Summer 2005 Issue From the Teaching & Sharing Center www.wsharing.org
Important Notice About Renewal
At its May 7th meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Teaching & Sharing Center formally accepted both christian life programs and the poetís circle as DBAs (assumed names) of the non-profit corporation. If you are receiving this you are either already a member of the new T&SC corporation or were previously on the poetís circle mailing list. Under the new corporate structure you now have three levels of possible participation. A little confusion could occur because the word "member" was previously used in relationship to the poetís circle. This is no longer the case. There are two levels of membership (basic and Center Circle) and then the poetís circle which remains a free option for information and use of the T&SC services. If you were previously listed in the poetís circle you have been transferred to the free tpc mailing list. To step up to membership status you need to complete a membership application. If you do not wish to continue on the tpc list simply drop us a note stating your desire.
A T&SC Internet page has these descriptions of the new structure on the wsharing website:
the poet's circle
the poet's circle is the free library privileges and mailing list for the T&SC. It is not required that you become a member of the organization to take advantage of the many services of the T&SC. To be added to the poet's circle all you have to do is ask. You may occasionally be asked to acknowledge your wish to remain on the list by stating so on a renewal card, so we are sending to those we know desire it. Being on the poet's circle list does not constitute membership, nor carry member benefits.
The T&SC is a Michigan non-profit corporation legally organized on a membership basis. Members form the decision making base from which the organization operates. They elect the Board of Trustees, and decide on other matters brought before them. In addition to voting privileges (for those 18+ yrs old), members receive a 10% discount on most purchases at the T&SC, Cherokee Bill's Trade Center or a touch of william. Membership, of course, also entitles you to library usage, newsletters, and anything else available to the poet's circle. To become a member you need to complete an application and pay the appropriate annual fee shown on that page.
Like any non-profit organization, we need volunteers and contributions beyond the basic membership dues in order to make things happen. The Center Circle was authorized by the Board of Trustees, as a way of acknowledging those who have a greater involvement in the Teaching & Sharing Center. You may become a member of the Center Circle by accepting a trustee or director (volunteer) position. Or, you may commit financially to a monthly equivalent of your annual membership dues. (For example, the annual membership fee for an individual is $15. Contributions of or exceeding $15 per month, $45 quarterly, or $180 annually qualifies you, if that is your membership status)
Center Circle members have all the benefits and privileges of both the poet's circle and Member's Circle. Additionally, you would be eligible for the key holder program, a special consignment rate at Cherokee Bill's Trade Center, and the wholesale buyer's club (WBC). The WBC allows you to special order through the T&SC any item available in Cherokee Bill's Trade Center at its wholesale price (subject to minimum order requirements). This can be quite a benefit at birthdays, Christmas, and other gift giving times, as well as many items for your normal daily needs. The Membership Services Director can provide you with more information. There is no special form for the Center Circle. You simply complete the standard membership application (to ascend to the Center Circle as a volunteer you need to have a paid basic membership in one of the categories).
From Emails Received ó A Billion?
The next time you hear a politician casually use the word "billion", think about whether you want that politician spending your tax money. A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases.
A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
A billion hours ago
our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
A billion days ago
man was not walking the earth.
A billion dollars ago
was only 8 hours and 20 minutes,
at the rate the government spends it.
Your Involvement Is Needed
As with any organization, it will take many hands for things to happen and grow. The Board of Trustees has authorized the creation of three volunteer positions (each of which would qualify you for Center Circle status). It is envisioned that they would function as a team since they are related.
If God has graced you with organizational and marketing talents this position involves processing the membership applications, sending cards and a verification letter, sending renewal notices once a year, and finding ways to highlight what we are and do for potential members. This is an essential volunteer position for the ongoing viability of the T&SC. (Vice-President Joan Nolff is functioning as interim and could help you get started as director).
Membership Services Director
If God has blessed you with people skills and some writing and organizational skills, helping members utilize their benefits (such as the wholesale buyers club and the keyholder's program), keeping them informed with the M7N newsletters, and using your imagination to develop member events could be a good way to use your gifts.
