As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff.

The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled how you are about to be fooled. They might say “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…” and give you a sense of where the magic is going to happen. They hint at it. The general rule is that you don’t want your magic to be anything completely unexpected.

Surprises undo us. Most of us dislike being completely fooled. We don’t mind if a spoon bends, and we don’t mind if the signed card is now in a wallet — as long as we were somewhat expecting that to happen. We are comfortable with our expectations being messed with as long as we are expecting our expectations to be messed with. We do not like when things happen far outside our expectations.

The recent election of Donald Trump was outside of the expectations of a majority of Americans and many people throughout the world.

We don’t like to be fooled.

We don’t like the world to be other than how we want or expect it.

We dislike it a lot. We really don’t like the world not to conform to what we expect.

We ask the doctor, “Will this hurt?” We ask people who have been down the road before us, “What’s it like?” We seek all types of counsel to help us control, predict, and prepare for the future.

That’s what this newsletter is about. With regard to the spiritual-religious aspects of life, I help you make some better sense of this world. And, I push you, gently and with love, towards making it a better place.

You might remember an article I wrote about observation bias and how it might be keeping God out of your life – no matter what your understanding of the word gee-oh-dee is. Observation bias underscores this notion that we tend to see the world as we think we will see the world.  For example, if you are a teacher and you think a student in your classroom is “trouble,” you will see countless examples of that child misbehaving. If you think a friend is rude and  interrupts the flow of conversation, you will see that happen.

 

You should literally be astounded to realize that what you expect to see is almost synonymous with what you see.

 

What is it in your own world that you want to see?

Do you expect, like Eeyore, to see the world as bleak? Or do you expect, like Pollyanna, to see that the world is wonderful?

I awoke the other day with a quote by Martha Beck in my mind: “The repercussions of one person living in stubborn gladness are incalculable.” I was struck by the word “stubborn” and decided to spend the day in stubborn gladness – and it was a good thing I did, because the day started with news that caused us to scramble our plans so one of us could make it to a spontaneous protest.

If you want to see more love in the world, start looking for more love in the world, and you’ll see more love in the world.  If you expect to encounter wondrous things, there’s a much greater chance you are going to see wondrous things. If you are expecting to see a beautiful world, a beautiful world can be seen.  

Perhaps the universe doesn’t want to fool you too hard by making the universe anything other than what you expect. That’s how good magic tricks work anyway.

 

Got to laugh to keep from crying

Got to laugh to keep from crying

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying   After learning of some upsetting political news, I called a mentor of mine. He shut me down from obsessing about it by recounting something his father used to say. “You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.”...

Love the broken

Love the broken

Love What's Broken In the course of our getting acquainted, Ron, a new minister friend, made reference to Luther’s theology of the cross. He spoke about it as though it was something I knew. I interrupted him and admitted that I didn’t understand. “Can you explain it...

Not Teaching A Lesson

Not Teaching A Lesson

To Not Teach a Lesson At the start of January, it was really, really slushy here in Portland, Oregon. We had 8 inches of snow and then some freezing rain. Then it got a little warmer. We got slush. Lots of slush. What follows is what I diaried that day (refined by my...

How to be loving

How to be loving

How to be more loving I had a lengthy text exchange with a friend. A little editing was done to change the format to match that of a typical “advice column.”   Dear rB, You talk about loving and not being filled with hate. I remember this past summer you turned...

God called me to be me: a rabbi

God called me to be me: a rabbi

God called me to be me: a rabbi This article is a little different from the usual. There is no explicit moral at the end. I hope that this article – a theological coming out – inspires you nonetheless. 23 years ago, I was in my first year of rabbinical school. Like...

Spiritual Diet

Spiritual Diet

We are told often about the importance of diet and exercise in our lives. I'd like to think about diet and exercise in a spiritual-religious context. With physical diet and exercise, we know that even if you aren't on a specific diet, you still eat. We know that even...

Anger Not Hate

Anger Not Hate

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER. I have written about the proper ways to be angry. I have written about not taking in other people's anger. I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger. I have written about the natural and...

Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?

Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?

  One of my favorite "koans" about learning: There are three frogs sitting on a lily pad. One decides to jump in the water. How many are on the lily pad? The answer is three, not two. The one decided to jump in the water – we don't know that it did. The moral:...

Towards Abundance

Towards Abundance

Living with gratitude. Living with abundance This is a LONG article. Please consider taking time to print this or carve out five minutes to read and reflect. It is an important article. It talks about living a religiously, spiritually fulfilled life. I am a big...

FE(joy)AR

FE(joy)AR

You might be scared. In many ways, it is a scary time. The future is uncertain. It feels very uncertain right now. I don’t need to convince you of how scared the world seems. You know that. What I want to talk to you about is our need to find joy amidst the fear. You...