Dee's Blog
Mon 01/30/2012
Welcoming the Unexpected
Topic: spirituality

Yesterday, an hour before lunchtime, I got a call from my son.  Did we have any plans for the day?  Nothing really, I assured him.  Suddenly we had wonderful plans.  They decided on the spur of the moment to come our way.  Just as quickly, I figured out that the frig happened to have just enough for 4 adults and 2 granddaughters.

Here they came an hour later, toting three doll cribs filled with baby dolls.  Oh, what joy! 

It's the sudden things that can so lighten our hearts--those things we don't plan which seem to crop up because of the foundations we've laid.  They bring hope for the future and energize us all.  They inspire us to continue the day-to-day mundane tasks whose importance we may even question at the time.  

Rest assured, whether we are speaking to power or simply nurturing others so that they may someday do so at the most unexpected moments, if we keep our focus on the future and how we can help to bring about change in our world, then we truly will have lived life to it's fullest--no matter what the unexpected may be.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:51 PM CST
Sun 01/29/2012
What Gives Me Some Optimism
Topic: Making Changes

 Near my computer, I put a Christmas card I got from my friend Amy this year.  It says:  "the Four phases of Santa:  1. You believe in Santa  2. You don't believe in Santa.  3. You are Santa.  4. You Look like Santa" 

 I'm starting to realize that we must become more like the person we want God to be if we are to self-actualize.  I like to think that, some days, I'm on the way.  Other days, I know I'm very far from it.  Still it remains an aspiration.

My faith still teaches me that institutions and cultures can change over generations if we, as individuals, each do our own part.  None of us are stagnant.  We just move at a snail's pace.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:45 PM CST
Sat 01/28/2012
The Problem with Stereotyping

Adolescents are known for black and white thinking.  "All adults are idiots," one might say to the other.

Adolescents aren't alone in their rigidity that allows for stereotyping. 

Through my years of listening and working with many oppressed and traumatized people, I've noticed that black and white thinking is a common way of being stuck or getting stuck.  To believe that members of a group are all the same as the ones who are oppressors or abusers is a prime example of this. 

Ben Franklin, like almost all colonists of his day, owned slaves and didn't see any problem with doing so until he happened to visit a Negro school run by Rev. William Sturgeon of Philadelphia several years before the Revolutionary War.   Sturgeon's students, Franklin noted, were just as bright as any white-skinned children he'd ever observed.  Because Franklin was a thinking person who was not afraid to entertain new ideas, he began to wrestle with his old belief system, changing his thoughts and attitudes.  Eventually, he concluded that slavery was indefensible.

Adolescents use black and white thinking because they are insecure about themselves and the world they live in.  They are afraid to trust themselves or to trust others outside of their group.  I am convinced it is the same with traumatized people who remain stuck.

Whether we are considering a culture, an institution, or an individual, my own belief in progressive divine revelation leads me to have hope--sometimes faint hope, but a definite hope--that, there are degrees of enlightenment in each of us.  Then, to go on believing that, in time, cultures, institutions, and each of us can deal with our fears and blind spots so that we can see more and more clearly.

It is this hope that keeps me sharing with others what I feel about many things, knowing that sometimes I am speaking from a vantage point of power while at other times I may, even inadvertently, be speaking to powers that I do not even know exist. 

 It is this hope that also keeps me listening.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:27 PM CST
Fri 01/27/2012
Evoking a Powerful Theology
Topic: Power

Do you ever hesitate to share something good with others you may know for fear of their theological interpretation?  Or maybe it's something really bad?

Amazing how the good always gets attributed to "God was watching out for you."  While the bad may bring comments like "You must have done something that took you out of God's graces."

Such theological interpretations serve as a hot stove to me.  I become much more careful what I say, in the same way that I move cautiously around a hot stove.

Oh, that these comments and ideas could be replaced with a powerfully simple:  "That's great!"  or "That's just not fair."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:28 PM CST
Thu 01/26/2012
Needing More than Facts
Topic: Making Decisions

People who think very concretely--and this seems to be an awful lot of professionals in positions of power--define truth as a set of facts that can be taken into a courtroom to prove how a case should be settled.

Truth is far more than a set of facts.  Anyone who has ever watched Law and Order should be able to see this.  Yes, we need the facts.  Beyond that, though, we must understand the deeper principles that determine what we do with the facts, once we have them.

We need to hold certain truths as self-evident.  Do we really believe that everyone on this earth is created equal?  Do we believe that everyone deserves to be treated in such a way that they are able to continue pursuing happiness?  If so, we will not support institutions or organizations who act as if these things do not matter.  If institutions are acting ethically in some ways and not others, we will address the short-comings as we speak up for ourselves or others in order to improve life for everyone.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:43 PM CST
Tue 01/24/2012
Naive Realism
Topic: Making Changes

Those who specialize in defining truth sometimes speak of "naive realism."  It's something we all need in healthy doses to get through the day.  Without it, we'd have to start back at Day One, doing an indepth analysis of everything we see before making the most mundane decision.

There is nothing scientific about naive realism.  When we act on it, we are not setting out to prove anything beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Our actions, choices, and assumptions are based on what seems obvious, in spite of the fact that many of those assumptions are based on illusions that we have been taught to accept without question.

Old people who are "set in their ways" have a lot in common with youngsters who do not know enough to question what they see. 

