meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

The Problem with Evangelism

Despite the title, this is NOT a post about religion; it’s a post about a mindset.

The word evangelize is closely associated with Christianity, but in a broader sense, it means “to convert.”   Christians were instructed to spread the Good News (Mark 16:15.)

When a person discovers Good News, it is natural for them to spread it!  Whether it is an enjoyable story, a funny video, a quote that rings true, a beautiful picture or an article that we find insightful, we want to SHARE it!  That’s what’s happening on Facebook all the time, right??

This is even more true when we have a powerful personal experience, witness a life-changing event, or experience a breakthrough.  SHARING is CARING, and of course we want to help others with our newfound knowledge and insights.

sharingcaring

If our intention is to help others by sharing, then how could there be a downside?

Evangelists are not inherently bad people.  They care passionately about others, and because they have had such a good experience, they want the same for others.

Some of the most fervent evangelists I know are exercise evangelists.  They have found a regimen that works for them, and all they can talk about is how wonderful it is and how YOU and everybody else should do it.

There are diet evangelists.   We see the evidence for various diets, the people who have had successful experiences, and they can be very convincing.   But we know that not everyone who tries the diet will have the same success.

Is it good for our bodies to eat right and exercise?  Absolutely!  A sharing approach will present information about how eating and exercising affects our bodies.  A sharing approach will acknowledge that bodies are individual, and respond differently to foods and activities.  A sharing approach will allow the individual to take personal responsibility for its own decisions and will encourage the individual to experiment with different approaches, to learn to recognize how his/her body responds in its own way, and to develop an approach that works for that individual.

PURE SHARING is done for the sake of sharing, with no expectation of anything in return, including the receiver’s agreement or appreciation.

PURE SHARING could be considered an aspect of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Evangelism is Conditional Sharing.  It expects an outcome of Agreement.  And because the goal of this kind of sharing is focused on the outcome, any method to get to the goal is justified.  Have you noticed how evangelism uses fear, shame and guilt to manipulate people into conforming?

An evangelical approach to diet and exercise will use fear, shame and guilt to “motivate” people to “do the right thing.”  It will make people feel “less than” if they don’t stick to the program and get the “right” results.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the underlying reason that many people “fail” in their attempts to “get healthy” – negative motivation is inherently offensive to one’s self.  Positive motivation, however, is empowering and promotes healing and health.

There are evangelists that are FOR things and those who are AGAINST things.  In many cases, once someone with an evangelical mindset determines what this thing is, no amount of logic or contrary evidence will sway them from their crusade to convert the world.  They are so convinced that this is right for them (which is a great thing) but they are also convinced that it is right for EVERYONE ELSE as well.

And that is the problem.

The underlying truth is that we are all equal – equally important, equally worthy.  We are all ONE.  BUT, we are not all the SAME.  This seems simple, but this concept is central to understanding the problem with the evangelical mindset.

We are each UNIQUE aspects of the body of humanity.  And that means, what works for me, may not work for you.  (Another ALO reference, see Animal Liberation lyrics, below.)

The evangelical mindset is very 3D, while PURE SHARING is fifth dimensional.  The evangelical mindset focuses on RIGHT vs. WRONG (3D), rather than having a focus on what is APPROPRIATE (5D).  The first is a one-size-fits-all approach, while the second takes into consideration the uniqueness of each situation and each individual.  The first is about the RULES (3D) and the second is about WISDOM (5D).  In 3D it is all about COMPETING to WIN, while 5D is about ALLOWING.  The third dimension is about CONTROL and the fifth is about FREEDOM.

Many people are so fed up by the prevailing 3D mindset of evangelism, that they assume all sharing is trying to convert them and they become suspicious of any information that is different.  This is an unfortunate consequence of the prevalence of evangelical behavior and the old mindset of Judgment, Rules, Competition and Control.

How to share without evangelizing?  Let go of expectations and the need to be right.  Respect others enough to let them form their own opinions.  For me, when I read a disclaimer that includes the statement that the reader should use his own discretion, I immediately know that this writer has no agenda.  This disclaimer is surprisingly similar whenever I see it:  the advice is, to take to heart what rings true for you and to discard what doesn’t.

Jesus said to spread the Good News.  He did not say to impose your moral code on everyone else.  He did not say to kill people if they didn’t immediately fall into line with your interpretation of what the rules say.  He did not say to hate people and blame people if they didn’t think like you do (actually he said the opposite).  He simply said to SHARE.  With all his emphasis on UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, I believe he wanted us to practice PURE SHARING as an aspect of that Love.

