Sunday, January 29, 2012

Faith or Belief. What’s the Difference – Really?

Faith is an act. This is very important to comprehend, because faith has been so watered down over the centuries that we get "having faith" in something and "having a belief" in something all mixed up.
Faith is an act – it is not an intellectual belief in certain principles, tenets, or dogma. Faith is not a rational assertion that the Bible is holy, pure, and true in all respects. Faith is not an assertion that Jesus died for your sins. These are all beliefs.
You don't have faith. You do faith. Faith is an act.
There is a wonderful illustration of this I read many years ago. Back in the early 1900s, so the story goes, there was a tightrope walker that stretched a cable over one of the smaller falls at Niagara. He attracted quite a crowd and was making a significant amount of money. The event, in terms of ticket sales, was a success.
His fliers had announced that he would cross the falls twice – first, blindfolded with a balance bar and secondly (not blindfolded) pushing a wheelbarrow. He proceeded to do just that.
The crowd was ecstatic! The tightrope walker was on a natural high – both from the size and reaction of the crowd and from the knowledge he had more than met his financial goal.
He decided to give the crowd an unexpected bonus and do a third crossing.
"How many of you believe I can cross the falls a third time?" he shouted above the roar of the crowd.
The crowd roared back: "We all do!"
He shouted again. "How many of you believe I can push the wheelbarrow across again?"
"We have faith in you! You can do it! We know you can do it!" chanted the crowd in unison.
"Do you really have faith in me?"
"Yes! We have faith! You can do it!" responded the crowd.
"Well then, let's do it!" he replied and the crowd went simply wild.
Then he shushed them by putting his finger up to his lips saying, "Since you have so much faith, I need a volunteer to get in the wheelbarrow."
No one moved.
Faith is an act.
When you drive your car and stay to the right of the center line, you are doing faith – because you are acting on your belief that oncoming drivers will stay to their right of the center line.
Many of us give generously because of our faith in the words of Jesus to care for the less fortunate. We also believe that "As you give so shall you receive" or "What you sow you will reap." When we decide to support a charity and, before we decide on the dollar amount we will give, we wait until all our monthly bills are paid so we're reasonably assured that we have enough to make it to the end of the month – that is not faith. Even though we’re acting as a timid reluctant giver, we get angry and frustrated because the universe is reluctantly responding to our perceived needs.
When I left fulltime employment and became a private consultant, I suddenly had a monthly income that varied considerably. It was very, very difficult for me to make a determination about my level of financial support for favorite charities – knowing that I had no real idea what my monthly income was going to be down the road. That was a real test for my faith. Trust me, I haven’t always scored an A+ on that issue.
Faith is an act on a belief, not simply believing the belief. Faith is not an intellectual decision. Faith is not verbalizing an intellectual agreement to some proposition. It is a knowing that allows an act on a belief. I write checks to charities now [an act] based on my confidence [a belief] that if anticipated revenues don’t happen and times get tough, I’ll adjust and pull through. It’s happened too many times in my life for me to ignore.
As the cute little adage goes: “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
Last week we discussed the “Certainty of Faith” and its relationship to fear. I know many folks who’ve said they rest their hope to avoid an eternity in Hell on their belief in the Bible. They have faith in the Bible. They believe that the Bible – any part of the Bible – is the be-all end-all determiner of correct Christian thought and behavior. In Appendix D of my book I reproduced a letter to a newspaper written by a resident who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. I received his permission to include it in my book. In part he said: “The Bible, God’s Holy Word, is alone the foundation of our faith and must be the incontrovertible truth that guides a Christian’s life and the church.”
He equated belief in the Bible with faith.
I don’t want to do that. When I was still a practicing alcoholic I had to have alcohol in my system 24 hours a day in order to feel normal. I never – I MEAN NEVER – entertained the thought that that was abnormal. I have first-hand knowledge of how my intellectual capacity can be very, very flawed. Perhaps you do, too. So, I feel very insecure when I think that even a tiny, tiny portion of my “eternal salvation” rests on my ability to make rational decisions based on my perceptions, my limited thinking processes, and to trust my intellectual judgment. Just think about it. German Nazism, the KKK, and all sorts of other rather insidious groups used the Bible as the “…foundation of their faith.” All of them found enough out-of-context biblical passages to support their cause. People see in the Bible what they want to see. My mind has played rather nasty tricks on me. Their minds played tricks on them. I don’t want to do that.
