Summer 2004 Issue From the Teaching & Sharing Center www.wsharing.com
While itís been nip and tuck, and pretty slim at times, the Teaching & Sharing Center is still here. Even though only the basic expenses have been able to be covered, I work on the assumption that as long as that is the case, it is Godís will to continue. Thank you to those who express their belief the Center is a valuable presence in the community by contributing.
THOUGHTS ON INDEPENDENCE DAY
Because I do not make an issue of it, many of you may not know that your membership in the poetís circle "renews" every July 4th. I chose the date many years ago because pretty much everything the Center teaches, or stands for, focuses in some measure around freedom. At the very core of these freedoms rests the freedom to be who God created you (each of us individually) to be. It is not as easy a path as it might seem in this land of democracy. I still must frequently proceed in the face of criticism that a faith refusing to seek out personal wages is unrealistic, regardless of what the Bible says about chasing after money. And those who try to expound the right of Native Americans to remain as God created them, even in their Christian walk, face opposition on many fronts. Yet freedom still reigns for it is one of the ultimate Truths.
I find it sad when I experience, in otherís challenges or criticisms, their own enslavements. Just a couple of days ago a woman stopped to ask me to sign a petition in an area she knew we likely shared some values. Further assuming an across the board conservative perspective she asked if I would also sign a petition to allow Ralph Nader to be on the presidential ballot in Michigan. Knowing her to be an ardent Bush supporter, I indicated that while what she was asking was shrewd politics, it was questionably moral as I view things, and I could not in good conscience sign it. This launched us into a discussion of a number of issues I am looking at as I consider the candidates. At every juncture she jumped in with standard party line rhetoric. And, while it is not my place to judge what is in her heart, her voice carried no sense of freedom with it. Only the desire to have "her side" win pervaded what she said. What I came away with from all her efforts was not a new perspective on Bush, but a sadness that too often, on both sides of the fence, I see and hear these dynamics played out.
One of her comments, in the midst of our discussion, was she didnít understand why so many people were "down" on America. A couple of days later a discussion at church similarly focused on the question of what it means to be patriotic and Christian. As a person who is willing to look squarely at our flaws some might call me unpatriotic. Yet, I believe ours is the greatest country, and experiment in democracy, ever to grace the earth. But it is not finished ó we have not "arrived." An area evidencing that is how we have historically treated those who are "different" ó in their viewpoints, cultural expression, physical attributes, etc. ó both within and outside of our borders. As recently as the treatment of Arab-Americans after the September 11, 2001 attack reminds us we still have much maturing to do. Personally I was most proud of our President when before the war he refused to criticize and defended the rights of those protesting our prospective involvement as an example of our freedom, the very thing he was purporting to protect. Yet many do not share this tolerance of freedom. My son recently started a website on which one of the quotes (by Benjamin Franklin) states, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." There is no shortage of those who brand differing, particularly minority, viewpoints as unpatriotic. But from my perspective, to try to deny someone the right to voice their conscience through verbal, physical, or any kind of abuse or intimidation, is the ultimate unpatriotic, un-American, act. If even only 1% are held silent by all the rest, then neither are the 99% truly free. The illusion of freedom is not freedom.
I recently read an article in a book my daughter gave to me in which John Waters speaks about VŠclav Havelís (President of Czechoslovakia in 1990) viewpoint of "the profound crisis of human identity brought about by living within a lie." None of us has likely cornered truth with a capital "T." We are all at various stages of growth, and the best we can do, in Peace Pilgrimís words, is "live according to the highest light that you have." For me that includes freedom for all. Even those who would deem me unrealistic or unpatriotic as I try to walk the truth of my conscience and choices in my relationship with Christ.
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
The Center helped to create a successful Lenten (40 days) small group program at Immanuel Lutheran Church this spring by offering The Purpose Driven Life book to participants at the wholesale cost. Some 50 individuals gathered weekly, split among five groups on four different days, to discuss the book.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
My wife, Donna, has wanted to become involved with Habitat for Humanity for quite some time. So, when our church joined several others in a Habitat build project (May thru July 2004), there wasn't any real question about whether we would be participating. Personally, I've spent more than enough time in my life with a hammer and various other tools in my hand. Thus, when Habitat called, having seen photographer on my volunteer sheet, and asked if I would be willing to take pictures, trading a hammer for a camera was not a difficult decision. However, as many things do, it blossomed into a bigger project than I originally envisioned. I have donated 3 photo CDs to Habitat so far, with a total of 3000 pictures on them. I have 400 more waiting to be added to a 4th CD. And, since Habitat does not have their website up and running yet, I developed some pages for mine in Scrapbook Photos which turned into 15 pages including 13 galleries.
