I read an article by Rex Stoessiger and I must admit it caused me to think deeply about the quality of my parenting to my children and to my sons in particular. As a parent, I have been concerned about the increasing media representation of men as dopes and as violent, self-obsessed brutes.
What have I been doing to model appropriate patterns for my own sons? Likely not enough. Here is an excerpt from Stoessiger’s article:
An important issue for most men and a crucial one for boys’ education is the lack of fathering in current society. This is something that Steve Biddulph talks about in Manhood where he draws on the work of Robert Bly to illustrate the importance of father-son relationships in male development.
He points to the effects of the industrial revolution which meant that fathers and sons, who used to work together in the fields, were now together for only small amounts of time, usually after a hard working day when both were tired. This means that boys see only very limited aspects of masculinity, not the full range of male behaviour.
Today the separation is possibly even more rigid. Men are off in factories or offices and boys are at school for longer and longer periods. In primary schools about 80 percent of the staff are women. Many boys, and girls, go through eight years of primary education without a male teacher. In such a world, how do boys learn to be male?
Construction of Masculinity
With fathers physically and emotionally separated from sons it’s harder to learn what it means to be male. But in our society all boys have to grow up to be men. There isn’t a choice. Boys will learn their masculinity one way or another.
In present day society there are three obvious ways for boys to learn masculinity. And all three are dangerous.
First, boys commonly learn about masculinity from the media. Boys typically see much, much more television than they see of their fathers. But the models of masculinity displayed on television are either ultra-competitive sportsmen, violent men or dopes; not much to choose from.
The second source of models of masculinity comes from the peer group. Young men spend much more time with males of similar ages than with adult men. In peer groups it’s the most aggressive and violent male who calls the shots and ends up providing the example of “successful” masculinity.
The third way young men currently learn their masculinity is by reaction. Bad as the other two methods are, this is potentially worse. If you can’t learn about masculinity from men because at home and school you are largely surrounded by women then it becomes straightforward to interpret masculine as “not-female”. The particular dangers of constructing masculinity in this way are the very limited range of behaviours that come to be accepted as male and the anti-female attitudes that are likely to develop.
The Hit Factory in New York City is closing its doors. This Manhattan recording studio is legendary and created scores of gold records and Grammy winners. Stevie Wonder recorded Songs in the Key of Life in 1975. John Lennon, on the evening before his death, was mixing tracks at the studio in 1980. Other artists that tracked at the Hit Factory include Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, U2, Paul Simone and Beyonce. In 1994 alone, over 41 Grammy nominations pointed to music tracked, mixed or mastered at the Hit Factory.
The Hit Factory opened in 1968 on West 48th Street and moved just north in June of 1993. However, home and project studios have clearly impacted the studio’s ability to make money. This continues the shift away from large recording facilities. Here is a picture from one of the main control rooms. I wonder if I could bid for the diffuser shown on the back wall? I wonder where all the equipment will go?
I suppose I could find some room for all that gear in my own studio.
Yesterday IBM, Sony and Toshiba announced the specifics behind their efforts to create the next generation processor platform called the Cell microprocessor. The chip will offer a very high-speed clock, above 4GHz, and it will deliver upwards of ten times the performance of current generation Intel microprocessors.
The chip is intended to compete for the digital home and the first batch of these processors should show up in the new Sony Playstation 3. The prototype chip is comprised of one 64-bit PowerPC processor core and eight separate processing cores that the companies call “synergistic processing elements,” or SPEs. The cores can support multiple operating systems and programming models through the use of virtualization technologies.
This next wave of microprocessor technology will have a massive impact on rich media which bodes well for those of us working in digital audio and video. You can find IBM’s press release on the Cell chip here.
You can never have too much processing power.
The Gospel Music Association demonstrates its business bias throughout its 2004 industry overview.
Gospel music, which includes a wide variety of genres from Southern Gospel to Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), sold almost a billion dollars of product last year. Album sales have grown 10% from 42 million units in 1998 to over 47 million units in 2003 compared to a 10% decline in overall music sales for the same time period.
19 albums went multi-platinum (2 million units or more). 52 albums went platinum (1 million units) and 119 went gold (500,000 units).
This was an interesting list in terms of lifetime album sales:
- Amy Grant: 24 million units
- Kirk Franklin: 13 million units
- Sandi Patty: 11 million units
- CeCe Winans: 11 million units
- Michael W. Smith: 10 million units
- Steven Curtis Chapman: 9 million units
- Point of Grace: 8 million units
- P.O.D.: 7 million units
- Jars of Clay: 6 million units
- dc talk: 6 million units
- Jaci Velasquez: 5 million units
- Newsboys: 4 million units
- Third Day: 4 million units
- Bob Carlisle: 4 million units
You can read the entire report here. Little wonder the secular labels bought out the major Christian record labels. Watch the money. Or consider Steve Camp’s interesting take on the need for reformation of CCM here.