And I knew you were hurt

Playin’ it off like you were tough

Cause I saw your spirit shrivel

When suddenly you thought

You weren’t good enough

And I think it’s sad, so sad

I think it’s bad for our health

To let hurtful words and thorny spurs keep us

From being ourselves

So at the end of the song

The message that comes through

Is you gotta be true to what grows on you

People gonna judge

People gonna always suck you in

Just remember what works for you

May not work for them

 -Animal Liberation, ALO

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Music, Wisdom, Love and Dancing

Concert Review of the Animal Liberation Orchestra, April 27, 2013 at The Blockley in Philadelphia.

backdrop

Oh, you just noticed that I am writing this the day before the concert?  Well, I say, what good is a great review of a great band, the day after the concert – when your reaction is “Darn, I just missed a great time!!”  And since everything is happening in the NOW anyway – time is fluid – it doesn’t matter when I’m writing this.  If you are reading this, then this is the only moment that matters anyway.

But, I digress.  I feel qualified to write a review before the concert because I already know all about how the evening will go.  There will be a very happy crowd, anxious to hear the guys play, all smiling at each other.  There will be silliness, revelry, amazing musicianship, talk of love, fond glances between band members.  The guys will be as happy to see us as we are to see them.   You get the sense that every single time they play, they are humbly grateful that people came out.  No sense of ego.  And these guys would have every reason to be cocky – they are amazing.

The sound will be upbeat.  Zach, Steve, Dan and Dave are four of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.  Zach and Steve have known each other since they were seven years old, and Dan since they were 12.  How fun is that?  Zach will probably have his little disco ball on the corner of the keyboard, there may be a fun hat or other accoutrement, and don’t be surprised if there are beach balls being tossed back and forth between the crowd and the band.  There will be plenty of banter.

silly

Everyone will be excited to see what is included on the setlist.  ALO always mixes it up, and you never know what will emerge.  They’ll throw a cover in there, and it might be Prince, or Van Morrison, or (what has popped up in the past in Philly) Eye of the Tiger.  Plus, true to their jamband status, there will be lots of Lebo, including time with the lap steel.  Oh and I shouldn’t forget to mention there will be Zach on the uke.  It is impossible not to be happy when watching Zach play the uke.

There is a reason we call ourselves ALOvers.  It’s all about the love, a brotherly love.  In that room, it won’t matter how old you are, what you do for a living, or how you look.  It’s all family and all you have to do is have fun and be yourself.

Want to get a sense of what they sound like?  ALO is super accessible.  Go to www.archive.org and search for Animal Liberation Orchestra in the Live Music Archive.  You will be amazed at the number of shows that are there FOR FREE.  And if you can’t make it to the concert tomorrow, it will be streaming live at rmblive.com at 8:30 pm.

Seriously, the ALO community models a new paradigm of being, and the thing is, it’s totally natural and relaxed.  It’s all about sharing and caring, inclusiveness, having fun and being yourself.  If you are so inclined, it can be about thinking deep thoughts (just spend some time with the lyrics) but there’s no pressure to do so.  One of my favorite lines, from Plastic Bubble, sums it up really well:

It’s a crazy, mixed-up world, full of contradictions

And that’s why it hurts so bad sometimes

But that’s also why it’s fun

You can also check out their website at www.alomusic.com.  There are lots of videos there.

Oh, and they even wrote a song about girls like me, LOL!!

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Dimension Shifting as an Aspect of Empathy

Remember, it’s all metaphor, especially when you get to the point where words just don’t seem to do the job anymore.  You know it, you feel it, but you can’t really describe it adequately.  Well, to me, the idea of “dimension shifting” is one of those things.

Celia Fenn describes this idea in one of her channels of Archangel Michael.  First you have to be familiar with the idea of dimensions (see another of her descriptions here).  Maybe a simpler or more familiar way to think about the idea of dimensions is to use the word levels, levels of awareness or perception or spiritual development.

Each of us has moments where we are more “together” or grounded or comfortable in the place where we are.  Then we each have times where we are stretched or out-of-place or uncomfortable.  Sometimes we “rise to the occasion” and sometimes we “sink to their level.”  We have personal paradigms of how the world works, so does everyone else, and it’s what people talk about when they talk about different realities.  Reality is more fluid than we realize.  And I’m not explaining  this very well, but for purposes of this discussion, these situations represent the different levels, and the fact that we all move from one to the other is the shifting.

This is the natural way of it.  We are each different and we each have stuff that we’re good at and stuff that we are working on.  Combine that with the fact that we interact with others that are good at their own stuff and working on their own other stuff.  There are endless combinations even if we are talking about two people.  Get a larger group together and it gets very complex.

If we are aware that this is what’s going on, and that it’s natural and to-be-expected, then we are less likely to get caught reacting in an emotional manner, jumping to judgments that there is something “wrong.”

