Sunday, June 29, 2008

NT Wright and The Cookie Monster on The Colbert Report

Repent! (a story for all ye vile and filthy sinners)

A story to illustrate yesterday's post on repentance:

Say for instance you wanted someone to live a missional life--that is, a life given over to the mission of God to redeem everyone and everything (which in other words, simply means to follow Jesus); to turn from their inward curve and focus outside themselves on the things and people God loves.

To do that, you are inviting them to live in a new paradigm. Inviting them to repent of their old paradigm. So how do you do that? Yell at them? Tell them you are right and they are wrong? Guilt them into change? Quote bible verses at them? Engage in subtle verbal manipulation to get them to agree with you? I don't know of a better means than story. In a story, I can see myself and also see other ways to be myself.

Here's one story that did just that for me. Maybe it will for you too. It comes from this blog about St Aidan, the Bishop of Northumbria, a Celtic Missionary in the 600's on the northeastern coast of England and is an entry in the Missional Synchronous blog hosted by Rick Meigs.

BlockquoteOne of the best known stories of Aidan’s focus came when King Oswald’s successor, Oswin, gave Aidan a fine mare from the royal stables as a gift. The mare was intended to ease Aidan’s travels and make him more efficient in his evangelization of Northumbria. Aidan received the horse, and promptly gave it to the first poor family that he met on the road. Oswin heard this story and enraged, confronted Aidan.

The historian Bede tells us of the encounter:
The King asked the bishop as they were going in to dine, ‘My Lord Bishop, why did you give away the royal horse which was necessary for your own use? Have we not many less valuable horses or other belongings which would have been good enough for beggars, without giving away a horse that I had specifically selected for your personal use?’ The bishop at once answered, ‘What are you saying, Your Majesty? Is this child of a mare more valuable to you than this child of God?’”

King Oswin in humility agreed with Aidan and said that he would never again challenge how Aidan spent his resources in service to the poor.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Repent (ye vile and filthy sinners!)

It's a warm fuzzy word, isn't it? It just makes you want to pour a hot cup of coffee and pull up to a roaring fire.....or not. It's now freighted meaning usually conjurs up such crowd-pleasing images as judgement, condemnation, eternal hellfire and an occasional dash of brimstone just for effect.

And if it is one of Jesus' basic messages: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." then, uh-oh for Jesus, right?

Well, we need to rescue the word in word, practice and deed because it's absolutely crucial to human flourishing. The word in the original Greek is metanoia, which literally means "with mind" or "with new mind."

In today's language we might say it this way, "he had a paradigm shift." When we say that, we mean he was inside a way of seeing things that caused him to act, feel and live a certain way. Then a window opened and he shifted his position to an entirely new way of seeing things. Everything became clear and subsequently made sense in a whole new way. It was like he was seeing things again for the first time, with an entirely new set of eyes.

So if two people are comitting adultery (I've walked several people through this as a pastor), they are inside a system that has them seeing, feeling and acting as though this foreign object to their marriage will somehow make them happy/give them the thing they think they've always wanted/make them feel a certain way about themselves. If they do not repent, that is, have a paradigm shift, everything they know will be destroyed and the resulting relational shrapnel will literally scatter for years. They will not flourish.

This is just one example, use your imagination and extrapolate it out to any situation. It always holds true. Repentance, properly understood and done, is a fundamental key to human flourishing.

That's why preaching, when it's done well, always invites people to repent--to shift their paradigm. Mark Beeson, leader of a great church, took some notes on preaching for repentance here.

Too often that call for repentance is done in shrill religious-ese. We fail to show people the new paradigm (Jesus' new paradigm was always the Kingdom of God) and so they never give up on their old paradigm. They hear it as "you should stop being like you and be more like me, because I've got it all figured out." That almost never works. I'm not suggesting we can make people repent (we can't), just saying it needs to be given serious and careful consideration (note made to self) every time someone stands up to preach.

One of the best ways I know to do that is through story. A story easily gets past my defenses and gives me a picture of either what I am, or what I can be. I'll post a repentance story tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For the City (Missional Sync Blog)

A bunch of us in the blogosphere are attempting to capture (recapture?) the meaning of the word missional. So many great books have been written on the subject that I honestly feel silly trying to articulate it in the few paragraphs of a blog.

It's a hot topic, at least in my tradition. Since that is the theological teat on which I was succored (I firmly believe you should use the words 'teat' and 'succored' whenever possible), let me start there.