For me the Bible is a guide. For me I place my hope in the still, small whispers as the Holy Spirit speaks to me. The Holy Spirit doesn’t threaten me with eternal damnation. He doesn’t pummel me about the head and shoulders over my sinfulness. He knows me as I am – an already loved eternal spirit currently living as a human being and who has made many mistakes. He works with me to correct my errors of perception and – trust me – He is very, very patient.
Thanks for listening and, as always, I hope you have someone in your life you can forward this to.
#5 January 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Certainty of Faith – Mine or God’s?

To use biblical scripture as a literal instruction manual for life, so we think we are "properly" understanding what God wants us to do, is to search for the "certainty of faith."
Constantly, I need to remind my Self (my True Self, that is) that my desire for certainty is the handmaiden of Fear. Fear and its desire for certainty is totally of my ego and is the opposite of Faith, love and acceptance.
True certainty comes from the realities of one's continuing transformation – the occurrence of what A Course in Miracles calls "A Holy Instant." These occurrences, for me, have always involved those special times when in spite of all the loud monkey-mind chatter in my head, I am suddenly tuned into the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit. I can’t explain it any better than that. I cannot predict its occurrence. I cannot conjure it up at will. I can’t make it happen when I want. Sometimes, I can meditate to still my mind and nothing happens. Sometimes I get very serene during a meditation, but no “…still, small voice” from Spirit speaks to me. Then, while reading a novel or article – BOOM! – a thought pops into my focus from out of nowhere. It is a magical, cherished moment when that occurs.
I asked a dear spiritual mentor I knew and respected a great deal. She was like a mother to me. She’s passed on now. “Margaret, how can you tell if this small whisper is Spirit or just your own ego?” She told me (and I can still hear her strong Irish brogue), “Donnie, you just learn to recognize Spirit’s voice after a while.” She was right. I do.
An egocentric certainty comes, for me, from the construction of an airtight set of intellectual, rational beliefs about something – a set of ideas, a situation, an interpretation or perception of events. These cerebral constructs usually take the form of doctrine, dogma, cultural mores, selected remembrances from my upbringing, and other similar personal guiding principles.
In times of overwhelming fear, I have noticed how people seem to gravitate to slogans or catch-phrases that provide very simple solutions to very complex problems. Simple solutions, such as: "America – love it or leave it;" "I don't trust the liberal media;" "God helps those who help themselves;" “Jesus called – He wants His religion back;” "Get big government off our backs;" "I have a PBS mind in a Fox News world;" "The 10 Commandments are not multiple choice." What's good for business is good for the USA;" "The Bible said it. I believe it. That’s all there is to it." and others.
During these times of fear mongering, slogans and catch-phrases appear to be wonderfully comforting. That’s why, in my opinion, politicians have become so adept at speaking in sound bites – 20-second blurbs that “seem” to convey truth and wisdom. They both sate our fears and reinforce their realities at the same time. It is very insidious and very powerful.
These slogans, many of which are very creative, both feed into and are bolstered by an us-versus-them mentality, which is the classic mentality of fearfulness. This mentality always will lead to some form of "my problem is 'out there,' and if only those folks would shape up, my problems would go away."
Our country's been through this so many times. Initially, it was the “savage” Indians. Then the Catholics or Papists were the fall guys. Then it was the Jews. Then the Irish, the Italians, the Blacks, the Hispanics, the Communists. Now, it's immigrants or Muslims.
If a politician, business interest, Cause, or Movement can keep me focused on some specific “out there” as either the source of my problem or the source of my solution, then that Cause or politician will have my vote for a long time. The politician knows this, as does the business interest, the Cause or the Movement. Hence, the 20-second sound bite.
Just ask any Republican almost any question and the answer is “shrink government and reduce taxes.” Ask any Democrat almost any question and the answer is “we are the government and we must always watch out for the little guy.”