In the old Third Dimensional paradigm of duality, where everything is either this or that, right or wrong, up or down, there is little room for the complexity or subtlety that I am talking about.  For someone who is fully immersed at a 3D level, the idea that it’s ok for others to “flip flop” or switch sides or associate with someone who “has it wrong” or to be “shifty” is very uncomfortable and this person will likely react and get upset.

At the next level, one doesn’t automatically become upset or fearful or angry that there is a mismatch of perspective, of “levels” or “dimensions.”  One can recognize the mix in what’s going on, and be patient and understanding or open to gaining information.

So, it’s all about being aware of the level where you are, and the level(s) of others around you.  PLUS, add the idea that there are Soul Groups, families of souls that have shared bonds or purposes or origins.  Simply, from a human perspective, there are people that we just “click” with.  We don’t necessarily have to understand why.

There will be times, like on Friday when I had lunch with a “soul sister,” when I can share my deepest thoughts, because she is on a parallel journey to mine.  We can each share an idea in our own words, and because there is a very deep level of openness and trust, well, we just “get” each other.  I can “go there” with her, and it’s amazing.  The understanding is automatic.  I have no doubt that we are connected closely at the soul level.

I can listen to the music of ALO and it resonates with my soul.  I totally “get” the lyrics in my own way.  They speak to me at a very deep level.  Zach, Dan, Steve and Dave feel like brothers, despite the fact I’ve only just met them briefly.  But we share the same space in a certain dimension.  This is hard to put into words, and would sound “weird” if you are thinking about it literally, rather than figuratively.

I can “visit” another person’s space, allow myself to feel where they are for a time.  I don’t have to “agree” with everything they think or decide they are “right” – I can just enjoy knowing and understanding them.  Another word for this skill, for being able to travel to the space of another, is empathy.  To allow a full connection of or response to empathy, the other person must show their true self, be open and trust that the sharing is safe.  The more open both sides, the deeper the connection and level of sharing.

There are instances, however, where two people just aren’t “on the same wavelength.”  Isn’t that amazing that we use that expression??  (It’s all frequency!!)  In these cases, it just is.  No one has to be right or wrong.  It doesn’t even mean that someone is more or less than another, it is just different.  I can still have empathy and be open to understanding.  It just might feel like more work.  These instances provide the greatest opportunity to expand one’s skills in the areas of communication and understanding.  It can also feel very frustrating, which is probably leftover expectations from third dimensional programming.

Even two people who have a high level of empathy and are skilled at shifting can be from two very different Soul Groups.  These two people might be very open and able to share deeply, but they might feel less of a connection or ease in understanding.  From my perspective, this is where there is potential for HUGE advances in Peace and Understanding for Humanity.  When I work on knowing others who are very different than me, but who are able to communicate at a deep level, that interaction feels very, very powerful and exciting.

Maybe the best example of this is the Israel-Love-Iran campaign started by Ronny Edry.  Cutting edge stuff at a whole new level!

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The World is our Playground

Let me tell you a little secret……when you get to the top of that mountain (see my very first post from November 2011) and you look down at all of it, what you are going to realize, is that the entire mountain was actually a playground.  An amusement park with the most amazing variety of rides – some scary, some thrilling, some kind of boring, rides of more kinds than you could ever imagine.  You may have missed some, but others who are looking down with you will be able to tell you about them.

“So, wait,” you might say, “then what is all this serious stuff you have been talking about, then?”

I think Zach Gill puts it best:

 

It’s a crazy, mixed-up world, full of contradictions,

And that’s why it hurts so bad sometimes

But that’s also why it’s fun.       –Plastic Bubble, ALO

 

Just another reason I love ALO – they combine seriousness with silliness, all wrapped up in love.  They are four of the nicest guys I have ever met.

We all need fun and silliness to balance the seriousness of life.

 

 

What’s more fun than a uke?

 

 

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Just One Reason I Love ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra)

Animal Liberation

(music by Lebowitz, Adams & Gill; lyrics by Gill)

 

The animal crouched in the corner

Teeth clenched, ready to kill

The child maintained his ground by the bed

Challenging the creature’s will

Suddenly they stopped

In a fog of blood and tears

Upon the revelation

That the one they fought was a mirror

 

Then the child got up

And the animal knew the time had come

For what was separated long ago

Must now be made into one

The image that binds us

Is a creation of our mind

Let it go and the rest will flow in time

 

And I knew you were hurt

Playin’ it off like you were tough

Cause I saw your spirit shrivel

When suddenly you thought

You weren’t good enough

And I think it’s sad, so sad

I think it’s bad for our health

To let hurtful words and thorny spurs keep us

From being ourselves

So at the end of the song

The message that comes through

Is you gotta be true to what grows on you

People gonna judge

People gonna always suck you in

Just remember what works for you

May not work for them

 

Everybody in the world today

Has an animal they need to liberate

Everybody, everyone

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