There's this denominational magazine that gets sent to pastors every few months. The title of it is GROW. It's all about, as you might guess, growing churches. How to, Who is, What they are doing, What you can do to be like them, etc. I don't mean any vitriol by that, it's just what is (I intentionally left a link to the magazine out).

And here's the thing, the growth is measured--almost exclusively--in terms of the number of people who show up at a service on a Sunday morning or a Saturday night (aka, "the weekend" in North American church speak). It's existence is funded by an attractional understanding of church. The point is, if I am correctly reading the subtext, butt's in the seat. So gracing it's pages are frequently numbered lists of churches with titles like: "Highest Worship Attendance", "Largest Gain in Sunday School," etc. Secretly, I find myself scanning the list to see if we "made it" or if someone I know "made it."

Now this isn't all bad. I think we on the missional side of things throw too many stones. I am regularly re-oriented to God during those corporate worship times. My life is made sense of in terms of God and I find myself renewed, reordered and refreshed. I actually want to face my life again. Do we not want people to have this experience? Isn't this part of the purpose of corporate worship? Do we want it to be an experience people don't want to attend? Is there anything wrong with making the environment where it happens conducive to the experience of God we want people to have?

Here's a bit of the rub. The magazine features interviews of pastors "making it happen" and one frequent refrain is about how a new Sunday School program or discipleship effort is "missional." Honestly, I just scratch my head and turn the page. I don't think they get it. I think they think that because they've organized everyone and everyone knows what they are to do and they are doing it for Jesus...well, then, that's missional.

So is it? And if it isn't (I don't think it is--it seems way to focused on self-preservation to warrant that descriptor), then what is it? Many others have spent time defining it on the other blogs of this synchro-blog, so instead of a defintion, here's an example to end this way-too-long post:

We have a local ecumenical retreat center in town called Richmond Hill--very sweet place--that loves and cares for the city (they do personal retreats btw. And talk about history, they are just down the street from St John's Church where Patrick Henry taunted the Brits with giving him liberty or death). They pray for metropolitan Richmond 3 times a day...and then they go do something about it.

To wit:
*They've connected virtually every elementary school in the predominantly Title 1 Richmond Public Schools with a congregation that comes in an mentors and tutors kids.
*They work tirelessly to unite the fractured political jurisdiction that is metropolitan Richmond (too long a story for this post), and they are place of hospitality and retreat for the entire city.
*They give themselves away and expect nothing in return. They focus on what's outside themselves and spend their time and money there. And here's the thing, as a result, I want to be where they are located. The warmth of the place is amazing.
*In short, they embody Jeremiah 29:7.

Ben (their outstanding pastoral director), one of the most well-connected people I know who uses those connections to love the city, said this in a newspaper interview that I think gets at the heart of what it means to be missional.

BlockquoteWe want to make sure we're real clear that God's interest is in the health of the metro area and it's people and not simply in churches. We want God's agenda out there for all of us.

So how does the local church become this when we live in "Highest Gain in Sunday School Attendance" land? Can you get there from here?

Here's are links to the other bloggers writing about today's topic:
Alan Hirsch
Alan Knox
Andrew Jones
Barb Peters
Bill Kinnon
Brad Brisco
Brad Grinnen
Brad Sargent
Brother Maynard
Bryan Riley
Chad Brooks
Chris Wignall
Cobus Van Wyngaard
Dave DeVries
David Best
David Fitch
David Wierzbicki
Doug Jones
Duncan McFadzean
Erika Haub
Jamie Arpin-Ricci
Jeff McQuilkin
John Smulo
Jonathan Brink
JR Rozko
Kathy Escobar
Len Hjalmarson
Makeesha Fisher
Malcolm Lanham
Mark Berry
Mark Petersen
Mark Priddy
Michael Crane
Michael Stewart
Nick Loyd
Patrick Oden
Peggy Brown
Phil Wyman
Richard Pool
Rick Meigs
Rob Robinson
Ron Cole
Scott Marshall
Sonja Andrews
Stephen Shields
Steve Hayes
Tim Thompson
Thom Turner

Friday, June 20, 2008

What Ministry Looks Like

BlockquoteUsing your resources, gifts or abilities to meet someone else's needs.

Ministry usually takes the form of conversation, or waiting, or helping. It's always person to person. It's almost always ordinary and mundane. It rarely has an immediate effect, but it always has an immediate cost.

Here's a picture of what that looks like.