In the novel, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1989, Page 317) there is a succinct description of how we try to find simple solutions to complex issues. “…if you want a more down-to-earth explanation, it’s like the story of the man with a bad stammer who complains that the radio station wouldn’t hire him as an announcer because he didn’t carry a party card. We always have to blame our failures on somebody else, and dictatorships always need an external enemy to bind their followers together. As the man said, for every complex problem, there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong.”
When I catch myself feeling a real need for certainty, I try to ask myself questions, such as:
(1)  Isn't the problem really much more complicated than this solution?
(2)  Do I believe this slogan because it makes me feel I am right? Or more correct? Or smarter? Or more secure? Or more spiritual? Or more sophisticated?
(3)  Do I feel better reciting this slogan because it enables me to pinpoint my fear, which, in turn, helps me believe there are some rational solutions that will make the issue (and my fear) go away?
If I focus on question one, then I begin to understand that my fear (or my desire for certainty of faith) is really an inside job. The issue is “me” not someone or something “out there.” If I focus on questions two or three, then I have erred again – projecting my fear on someone or something outside of me and looking for someone or something out there that will make it all better.
I know better than to do that. But sometimes "knowing better" just isn't enough, is it? I guess that’s why the goal is for me to be on a spiritual journey instead of arriving at a spiritual destination.
Thanks for listening and, as always, I hope you forward this. In fact I would be honored if you did.
#4 January, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Big Ball of Wax – The Bible, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus

Last week’s message [How Many Commandments Are There – Really?] discussed the relationship between the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Three Commandments. I asked the question, ”What is the role of the Ten Commandments for Christians, and where do Jesus' Three Commandments fit in?” [A refresher: Jesus’ Three Commandments are 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, and mind; 2. Love your neighbor as yourself; 3. Love each other as I have loved and served you]
I think Christian congregations venerate the Ten Commandments (a) because they are simple and easy to depict, and (b) because it verifies, for them, the central importance of the Bible. This allows someone to use any verse(s) in the Bible in conjunction with any other verse(s) indiscriminately. Convenient? Yes! Misleading or Inappropriate? Absolutely!
It appears to me that many biblical literalists have identified the Bible, the reality of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as all the same thing. I’ve heard biblical literalists claim that Jesus really wrote the entire Bible. They say this because they believe the Holy Spirit and Jesus (and the scriptures they presumably wrote) are all of equal weight, equal validity, equal importance. They are the same thing.
This certainly provides some comfort for their fears. Find some verse in the Bible that makes sense to you, regardless of its appropriate context and meaning, and voila! One has God’s Truth to bolster them. Neat, quick, easy, and very, very dangerous.
Of course, providing comfort for fear applies to more than the Bible. I’ve seen people use the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in much the same way. Many of us in the fellowship of AA refer to these members as “Big Book Nazis.” There are those that do the same with the text of A Course in Miracles – there is only one “right” way to interpret whatever section everyone’s reading. There are those that do the same thing with the faith-based secular religion of American capitalism which has been so virtually married with fundamentalist Christianity that you would think that Jesus’ swaddling clothes were red, white and blue. After all, doesn’t the Bible say “God helps those who help themselves?” No, it doesn’t. That quote is from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard Almanac – presumably copied from earlier European pamphlets.
Obviously, this whole discussion of using the Ten Commandments and worshipping the Bible has to do with fear, which AA describes as Future Events Appearing Real, and how to alleviate it.
Fear is an awful emotion. It is the opposite of faith, acceptance, and love. It is the absolute primal emotion of the self-absorbed Ego. It is pervasive, insidious and produces death in all its forms – physical death, financial death, or social embarrassment, just to name a few obvious forms. The more insidious forms, however, are the ones that concern me.
“Like what?” you may be thinking. Well, here’s a couple for starters:
Anxiety or fear of being “found out” – about anything! It’s whatever it is I’m currently pretending to be for you or around you that I don’t want you to know about. Whenever I work to maintain a pretense that I’m richer, smarter, calmer, more serene, less controlling or possessing more self-control, more spiritual, or funnier, I have this sinking feeling in my gut – “The me you think you are talking to or listening to isn’t the real me.”