If God has gifted you with a love of reading (or watching videos or listening to audio tapes) and the desire to make such materials available to others we could use your gifts in the Library Director volunteer position. This is an area which often fell behind on the (williamís) priority list, and having someone filling this position could be of immense benefit to even the greater Grand Ledge community.
More Possibilities To Use Your Gifts
We, of course, wish there were stacks of cash just waiting to pay expenses after being processed, but the treasurer position on the board of trustees wonít be overburdened by any stretch of the imagination. Our accounting system is all computerized. And, the accounts are all set up. If you know how to make a bank deposit and push a button on a keyboard or mouse you could fill this position. We would prefer that it be someone who God has given a joy for working with numbers, but it does need to be filled. Perhaps you would like to learn how easy it is to use the computer program, Quicken.
Helping us can help you. We need member volunteers willing to seek out and apply to sources for grants for the Teaching & Sharing Center. These can be online searches or otherwise. We actually have some leads but need people who can check them out. The board of trustees has approved a 7% commission for any member who secures a grant for the Teaching & Sharing Center. On a $7,000 grant, for instance, that would put almost $500 into your pocket. Any such income would be reported as 1099 independent contractor income for tax purposes.
We also need somebody to keep track of who is working on what. This volunteer position would qualify you for Center Circle member status.
Fall Color Cruise & Island Festival
The T&SC has for 13 years been a behind the scenes participant in Grand Ledgeís Fall Color Cruise & Island Festival assisting Project Lakewell with their French Fur Traderís (Voyageur) Encampment. They were wavering about doing the festival in 2005, but several of our members and trustees are also involved with Lakewell, so the T&SC Board of Trustees has approved our stepping to the forefront as a joint participant with Lakewell members (Lakewell presenters are independent contactors - the organization itself is not involved) in the encampment. The FCC&I Festival is October 7th, 8th and 9th with set-up on the late afternoon/evening of the 6th this year. Particularly for those of you who have said we do not get enough exposure, this is an opportunity to change that. We will need willing hands to help set up on the 6th and tear down on the 9th. We will also need members who are willing to be at the encampment to answer questions about the Center over the three days (you do not need to participate all three days). Lakewell people will be there to explain about Voyageur history and their organization, so you do not need to be in costume or worry about any of that. Although you can (be in costume), if that interests you. Our annual membership meeting is also on Saturday the 8th (October) and we are going to do that in an open house style with a "bring a dish"potluck as a part of it. You will receive details of the meeting in a mailing as prescribed in our by-laws at a later date, but this (FCC&IF) has been, and can be a really fun weekend for all involved. Sarah Gibbons will be the on-site "in charge" person for the encampment. She is a presenter for Project Lakewell and a member of our board of trustees. Contact the Center and let us know if you are willing to help (and have some fun), and weíll pass your name along to her.
A change in Article V, Section 2, to eliminate the phrase, "but in all events an odd number." was approved by the board in July, and will be ratified at the board meeting in October. Comments on this change can be addressed to any trustee.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
"1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3inhuman, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power."
Does any of this sound like a society you are familiar with? Of course it does, but thatís not why it has been shared here. As we embark on our corporate existence it would be easy to become so focused on ourselves (T&SC corporation and the Center) that we forget the many objectives and missions that precipitated our creation. This would be especially easy for us because the very existence of the Center, unattached to any church, is itself a ministry to the community and all who encounter its presence. It is obvious that some focus needs to be paid to paying the expenses of the physical location. But, let us always keep in mind why we do it, and that this is an organization that expands outward not inward.
Native American Christian Worship
Wiconi International, which both nationally and internationally is a significant voice in the Spirit guided movement to accept people in Christ as God created them and their heritages, had the following in a recent newsletter, which bears repeating.
