Let's start with a feel-good: 97 Year Old Woman Gets a Diploma -- Washington Post
She had to drop out during the Depression:
“When I told her she was getting a diploma, she sobbed as if a pain had been relieved from her heart,” [her daughter] said. “I never knew what it meant to her. She wanted this.”
The Minister's Treehouse -- Colossal
A self house! Built over 11 years and without blueprints:
More at the link.
What is Food? -- New York Times
Mark Bittman doesn't mince words in his support of Mayor Bloomberg's limiting the size of sugary drinks that are sold in New York:
If the mayor were to ban 32-ounce mugs of beer at Yankee Stadium after a number of D.U.I. arrests — and, indeed, there are limits to drinking at ballparks — we would not be hearing his nanny tendencies. (And certainly most non-smokers, at least, are ecstatic that smoking in public places — including Central Park — is increasingly forbidden.) No one questions the prohibition on the use of SNAP for tobacco and alcohol. And that’s because we accept that these things are not food.
Sugar-sweetened beverages don’t meet [the standard of 'food'] any more than do beer and tobacco and, for that matter, heroin, and they have more in common with these things than they do with carrots.
You're Not Special -- Boston Herald
A high school commencement speech from David McCullough, Jr.
...do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee... I am allowed to say Needham, yes? ...that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians... 37,000 class presidents... 92,000 harmonizing altos... 340,000 swaggering jocks... 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you’re leaving it. So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.
It's downright theological, the way it critiques an overly indulgent, everyone-gets-a-trophy culture... but then flips "you're not special" at the end:
Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Watch the video interview too, as he talks about privilege.
A New Ministry Scorecard -- Progressive Renewal
How's your church doing?
% of people who can articulate a clear sense of vision and purpose for the church
% of active participants in all areas of the life of the church
% of first and second time guests
h/t: Jan Edmiston
The Art of Letting Go -- Harvard Business Review
"You know what," I heard myself saying, "I don't think our work is right for you at this point." He looked slightly stunned. In all honesty, so was I.
I couldn't quite believe I'd let go of a potential client who had explicitly expressed interest in our work. But by the end of the evening, I felt lighter, as if I'd done the right thing for both of us.
Speaking of letting go...
The Good Short Life -- New York Times
After posting this sad story written about a mother's slow, sad and (yes) expensive decline unto death, "The Good Short Life" is a wise and pithy "yes-and":
No, thank you. I hate being a drag. I don’t think I’ll stick around for the back half of Lou [Gehrig's Disease].
I think it’s important to say that. We obsess in this country about how to eat and dress and drink, about finding a job and a mate. About having sex and children. About how to live. But we don’t talk about how to die. We act as if facing death weren’t one of life’s greatest, most absorbing thrills and challenges. Believe me, it is. This is not dull. But we have to be able to see doctors and machines, medical and insurance systems, family and friends and religions as informative — not governing — in order to be free.
It's an uplifting article, really. I discovered it while reading this post, about seeing life's most profound challenges as not debilitating, but "interesting." Easier said than done, but...
I'm on vacation next week, and The Blue Room will be closing up shop while I'm gone. Be good, and savor your life.