A flip side to this same anxiety is my attempt to avoid making a mistake or my attempt to minimize the consequences of a mistake. This kind of anxiety is equally insidious for me. It implies there is some form of a perfect answer, a perfect conclusion, a perfect response, a perfect plan, or a perfect analysis. All I need to do is find it. To make a mistake is a failure. It is being “found out” as a flawed fraud. I can never be “good” enough, correct enough, right enough, smart enough, sensitive enough, observant enough.
It is a very sick place for me to be.
When I’m in that sick place, it is the most “natural” thing in the world for me to trust the reality of my perceptions. My perceptions – in this sick state – are tailored to my “story:” I’m a well-educated, sensitive, politically progressive, sober, creative, overall nice guy with a sense of humor and moving on a strong spiritual path. You know, I still like the way that sounds. And it’s all true – in the universe that exists between my ears – but it has nothing to do with reality.
In November 2011 [Penn State, The Church, and my Ego – Part 2] I wrote:
“… what I learned is the critical importance of always trying to use 2 little words: "…for me." I came to understand that my thoughts of ‘right, normal, accepted, and Christian’ were influenced more by my cultural/racial/educational/economic sense of identity than by dogma or some form of religiosity. I found if I could simply add the prepositional phrase "for me" to the end of most sentences, truth would begin to penetrate all the way to my True Self.  For example, rather than saying, ‘The Bible is the source of truth in spiritual issues,’ I began saying the ‘Bible is my source of truth in spiritual issues because that makes sense for me.’"
Now, when I’m in my sick little place, I try to pause, take a deep breath, and recognize that someone using the Bible in a literal, worshipful, idolatrous way to alleviate his/her fear is no different than I am. We simply use different literal, worshipful, idolatrous tools.
·      Conservatives may be using the Bible, simplistic fundamentalist dogma, Fox News commentators, Republican Party talking points, an over-blown ideal of American capitalism, or die-hard patriotism as their tools to alleviate fear, doubt, anxiety.
·      Liberals may be using Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Unity, A Course in Miracles, a 12-Step Program, Democratic Party talking points, MSNBC commentators, Bill Moyers, or Paul Krugman as their tools.
All of us, however, are forgetting that the realities of this world are real only if we perceive ourselves as a human body having a soul/spirit rather than perceiving ourselves as an already loved eternal spirit currently having a human experience.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states that what we do is based on how we perceive the events and people around us. In short, what we do showcases what we really believe. The actual quote is “You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave.” (Text: Chapter 1, III.6)
So, if you look at what you actually do, think and say, what might someone conclude about your actual beliefs? I’ll let you answer that for yourselves.
Thanks for listening and, as always, it's okay to forward this, if you choose.
#3 January, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How Many Commandments Are There - Really?

A bumper sticker I’ve seen stated: “Jesus Called. He Wants His Religion Back.” Cute. Short. Punchy. And I believe it to be pretty true.
Jesus’ church or religion, if He had actually established one, would espouse His Gospel. 
Well. what was Jesus Gospel, or Good News? When we read what Jesus said, according to the Gospels, we look at the Sermon on the Mount (including the Beatitudes and the redefining of some of the Ten Commandements), His parables, and His healings. That’s where He defined His message – in teachings, deeds, and healings. His message? The Kingdom of God (or Heaven) is at hand. Repent. See for yourself – the lame walk, the hungry are fed, the blind see, the deaf hear. This Kingdom is all around you and in you and you will know it if you will but open your eyes and see.
Here is the way I paraphrased that message in my book:
The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Quit looking at the world ‘out there’ as the source of your problems or the source of your solutions.  Look inside you. The Kinddom is already there and has always been there. The Kingdom is now, and now is always eternal. Just as leaven is invisible, yet changes the nature of dough, the Kingdom of God in your heart will change your perception of reality. This will change your world. What was important now isn’t, and what wasn’t important now is. The first will become last and the last first. The exalted will be humbled and the humbled exalted. Your world will turn upside down. You need to recognize it, acknowledege it, and grow with it. I, myself, am involved with this Kingdom. (How the Bible became the Bible, p. 118; For those interested, Appendix B of the book  contains a list (compiled by Dr. John Dominic Crossan in his book, The Historical Jesus) of sayings and parables that come as close as we can determine to be actual words Jesus said).
