go” because I knew that was what was coming.

Sadly, Shadrach, Meshach, and “to bed we go” weren’t the only names I got wrong. In elementary school, there was “Elemeno,” that peculiar letter in the alphabet that came before the letter “P.” As a teenager (and for many years afterward), I sang some embarrassingly incorrect lyrics from Starship’s hit song “We Built This City.” Instead of “We built this city on rock and roll,” I would happily croon, “We built this city on sausage rolls.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one. Recently, I discovered that there’s actually a term for this; “mondegreen” means a word or phrase that results from mishearing or misinterpreting a statement or song lyric. In fact, it’s quite common in human behavior. A study at the Baylor College of Medicine concluded that when our brains attempt to process imprecise information (like a song lyric that we’re not sure about), the blanks are filled in based on our own biases, prior beliefs, or expectations.

If you ask me, there’s a lot of “mondegreening” going on in our world these days. That’s understandable because as a society, we are terrible listeners. We form our answer or opinion before someone else’s sentence is even finished. We make assumptions that aren’t in evidence (as we used to say in the law). We form conclusions about what people are saying, filling in the blanks based on our biases, prior beliefs, and expectations.

In fact, we worship assumptions just as the ancient Babylonians worshipped the golden idol of King Nebuchadnezzar from my favorite “to bed you go” story in Daniel. There, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into a fiery furnace because they refuse to worship the golden idol of King Nebuchadnezzar, but an angel joins them in the fire, not only saving them, but transforming the heart of the king.

Sadly, we continue to worship at that golden idol of assumptions. Maybe it’s when our spouse or partner starts to tell us something, and we cut them off because we already “know” what they are going to say. Maybe it’s when we quickly click the remote because we’ve “heard all we need to hear.” Or maybe it’s when we refuse to listen to another side of an argument or story or dismiss an insight from someone with whom we disagree.

However it occurs, this refusal to listen tends to result in incomplete and inaccurate understandings of what is being said. We then fill in the blanks with our assumptions – kind of like when you know that your dad is trying to get you to sleep, so you hear “to bed we go” instead of “Abednego.”

The bottom line is that we repeat what we think we hear. And if we repeat it long enough, it becomes our truth.

Listening is a holy ritual that we should perform with grace and love every day. What if we refuse to worship at the idol of assumptions? What if, instead, we lean on our faith to give us more patience, empathy, and understanding? When we step out in faith, powerful forces will come to our aid—like, perhaps, an angel standing by us whispering, “take a breath; let them talk; hear their story.”

Sure, I’ll continue to belt out incorrect song lyrics that will mortify my family and friends, but I hope the inaccuracies will stop there. Singing a song lyric that the writer never intended is a wrong, but putting words into other people’s mouths is a whole ‘nother kind of wrong.

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How You Can Make Someone’s Day Better in 21 Seconds – www.ethicsdaily.com

How You Can Make Someone’s Day Better in 21 SecondsMitch Carnell
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 5:36 am

How You Can Make Someone's Day Better in 21 Seconds | Mitch Carnell, Kindness

When we enlarge our circle to bring others in, we open ourselves to new experiences, new ideas and a broader understanding of our world. We can do this in 21 seconds, Carnell says.

“It only takes 21 seconds to be kind to someone.” That’s what Wayne Soares told a Boys and Girls Club in Boston.

Soares, a former sports broadcaster on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports, is now an author and motivational speaker.

He recounted an episode from his youth with his Boston Red Sox idol. His idol missed a golden opportunity to encourage him but instead treated him with disrespect. “He embarrassed me and it was mean.”

Soares then performed a little role-play demonstrating kindness and had an attendee time him.

“How long did that take?” Soares asked.

“Twenty-one seconds,” the student replied.

In 21 seconds, we can brighten another person’s day. We can make her or him feel good about herself or himself. It doesn’t take much time or cost any money to turn an encounter into a positive one.

Joel Osteen, a mega-church pastor, says that it is not his calling to beat people down. They come to church already beaten down. “I want to lift people up.”

If I ask you, what is the meanest thing someone ever said to you, you could answer me instantly. On the other hand, if I ask you what is the nicest thing someone ever said to you, you would have a hard time remembering.

I often use an exercise where I ask my listeners about words. When I ask them for nice words, they are very slow in answering. When I ask them about mean or ugly words, the words tumble out in torrents.

When others say kind things to us, we are often suspicious. “What do you want?” we think to ourselves.

Sometimes it is because we have been stung by someone who does have ulterior motives, but why do we varnish everyone with the same brush? Certainly we don’t want to be fooled or trapped again, but isn’t that an unhealthy way to live our lives?

Yes, there are those who will take advantage of our trusting nature, but I refuse to give control of my life over to those people. In my experience, there are far more people who are kind and generous. I am going to take my chances with them.

I want to be a person who encourages others. I want others to be happy that I am in their lives, and I want others to be glad to see me.

I am always happy to see my friend, Ken Willingham, a business executive who always has a smile on his face and kind words to share. Ken maintains that small words, such as “please” and “thank you,” make all the difference in how people react to us.

Our folk language tells us that we catch more flies with honey than we do with vinegar. The Bible tells us, “To let no evil talk come out of our mouth,” and that, “A soft word turns around wrath.” We know these things to be true.

Since I first read the poem, “Outwitted,” by Edwin Markham, I have had many occasions to reflect on its simple message.

He drew a circle that shut me out;
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!

When we enlarge our circle to bring others in, we open ourselves to new experiences, new ideas and a broader understanding of our world. We can do this in 21 seconds.

My late wife had a gift for making others feel accepted and valued. While teaching 3-year-olds in kindergarten, a little boy came to her distraught. All the other boys were wearing superhero underwear, but his was stark white.

She said, “You have superhero underwear. You are the Ice Man.” The little boy bounded off to join his friends as happy as he could be in his Ice Man hero underwear.

Soares said that as a young boy the treatment he received from his idol frightened him. Remember the Ice Man story when you are about to put someone down, give someone the cold shoulder or ignore his or her presence.

Being kind requires so little of us, but the rewards are so great.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant sp

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