This is Victor. He spends times talking to teenage guys about their lives. He hangs out. He is a minister.

This is Jenn. She and her husband are in our small group. She waits on kids while they use the bathroom. She is a minister.

This is Todd, Jenn's husband. He goes into people's homes and repairs their electricity so their lives are easier. Plus, in his spare time he lets kids dunk him in the water. He is a minister.

This is Juliana. She's also in our small group. She stays home with her kids and works to raise them to be who God made them to be. She is a minister.

This is Russ (green shirt) and Karen. They stand around in the heat and make sure kids don't eat too many cookies. They are ministers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In the Navy

At the invitation of a friend, I recently went to Norfolk, VA, home of the world's largest naval base.

My friend is a Navy Chaplain (they call him "Chaps") who both loves what he does and is outstanding at what he does (two things which seem to routinely go together, by the way).

Some things I observed worth noting for those of us working in church-world:
  • There is an insane amount of preparation for a mission. In fact, there is as much activity on ships and on base before the mission as during the mission. The Chaplain said often going out to sea is relaxing compared to the pace of life when on shore.
  • Everyone knows what they are to do. Everyone's role is specific and very clearly outlined.
  • There is a constant flow of communication. They meet every day to coordinate who is doing what when and why. Interestingly, the officers each had two computers. One for regular email and the other for "secret" email. I wonder what the secrets are? Recipes for Navy Beans? Directions to the nearest Old Navy?
  • No duty is too small. We walked by several sailors doing dumpster duty. An aircraft carrier had just come into port and the sailors were disembarking and getting rid of their trash. With 5,000 souls on board, making sure the trash got into the right dumpster was pretty important.
  • Not sure if they were sorting it to recycle it, but it looked that way. Not a very fun duty though...
  • Taking care of what you've got. Whether it was a 25 year old ship being cleaned, shined, buffed and or the bodies of the sailors (people were running everywhere on base), they took care of their resources. While there, the Chaplain and I lifted weights (@ 0630) and went for a run (@ 1300), all of it "on the clock." Pastors could learn a lot from that.

An aircraft carrier--just massive. Pictures don't do it justice. The deck alone is 3.5 acres.

Chaps from behind and here (on the right) with the Quartermaster (the guy in charge of the maps). What you don't see just to the left is a screen with a little red sticker indicating that whatever is on the monitor is "SECRET." I tried to take a picture of it (it only had directions to the nearest Old Navy), but they both threatened to shoot me.
Cooler heads prevailed and I lived to blog another day.

The first picture is one of the ships my friend serves as a Chaplain, the USS Mason

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shaping the Future

Someone very bright recently threw out this zinger in a conversation we were having:

BlockquoteWe either shape the future, or the future will shape us.

That's true of any endeavor, and because my "endeavor" is the world and life of the church, I want to pause and think about what that might mean...on Monday, June 23.

Rick Meigs is hosting a synchronized blog on the topic, "What is Missional?" on that day. So far, almost 50 people in the blog-osphere have signed up to post their thoughts.

The topic, if you aren't in church world, is a hot one and gets at how and why the church does what it is that the church does. Hope you can make it back then.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Um, yeah.

While this certainly isn't fun for any of us, imagine being in the thirld world and having your food prices (that you already can't afford) go up. That's what's happening globally.

As my one of my seminary profs used to say in talking about the Lord's prayer, our example is Jesus, who prayed it so that his praying and living were the same thing.

"Give us this day our daily bread..."

If we pray that, then we'll ultimately realize we have to do something about it and become one of the means God uses to answer that prayer. It's a dangerous prayer.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Baby That Ate New York

Corban, our second, is huge. I mean, just monster proportions.

Some of his stats:
6 1/2 months old.
24 lbs. 10 oz.
120% percentile (which means he is 20% bigger than every other baby on the planet his age.)

To put it into perspective, he is the same size of multiple kids we know that are 12-18 months old. We are pretty sure that he is going to be an NFL linebacker and build mommy and daddy a retirement home. Something we'll be needing if we keep on pastoring.

Now I mean nothing damaging, because he's as cute as he can be. (So Corban if you are reading this as a teenager or an adult, please tell your therapist that your dad really does love you). Proof of his cuteness is below via a cell phone shot snapped while we were taking family pictures. Plus, he's maybe the happiest baby I've known. A really great kid who loves to laugh and smile.