Naive realism works well for mundane tasks.  How I sweep my kitchen floor doesn't matter much.   When it comes to decisions that impact our world, though, we need the attitude of hymnist Clara H. Scott:  "open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth....."   that "set me free."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:08 PM CST
Mon 01/23/2012
The Power of Much Experience
Topic: Power

When I hold the hand of a child who is looking up at me in trust, I am in awe.  My awe mirrors that child's awe.  I am in awe that he trusts me.  She may be in awe at how anyone so wrinkled and grey could still be alive!

Very few young people keep a sense of awe when it comes to their elders.  That requires maturity that usually takes many years to develop.  Western culture values youth and book learning more than it values age and experience.

Even worse to me, all cultures seem not to trust nor to listen well to young people who have experience beyond their years, due to the traumas of neglect or abuse.  These kids are hard to trust, to be sure, when their behavior masks the truths that their stories tell.  If we, as elders, can find ways to see beyond the behavior long enough to gain from what they have to say, then we certainly speed along the process of maturity that allows them to listen again with awe.

Neither those of us who are old from both years and  experience nor the youth who do not have the years, but are "rich" in experience hold in our hands absolute truth.  What we can have in common, if we dare, is a willingness to challenge the current short-sightedness that can exist in both the young and the old--especially when it comes to institutional short-sightedness. 

Oh, that we may all grow in the skill of listening and considering what new truths we can learn in that process!!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:07 AM CST
Updated: Tue 01/24/2012 3:48 PM CST
Sun 01/22/2012
The Power of Silence
Topic: spirituality

This week I realized how thirsty my soul was to sit in silence with others of like mind.  As I've done from time to time before, I went to sit with my Quaker Friends. 

The church I attended is "unprogrammed."  Unlike many others that have programmed services with leaders, a lot of music and speakers or preachers. 

Recently, I was telling my 12-year-old grandson about the Quakers and their interesting way of worship.  He smiled and said that it sounds very boring.  For my personality, which takes little time to be still, I should think it would be to me, as well.  Yet.......

Whenever I sit in silence, I learn what's most important to me.  My heart searches for what I need to contemplate during this luxurious time.  Most of my thoughts come through musical messages, spiritual songs I have learned to treasure in the past.  Nobody else gets in the way of my communion with God.

Today, I was reminded that the world continues to turn without me thinking about what to do or say.

I was reminded that so many times my greatest witness has been through my refusing to respond to the forces of power that would "pull my strings" and use what I have to say as a trap.  There is truly a time to speak and a time to remain silent.  May God give me the wisdom to know when I need to be silent as much as when I need to speak.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 5:05 PM CST
Sat 01/21/2012
A Little Child Leads

Just forty-eight hours ago, Calysta Cordova was just a 9-year-old student in Colorado Springs.  This morning her face is being shown around the globe.  Not because she was a victim, but because she refused to remain one.

If you've yet to see the story, you can read it at

Calysta's story is especially striking to me because I have a 9-year-old granddaughter.  I cannot imagine what this young girl's family went through for almost 24 hours before they got the wonderful news that she was alive and being transported to a hospital.  I cannot imagine the relief of learning, a few hours later, that the alleged kidnapper had been identified and arrested in large part because the mother of another victim had promptly reported him for molesting her own daughter just hours before Calysta was abducted.

I can only hope that Calysta is able to work through this trauma and to find emotional healing, though it's almost certain that the emotional will take considerably longer than the physical. 

One thing that is certain.  She has already taught us much about the life-saving power of quick thinking and the courage to formulate a plan and act quickly will be passed on to many children and adults learn from her example.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:14 AM CST
Fri 01/20/2012
A "Good Man" Is Hard to Find
Topic: Power

Last night's debate left more questions than answers about the men trying to become the Republican candidate for Presidency this year. 

It reminded me of a story that Ben Franklin once wrote in the Pennsylvania Gazette, of which he was founder and editor.  It was written in response to his difficulty, as an editor growing in power, with trying to please everyone at the same time:

Two grown men--father and son--were travelling with a donkey.  At first, the older man was riding the donkey while the son walked.  People they met began to criticize the old man for making his son walk while he rode in ease.  So he got off and let his son ride.

The next people they met criticized the son for mistreating his father.  The son shrugged and deferred to the father, who suggested they both ride the donkey.

The next people they met accused the two of abusing the donkey with too heavy a load.  So they both got off, took the rope in hand, and let the donkey walk alongside them. 

At that point, the next travellers they met made fun of the two guys for being stupid enough to not put the donkey to practical use at all.  So the father's solution was to suggest that the two of them throw the donkey off the next bridge to be done with the criticism! 

Of course, I've shared this story with you today as a piece of comic relief.  It doesn't exactly fit the current political debates, I guess.

It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, as Lincoln later declared.  Yet isn't it important, in real life, to expect integrity of a President?  I think so--especially when it comes to the basic expectations of how a man treats his wife/wives or one's willingness to be transparent with tax returns.

I hear the "Oh, but nobody is perfect" phrase again.  Give me a break!!  Are we saying "Nobody is honest and that nobody can be expected to stay with spouses who have just learned that they have serious, life-threatening illnesses (as was the case in both Newt's marraiges!)   You can probably give me scores of examples to refute this.  Put my own husband on the list!  Political stands aside, I'm seriously concerned with that line of "reasoning."

What's more:  These guys aren't even Donkeys.  They're Elephants!!  Look out for the Elephants!!!!



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:10 AM CST

Newer | Latest | Older

« January 2012 »
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in