Either way, the industry is moving millions and that can prove tempting to people motivated by money.
My wife and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary yesterday at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto. The hotel was very thoughtful in all of the details from an anniversary card right down to the chocolate-covered strawberries in our room.
We watched Clint Eastwood’s film Million Dollar Baby. What a surprising film. Part Rocky and part Terms of Endearment. We browsed through some of the Yorkville shops and made our way back downtown and enjoyed a nice meal at one of the local restaurants near the hotel.
And, as we enjoyed the time together, I thought about how fortunate I was to find my wife and to have such a wonderful family. I am a very lucky man.
Added flickr to the blog. You can find my flickr thumbnails on the sidebar of this blog by scrolling down. And, as I have been writing pretty lengthy posts of late, you will have to scroll quite a ways down to see the thumbnails. I will post some new photos every week or at least until my monthly disk quota is reached.
In 1977 Carl Reiner directed the movie Oh, God! starring George Burns. Burns won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the role. I remember one scene in the movie where George Burns, cast as the Almighty, comes down hard on the lavish lifestyle of a religious leader: “If he wants to make money, tell him to sell shoes.”
I had read the concerns raised by Wall Watchers on the Joyce Meyer organization a few days back. The main concern was whether the Joyce Meyer organization should operate as a church or a public charity. Operating as a public charity affords more financial transparency to ensure appropriate governance and Wall Watchers believes that the Joyce Meyer organization is not operating a congregational church. They also challenge her excessive lifestyle and questionable ministry expenses.
I then came across the current mess with Clint Brown of Faithworld. Yet another story of lavish lifestyles and questionable expenses paid for by donations.
Clint Brown is a preacher and motivational speaker, and he is a successful songwriter. He has written and published over 250 praise and worship songs. He has released 14 albums and he has hit the top 10 list in Praise and Worship distribution charts.
He is the CEO of Tribe Music Group which owns and operates a recording studio as well as a publishing and distribution company.
He is also a pastor of a large church in Orlando, Florida. In less than 10 years Faithworld has grown to over 6,000 members.
This was the article that I came across at ReligionNewsBlog:
FaithWorld has bought a $500,000 parsonage for its embattled pastor, Clint Brown, in what the church’s attorney says was a vote of confidence in the congregation’s leader.
The church bought the house in the gated Park Springs development in southwest Orlando last month. Brown, a nationally known recording artist, has been the focus of media reports in the past two weeks related to a messy divorce case that revealed a lavish lifestyle.
Brown also is named in a suit alleging that $200,000 lent to the church was not returned. Both sides in that dispute agreed that the money was intended to purchase or build a new home for the church. But FaithWorld attorney Mark Matthew O’Mara said Monday that the money instead went into the church’s general fund.
O’Mara said the church’s Dec. 16 purchase of the four-bedroom, three-bath house for Brown on Park Springs Circle “was obviously a vote of confidence. More significantly, it was the appropriate fiscal decision for the church to own a piece of property rather than pay rent on one.”
He said the congregation also made “substantial improvements” on the property.
The church also is paying $7,000 monthly mortgage payments on a $1.4 million home in Alaqua Lakes, a gated Longwood community where Brown lived with his wife, Angela, until February 2003, when they separated.
O’Mara said the church is studying whether it is proper to make payments on two residences for their pastor. Also under examination are credit-card charges by Clint and Angela Brown that were paid by the church.
Neither the Browns nor their attorneys could be reached for comment Monday.
Angela Brown’s divorce filing provides a listing of the couple’s assets, including three Mercedes-Benzes, a Porsche Carrera, a Hummer, a Ford F-150 pickup, a Volkswagen Beetle and two Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Several of the couple’s vehicles were paid for by the congregation.
The court documents also shed light on the couple’s spending.
On a visit to Diamond Quasar Jewels of New York in August 2002, Clint Brown spent $8,800. Other purchases were recorded at tony shops and spas in Bal Harbour; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Las Vegas; and Beverly Hills, Calif. Angela Brown spent more than $1,000 at Victoria’s Secret and nearly $10,000 for shoes at a Dallas store.
Using his wife’s Platinum American Express card, Clint Brown spent $85 at a San Diego Hooters on Jan. 24, 2003, according to court documents. Tattoos and tanning-salon sessions also were charged, along with nearly $1,000 in wine from a Heathrow shop.
In the divorce suit, Angela Brown also said that in one year, her husband charged more than $70,000 in women’s clothes on an American Express card and that neither she nor her daughter received any of the clothing.