JOHN TWO-HAWKS & MANACH CONCERT
On June 24th John Two-Hawks and Seamus Byrne (Manach) once again graced Grand Ledge (at the Opera House) with their beautiful music. Because of our assistance and friendship Cherokee Billís Trade Center was listed as one of the sponsors of the event. I (CBTC) also stock and sell their CDís here at the Center, so if you, or someone you know, was wondering where you could purchase them locally, you now know where to come (or send them).
I apologize that some of you without email may not have been made aware of the concert. I simply didnít have the time nor resources to send a paper mailing to all members of the poetís circle. I did manage to get two emails out via the Internet to those members on the tpc-TEC list. This would be one reason, if you have an email address, you need to be sure I have it listed in the tpc-TEC distribution list, even if you indicate a preference to continue receiving newsletters and such in their paper form.
APPLIED FOR A GRANT
Late last year, as I was deliberating on the fate of the Center, I was referred to The National Christian Foundation for a possible grant. As it turned out, they did not accept grant applications except between June 1st and July 15th so I put a reminder on my calendar for the first week in June, and sort of kept that in view, as the goal, to try to make it to financially. Upon applying for the grant, I received the confirmation email which stated "grant determinations will be made by October 15th and grant monies mailed by the end of the year." So much for holding my breath until June, but the grant has been applied for.
DO YOU SURF THE INTERNET?
It has been immensely time consuming soliciting support and tracking down leads for potential grants. Most lead to dead ends when the foundations require 501c3 non-profit corporation status. If any of you spend time surfing the Internet and would like to search for possible grants for the Center, I would be more than happy to pay a 10% finders fee to you if a grant is actually forthcoming from a source you found. Itís win-win for us both.
WONDERING ABOUT DIGITAL CAMERAS?
Now that Iíve been using a digital camera for over nine months Iíve had several people ask me about what to consider if buying one. I thought this might be a good time to discuss some of the basics.
My Kodak DX6340 is a 3.1 mega pixel camera. But, what does that mean? Most of you know that TV screens are just a bunch of colored dots. Pixel is simply another word for a square dot. 3.1 mega pixels means, when I take a digital picture, the electronics in the camera has the ability to record 3.1 million dots (pixels) to create the photo.
So how do you determine how many mega pixels you need your digital camera to be? It all depends on what size of pictures you want to print. Almost any size will do for emails or displaying on a website. Let me explain. When I take a photo on the "best" setting it creates a rectangular picture 1524 pixels by 2032 pixels (1524 x 2032 = 3,096,768). The determining factor for size is how many of those dots (pixels) you want to squeeze into an inch. The more dots you have in a space, the crisper and more defined a picture will look. On the Internet I only have the computer put 100 dots per inch (dpi). That usually makes a pretty nice looking picture. Many people only use 64 or 72 dpi for emails, etc. But, thatís not enough dots in an inch for a nice looking printed picture. For a good quality photo print you should have 200 or 300 dpi (dots per inch).
OK, letís see how that works with my camera. I have those 1524 pixels by 2032 pixels to work with. If I put 100 of them in an inch I can have a picture as big as 15 by 20 inches (1524 divided by 100 = 15.24). But, if I want to put 300 dots into each inch (dpi) of picture, I will use up my available pixels (dots) at a 5 by 7 (actually 6.77) size. At around 200 dpi I can print a reasonably good quality 8 x 10 picture. If your desire is to print good 4 x 6 size photos, anything at, or above, 3 mega pixels is more than adequate. If you want to print really big stuff then youíll need to consider the bigger mega pixel cameras. A cautionary note though; really big pixel files create really big memory used (kilobytes, megabytes) files in your computer. A friend with a 6 mega pixel camera sent me some photos that were so big I had to switch from the photo program I usually use to a newer one in my computer.