"Incarnational ministry is when the Word of God comes alive to us; the life, power and presence of Christ is manifested as part of our living reality. Our pursuit of culturally relevant ministry Ė contextualization Ė is not about drums, feathers and dancing. It is about the manifest presence of God's glory. Here was a tribal elder, singing in a language most of us did not understand that reflected the style and sounds of his land, that led us, the Body of Christ into the holy of holies Ė THAT is what we are after. THAT is what is going to bring spiritual freedom, deliverance and transformation to our First Nations communities across the land. Not only that, but I believe it what is going to help lead the church into a new experience of God's presence as the Ďindigenous sounds of the earthí are released into the Body of Christ."
Some More From Emails Received
Weíre not vouching for the science given here, but if it is true this becomes a very interesting email . . .
DO YOU KNOW the difference between margarine and butter? Read on, the end
gets very interesting!
And now, for Margarine . . .
THIS PART IS VERY INTERESTING! Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE
away from being PLASTIC.
YOU can try this yourself: purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within just a few days you will note a couple of things: no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something) . . . it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value, nothing will grow on it . . . even those teeny weenie micro-organisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast? Tell your friends (Butter them up!)
The Twenty and the One
A well-worn one dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. "I've had a pretty good life," the twenty proclaimed. "Why I've been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean." "Wow!" said the one dollar bill. "You've really had an exciting life!" "So tell me," says the twenty, "where have you been throughout your lifetime?" The one dollar bill replies, "oh, I've been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church . . ." The twenty dollar bill interrupts, "What's a church?"
The best vitamin for a Christian is B1.
Under same management for over 2000 years!
Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk.
Don't wait for the hearse to take you to church.
Don't give up. Moses was once a basket case.
Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.
Wal-Mart isn't the only saving place!
Prevent truth decay. Brush up on your Bible.
It's hard to stumble when you're down on your knees.
What part of "Thou Shalt Not" don't you understand?
Never give the devil a ride. He will always want to drive.
Can't Sleep? Try counting your blessings.
Forbidden fruit creates many jams.
God answers knee-mail.
Try Jesus. If you don't like Him, the devil will always take you back.
SEX & SIN
I was loaned a book recently which was written over 35 years ago, but the following excerpt really caught my attention as relevant to Christians today. The original was not written specifically about Christians so I have used my "poetic license" to adjust it.
"We've got a problem in America. It's a problem, in a sense, that all of Western civilization has, but it's worse here. Put yourself in the place of [an ordinary Christian] for a moment. Imagine you are [in a Christian community] and you are walking around and you notice this huge animal. He is ninety feet tall - like an elephant - but ninety feet tall. And he's walking around [the community] and he's not very careful where he walks. And occasionally he steps on a whole bunch of people and they are all dead. And you see this going on around you. And you look at your fellow [Christians] and they aren't looking at the animal. They are just going about their business. The animal is just about to put his foot down and they walk right under the foot and get crushed. And nobody says a word about it. Everybody goes on as if nothing was happening. And you see all of it. And you see this animal lie down on a building and he crushes the whole building and gets up. But there is nothing in the news about it. Nobody ever says anything about this animal. Wouldnít you start questioning your sanity? Well, to my mind, this huge animal represents the specter of sexuality in [Christian communities - churches and organizations]."
If you think this is a bit of an exaggeration just ask someone in a position of authority in the Catholic Church what they think. But, I wouldnít point any fingers because you can rest assured whatever your denomination is, it has its share of sexual issues not being addressed openly, or objectively discussed.
I received a Christian organizationís magazine a month or so ago which had an article titled similarly to this one. I thought it was great that sex was being talked about, so I took the time to read the lengthy article. But, it simply made me angry because it was the same old rhetoric ó sex is good because God made it; but God made it for heterosexual marriage only; so any other sex is bad; including that which is only in your thoughts; homosexuality is especially bad, and sex on TV and in the movies is really-really offensive. It was basically a waste of my time.
If thatís all the better churches or Christian organizations can do in their discussions of sex, I think we should make the following rules for any given Sunday or workday and see what happens. You would not be allowed to attend church or come to work unless the following two criteria were met:
1. You are in a completely fulfilling legal (sexually speaking) heterosexual marriage.
2. You do not question any of your sexual/sensual behavior or thoughts as sinful.
I could be wrong, but I think worship and the (Christian) workplace would be quite empty if sex were as cut and dried to deal with as it is treated.