O’Mara said that if an examination of the pastor’s credit cards found that some of the charges were for personal expenses, they would be taxable as personal income.
In addition to the divorce controversy, Clint Brown has been sued by Deborah Mitchell, a former church member who said he failed to return a $200,000 loan she made to the church in 1999.
The church maintains the money was a gift to the congregation. Mitchell’s attorney, Howard Marks, acknowledged that there was no written agreement defining the transaction. There were no witnesses to the discussion between Clint Brown and Mitchell, according to the suit.
O’Mara acknowledged that the money originally was intended to buy or build a new home for the church, which was then in Apopka.
“They were looking at a piece of property and building to expand the church,” O’Mara said, until televangelist Benny Hinn decided to move from the Forest City property to Dallas. FaithWorld acquired the property by assuming the $5.8 million debt.
When that happened, O’Mara said, the $200,000 went into the church’s general fund “at a time when they were expanding and incurring a lot of expenses” after the move from Apopka to Forest City Road west of Maitland.
Despite the recent revelations, support for Clint Brown has remained strong among the estimated 6,000 members who fill FaithWorld’s seats.
Janet Thompson, a member of the congregation, said Monday that she supports last month’s purchase of the parsonage for her pastor.
“Great. I’m happy about that. He deserves it,” Thompson said. “I would go to the ends of the Earth for a man of God who deserves it.”
Perhaps Clint should focus on selling shoes.
The Information Work Productivity Council is an independent group of companies and academics that have joined together to study the issue of information work productivity. The goal of the Council is to build a model that measures productivity in today’s information-centric business environment.
So how does the average information worker spend their time?
- 3 hours and 14 minutes a day using technologies to process work-related information – just over 40% of an 8-hour work day
- 2 hours/day to e-mail (20% of an 8 hour day)
- 47 minutes on telephone and voice mail
- Receives 44 e-mails daily (a few people received as many as 500 a day)
- Sends 17 e-mails daily and has more than 3 e-mail accounts
- Receives 18 calls, places 15 calls, and gets 7.6 voice mail messages
- Participates in 2.75 conference calls a week
Like so many people, I found that I was getting buried by the sheer volume and magnitude of incoming and outgoing information as well as trying to keep track of hundreds of discrete tasks. I was between systems, having abandoned the Daytimer model of calendar appointments and A,B,C priority lists, to ad hoc email and Blackberry activities.
Getting Things Done has transformed my approach to work and I am getting ready to tackle the home front. Over the past several years, I have not been able to establish a system to effectively manage the incoming flows at home and, as a consequence, we fill Banker’s Boxes with papers accumulated during a calendar year. Unfiled and irretrievable. Digital sources, such as documents, audio and images, are stored adhoc. I am very strict on backups so I have confidence that the data, while disorganized, is located in at least two places.
I started phase one at home by organizing my personal email system. And, shortly, I will be putting attention to the other areas of the domestic environment.
Being more productive is not an attempt on my part to get more things done in my life rather it is an attempt to reclaim time to focus on the important things: faith, family, friends. The story of the Jar is one that I keep in the back of my mind.
One day an old professor was invited to lecture on the topic of Efficient Time Management in front of a group of 15 executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America. The lecture was one in a series of five lectures conducted in one day, and the old professor was given one hour to lecture.
Standing in front of this group of elite managers the professor slowly met eyes with each person, one by one, and finally said, “We are going to conduct an experiment.”
From under the table that stood between the professor and the listeners, the professor pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it in front of him. Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar. Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?” The managers replied, “Yes.”
The professor paused for a moment, and replied, “Really?”
Then once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom.
Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, “Is the jar full?”
At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions. One replied, “Apparently not!”
“Correct” replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table. Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles.
Yet again, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?”
Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, “No!”
“Correct” replied the professor. And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full.
The professor now lifted his gaze once again and asked, “What great truth can we surmise from this experiment?”
With his thoughts on the lecture topic, one manager quickly replied, “We learn that as full as our schedules may appear, if we only increase our effort, it is always possible to add more meetings and tasks.”
“No”, replied the professor.
“The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is this: if we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.”
The auditorium fell silent, as each person processed the significance of the professor’s words.
The old professor continued, “What are the large stones in your life? Health? Family? Friends? Your goals? Doing what you love? Fighting for a cause? Taking time for yourself?”
“What we must remember is that it is most important to include the larger stones in our lives, because if we don’t do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether. If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles, sand) our lives will fill up with less important things, leaving little to no time for the things in our lives most important to us. Because of this, never forget to ask yourself, what are the large stones in your life? And once you identify them, be sure to put them first in your ‘jar’ of life.”
Is your jar full of sand or is it full of large stones?