After stating that He was the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets, He issued Three Commandments:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; Love your neighbor as yourself (followed by the parable of the good Samaritan, where He defined ‘your neighbor’ as anyone in need). Toward the end of His ministry He issued a Third Commandment to His disciples: Love each other as I have loved and served you.
But I don’t see Jesus’ Three Commandments hanging on church walls. Instead, I see the Ten Commandments. I see them in front of churches. I see them as posters in churches where I go to AA meetings, Course in Miracles meetings, or funerals of friends. I read occasionally of communities or States that want to put the Ten Commandments on the Courthouse (or Statehouse) lawns.
This makes me wonder what is the role of the Ten Commandments for Christians, and where do Jesus' Commandments fit in?
Each of the major Old Testament Hebrew groups traced their lineage and identity to a distinct tribal god that belonged to one of the three Great Hebrew Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. Even though there were differences, there remained a great deal of similarity among these loosly connected tribes. During the Exodus from Egypt and the revelation of the Ten Commandments, Moses was able to coalesce the Twelve Tribes of Hebrews into a single people – the Israelites. The Ten Commandments became the foundation for all of Jewish Law and tradition – both written and oral.
During Jesus' ministry He commented, as a good Jew, on these Commandments and, at times, altered them. For example, the Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath; You have heard it said it is a violation of the Commandments to commit adultery, but I say to you that anyone who has lusted in their heart for a woman has committed adultery. Rather than discussing rite, ritual, custom, and doctrine Jesus simply talked about looking for the fruits of the Spirit and used a tree as an analogy. Where we find good fruits, we find a healthy tree. Barren or skimpy fruits indicate an unhealthy tree.
He then went on to give us the Two Great Commandments followed, toward the end of His ministry, by the Third Commandment.
So, as followers of Jesus the Christ, are Christians defined as groups/congregations trying to obey Jesus' Three Commandments or are Christians now required to follow Thirteen Commandments? Why don't I see Christian churches or Christian communities put the Three Commandments of Jesus on the walls of their churches or in their memorial gardens? 
For Christains to keep venerating the Ten Commandments is to keep vibrant the roots of Jewish law in Christian belief, doctrine, or dogma. These laws – focused around the concepts of purification and sacrifice – were the very 1500-year-old Jewish concepts that Jesus was redefining during His ministry. By venerating the Ten Commandments are we, in effect, denigrating Jesus’ message?
The Ten Commandments are very short and specific – sort of like sound bites. Jesus' Three Commandments are pretty open-ended. They are definitely not a one-size-fits-all set of "rules." It takes constant thought and evaluation to implement the Three Commandments on a daily bassis. They are certainly not cut-and-dried formulas. They are pretty "fuzzy," as I referred to them in my book.  We don’t like fuzzy suggestions that are to help us determine our daily behavior – especially when we believe the stakes are whether or not we end up in Heaven or Hell. We like discrete, definable rules that reassure us we’re on our way to Heaven.
As a guide to daily living are Christians to obey the Ten Commandments, the Three Commandments, or all Thirteen?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Finding Your Spiritual Identity in 2012

I read the following recently in a novel:  
“[Dil, an Eastern Indian]’…Glastonbury is the Nutter capital of Briton. It’s where the New Age Celts get together.’
‘I thought Wales and Scotland were the Celtic bits?’ said Jeanene, puzzled.
‘Oh, yes. [said Dil] This is something different. According to my mate Digger, Celticness is a state of mind. I bet no one’d say that in Glasgow. I mean, he said I could be Celtic if I liked, and I’m not even white.’
‘What Dil means is that the New Agers are making it up as they go along,’ supplied Hattie, ‘so don’t expect it to make too much sense. What’s going on here is basically a lot of Anglo-Saxon English people trying to get themselves some kind of spiritual identity, only they don’t want any of the nasty stuff which goes with it. Half the time I think they’re trying to reinvent folk Catholicism without the Church, and anyway, they don’t seem to realise there’s downsides to being a Celt. Like being screwed by the English, for starters.’”