Which brings me to the next consideration. Getting the photos into your computer or printer. I really like the Kodak system. I bought a base along with the camera which is always connected to my computer. I just set the camera on the base, push a button and the photos load into the computer. If I leave the camera on the base it recharges the battery (takes an hour or so to fully recharge) as well.
The other main thing I tell people to be aware of is the zoom lens. Most cameras Iíve seen tout an optical zoom lens, and a digital zoom. Rather than using millimeters they usually say something like 4x or 2x in which case the bigger the number, the closer you can zoom in on your subject. I suggest going with the best optical zoom and paying little to no attention to digital zoom. With optical zoom the lens configuration itself (you can usually see it move) is creating the closeness and you get the full pixel count in the closeup without degradation. So if you see one camera with 4x optical and 4x digital zoom, and another with 2x optical and 6x digital zoom, even though they will both advertise (a total) of 8x zoom capability, go with the bigger optical zoom. Youíll get much better photos.
My 35mm camera equipment is Canon and I was looking at a Canon digital along with the Kodak. If I were to start looking at higher priced equipment I would probably check out the Canon line again. But for medium range cameras the price, reliability, and convenience sold me on the Kodak. I paid $415 for the camera, the base, and a 128MB photo card. The camera was right around $300. I calculated once that it costs me 30Ę every time I take a 35mm photo. I got back (saved) the cost of my digital in 2 months.
THE DOWNSIDE OF DIGITAL FOR ME?
Iíll bet many of you can guess what the biggest downside of digital is for me. Yeah, I take too many pictures! Without the cost outlay of 35mm film and developing, there is no limit except what the photo card will hold until I upload the photos to the computer. I got my digital camera last October and just turned over (like an odometer) number 9999 to 0001, which means Iíve already taken over 10,000 photos with it. Taking the pictures is only half the work. They need to be sorted, re-numbered to my system, and formatted for their use (like website).
GREY FEATHERS ADVISORY COUNCIL
Although my personality, with 30 years of being a sole-proprietor, does not lend itself well to committee and council type processes, a couple of years ago I felt lead to create the Grey Feathers Advisory Council. I have periodically prepared a questionnaire concerning decisions about the Center, and related areas, and sent it to this group for their input. While I am not bound to, in every case where there was a clear consensus, I have abided by their counsel.
I chose the Native sounding name for this group mostly
from a vision (intuitive moment), but also because of the respect and
honor which has traditionally been given in First Nations society to
elders. I wanted the name to reflect that this is how I perceive those who
serve in this capacity.
I am still just short of the full intended number of those on the Council. In the past I have waited to have the Holy Spirit reveal an individual whom I should ask to serve. Recently, I have felt lead to put a more open request into this newsletter, so I am assuming there is someone (or two), whom I would not necessarily think of, who is supposed to be a part of this group.
There are two criteria for being a member of the Grey Feathers:
1. You must take your spiritual life seriously. It needs to be a daily integral walk, not just something done once a week.
2. You need to be older than I am ( I turn 54 in September 2004).
If you meet those criteria and feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to serve in this capacity let me know and I will add your name to the Council mailing list.
WICONI INTERNATIONAL REQUEST
As I was wrapping up this issue of the Mini7News the following request came in Wiconiís "Smoke Signals" email newsletter:
"On Saturday, August 7th, there will be an historic intercessory prayer gathering convened in Bend, Oregon on Mt. Bachelor. It will be a time for people of the Northwest to pray for twelve hours, simply for the Father's heart to be released for the healing of the land and spiritual renewal. I have been asked to lead the first hour of prayer along with a team of First Nations believers from NW tribes. We will have a big drum, some dancers, and tribal elders/leaders who will lead this hour of prayer and worship. As the Holy Spirit leads, we may repent for the sins of our fathers, our unforgiveness, judgment and bitterness, pray for the release of ancient curses and pray a blessing over the land as the Host Nations. Several thousand people are gathering. Please join us in prayer for Ďthe Kingdom to come and His will be doneí in the Pacific Northwest as Ďit is in heaven.í"
CLOSE ON A CHUCKLE
I stored a quip in my computer from a previous "Smoke Signals" which gave me a chuckle. Iíll close with that . . .
"Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, ĎMy Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.í The second boy says, ĎThat's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.í The third boy says, ĎI got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon. And it takes eight people to collect all the money!í"