The (ELCA) Lutheran Church made an attempt not too long ago to have a dialog in local congregations about sexuality which would be sent up the line so the national church could use it to set some of their official positions. I applaud the effort, but if our local congregation was any barometer for how it went, hardly anybody was willing to participate, and the discussion centered mostly around how the church was going to handle homosexuality. This (homosexuality) is the primary "sin" topic of the Christian community these days, as if there werenít enough other areas to go around. Contemporary Irish writer John Waters in his book "Every Day Like Sunday?" has this to say: "It is undoubtedly true that, by narrowing the definition of "morality" to embrace only sex, the Church and the hierarchy effectively yielded authority in all other areas. They also, of course, yielded authority in matters of sexuality, because the high standards they prescribed, being unattainable for most people, were privately ignored."
It seems a pretty fair assessment of things. Once in a while you will see a denomination or organization take a verbal stand against war, or something, but I doubt you will find them personally admonishing their biggest donor for his, or her, sin of having more than they need (greed or perhaps even covetousness) while others not so far from there go hungry, or without a roof over their head. I saw the quote "nobody should have two houses until everybody has one" for the first time and was struck at the similarity it had to words straight from Jesusí mouth. But, letís get back to sex.
That elephant stepped on my ability to stay on track with my mission several years back, as a number of you already know. A woman visited the Center who was on staff at a church but didnít feel she could openly discuss her philosophies with the pastors there. Over the course of talking about things, she asked if I would be willing to co-lead something she was putting together at the church. I told her I would pray about it. At a subsequent visit she made to the Center, as she was about to leave, she asked about my decision. I had sensed the Holy Spirit saying sexuality and ego were issues pertaining to the situation. With some hesitation, I told her that. From the get-go it became clear that sexuality was not something to be talked about with her. I have learned the hard way, the more you try to fix something going badly, the worse it gets, and worse it got. The next day her husband showed up accusing me of trying to seduce his wife, and admonishing he knew right off that all that hugging and Godís Peace stuff was a facade to lure women in unsuspecting. I was totally blind-sided. I didnít have the wits about me to point out that she had sought me out, and it was precisely to be able to speak about things openly and honestly that she couldnít in the church community. While there was no question that I had not been doing what he was accusing me of, I spent at least a year emotionally questioning my motives and choices of words. It severely impacted how openly I was willing to discuss certain issues with others, or even my own journey and struggles. Even today, as I write this, I question if enough years have passed to speak openly and objectively about this experience. Such is the power of the sexual (and sensual). And, it is our unwillingness as Christians to acknowledge we need to start talking about this giant elephant in real terms, not hypothetical "perfect world" scenarios, that give it so much destructive power in our lives.
I donít have a bunch of answers to specifics. Thatís what makes dialog so valuable. What I do have is a re-commitment to the openness with which I began my spiritual journey 20 years ago. And just in case anybody is wondering, when a beautiful actress takes off all of her clothes in front of me on the big, or small, screen, I do not find it offensive. If it proceeds into sex with some handsome actor, I am not appalled. I can acknowledge that the portrayed circumstances in any given movie or show may not be in the best interests of healing what ails us as a society. But, I am a quite healthy "normal" American male. When I became a Christian the Holy Spirit began to guide me to make choices in new ways. My status as a human being remained.
During the Lincoln-Douglas debates almost 150 years ago. After a long and puffy speech by Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln asked the audience, "How many legs would a horse have if you called his tail a leg?" "Five, called out some of the onlookers. "Four," replied Lincoln. "Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it true." (March 2005 AARP Bulletin)
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Petrty amzanig, huh?
A Memberís Response
"Some of these Christian writers should consider calling themselves lost instead of calling other people lost. Jesus died for all of us! I donít think non-Christians like being talked down to or looked down upon! Our admonition is to "love." In loving we find the best in each person, and marvel at Godís grace when we look at ourselves."