London Bridges by Jane Stevenson, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001, p. 268.
My wife and I heard much the very same thing during our tour of Greece this past Spring (2011). Our guide was a wonderful Greek woman married to an American jazz muscian and piano repairer. She spends about half of each year with him in New Orleans. She took an inordinate amount of time explaining the history, culture and mythology of the Greek gods as we toured the southern part of Greece and several islands.
She made several very crucial points. First,  the culture and nature of Greece – and Greeks! – is very entwined with the history, language, and events embedded in the mythology of the Greek gods. This cultural identity and sense of belongingness goes back at least 2,500 years. Second, there is currently an extreme resurgence or rebirth by today’s Greek youth in the history/mythology of the Greek Pantheon. She believes it is an attempt by this generation to rediscover an overall sense of identity, since (acording to her) all Greece’s major political, economic, cultural, and religious sysems have virtually collapsed or are percieved as totally broken.
Now that 2012 is upon us, I can really identify with the collapse of political, economic, cultural, and religious systems. As a former Presbyterian minister, I can no longer truly identify with the organized mainstream Christan faith and dogma. Churches have so engulfed themselves in our fearful, short-sighted political and economic systems that I’ve heard from church-goers that it is being declared from pulpits that one cannot be a true, believing Christian and belong to the Democratic Party. Other ministers have quoted more and more often from the Old Testament to justify indiscriminate civilian bombing of Islamic countries. However, generally mainstream Protestant congregations or denominations, who are repulsed by statements like this, remain essentially silent. I believe both positions are motivated by fear – acknowledging this is my perception, my reality, my Now.
These (mostly) biblically literal congregations are motivated by the fear of Islam in all its dreamt-up horror. It’s as if they are trying to appease an angry, vindictive God – the God of their perception. The latter, more mainstream, churches are afraid their condemnation of such extreme positions might anger some of their more conservative congregants. Both positions are about as far from Jesus’ Gospel of Transformation as I can imagine – again, my perception, my reality, my Now.
Searching for a spiritual identity – looking for that “something deep inside” that helps me define myself and feel a sense of belongingness within this universe – has been the overarching “fuel” that has powered my spiritual journey. It’s what’s gotten me truly excited. It’s what’s kept me awake at night. It’s what’s driving me as I write these weekly messages. And, when I have this indescribable inward knowing that I’m on my right path, I enjoy a serenity and acceptance that is beyond both words and worth.
Like many of you, perhaps, I have been all over the spiritual map for the last 20+ years – from off-the-wall to over-the-hill. I have travelled from the spirituality I experienced in working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to an attempt to reconnect with traditional Christian dogma to Science of Mind to Eastern philosophy to A Course in Miracles. Along the way I have dabbled with Saint Germain and Telos, Edgar Cayce, Sai Baba, Maitreya and the Spiritual Hierarchy, India’s Oneness Movement, and the British spiritualist organization called White Eagle.
I have met saints, gurus, and charletons. Still, sometimes I meet all three as they look back at me from a mirror. Nevertheless, I stay on my journey. I stay growing. I try to stay still, allowing my light to shine while leaving the results to Spirit.
With all the divisiveness, hate, fear, timidity, and uncertainty enveloping churches, religion, and religiosity it is no wonder that younger generations are on a spiritual path searching for a sense of spiritual identity. My journey on my spiritual path – that is what is making me me. Perhaps it’s making you you.
Some of you will face 2012 searching for your spirituality, knowing that ogranized religion, as it currently exists, will not take you there. You, too, will join the Journey. You will find yourselves on your path – with all its peaks and valleys, highs and lows, cool mountain streams and dry, parched deserts.
Welcome to the road less traveled!
I want to close out the old year and open 2012 with the conclusion from the Introduction to A Course in Miracles (ACIM).
“This course can therefore by summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Noting unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
ACIM, Text, Introduction, 2:1-4
Thanks for listening and, as always, it's okay to forward or share this, if you choose.
#1 – January 2012