A picture of his big brother and their beautiful mom too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What it Means to Lead with Grace

BlockquoteThe only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."
--George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Color Blind

Scott is my college roomate. He and his wife Gail (along with there three girls Allison, Emma and Olivia) are doctors in Papua New Guinea, all the way on the other side of the planet. He's an incredibly thoughtful, diligent, dedicated and honest follower of Jesus. I've probably learned as much from him as anyone about what it means to know and love Jesus and the things and people Jesus loves.
He sent out this email about his youngest daughter and I thought it was just great. With the impending race card that's going to get thrown around a lot in the next few months now that Barack Obama has sealed the deal for the Democratic party, I thought this was fitting.
BlockquoteTonight Gail was asking about someone that came over and was trying to figure out who Olivia was talking about. Gail asked if the person had black skin or white skin. Olivia said, “black skin” but Gail didn’t know if Olivia really knew. So then Gail asked, “Olivia, do you have black skin or white skin?” Olivia looked down and said, “white” but then Gail said, “where is it white?” She pointed to her pajamas (which were yellow).

Wouldn’t it be nice to have to really think about what color your skin was or what other peoples skin was without really caring either way?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stay With Me (further thoughts on evangelism)

I'm reading Lesslie Newbigin's classic work: The Gospel in a Pluralist Society that out to be required reading for anyone trying to tell and live the message of Jesus in, well...a pluralist society.

It's a pretty heady work, but it's right on track and offers a very urgent and needed message, so stay with me. I think there's a goldmine at the other end (though we'll see if I can get it there, so this will be a bit of a long post. I know, I know, I hate long posts too--but that doesn't somehow keep me from using them. Physician! Heal thyself!).
In talking about John's gospel, particularly Jesus' statements from chapters 14-16, Newbigin makes this comment on the implications of John 16:13 ("When he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth..."):
BlockquoteTo the Church...the work of the Spirit will be "to declare the things that are
to come," to interpret coming events, to be the hermeneutic of the world's
continuing history."
First, what's a hermeneutic? A short history of the word.
  • The word derives from the greek god Hermes, the messenger of the god's. He sent the message the god's wanted the people to hear (aka, the little naked guy on the FTD florist logo).
  • It refers to the message that is being sent and how we understand that same message.
  • And now means "the art and science of biblical interpretation," i.e., the lens through which we see and experience and then live the message of the Bible.
Second, everybody has a hermeneutic--a lens through which we see and interpret what happens in our lives and our world. As in "Oh, my mom's death meant that." "That my kids no longer love me means this." "That I can't get a job means that." "That he loves me means this." Etc.

We attach meaning and value to what is happening because of the way we interpret what is happening. And for most of us, we never give that lens a second thought. We live, for better or worse, unexamined lives, accepting whatever old lens is blown our way by the prevailing winds around us. A hermeneutic (even if you don't know what it is) is a very important thing.

So--and stay with me--to get back to Newbigin's statement about the role of the Holy Spirit, this means that the Holy Spirit of God interprets history (aka, the events of our lives and how they fit into God's efforts to save and redeem all of creation) to us the Church, the people of God. In other words, we are given a lens through which to understand all the tragedies and joys of life, and not in an unthinking way (because even with a hermeneutic, you still have to decipher and weigh and make sense of things).
So (and keeping staying with me because I think we are close to the gold mine), does this then mean that the Church is to do the same thing for the world? That we help the world make sense of the tsunami's and earthquakes and 9/11's and divorces and addictions and injustices and to quote Hamlet, "the thousand (other) natural shocks that flesh is heir to." And we also help make sense of falling in love and beautiful art and a good meal and having children and playing in the sand at the beach.

In short, we interpret what it means to be human.

And if that is the case, what kinds of relationships would we need to have for the world--that is, the people around us every day--to actually trust and listen to our interpretation? It's a basic given of human nature that we don't listen to someone's take on things without being really close to them. And what's more, we don't listen until we've been listened to.

Christians are often guilty of having a lot to say (like on a blog, for instance) but not having anyone to really say it to (like, again, on, ahem, a blog, for instance). We think we have the answers, but no one is listening because they don't know us.

So maybe we need to change evangelism from 'who can we get to listen to us?' to 'who are we listening to?' In the listening, we show them what it means to be human.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Good Life Motto

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
As long as you ever can.

John Wesley, 1703 - 1791 and one of my heroes

Friday, June 06, 2008

Why Christianity is Fundamentally Ennobling of Persons and Why My Life Makes Sense and Actually Means Something

From David Crowder's song:

"God, you make everything glorious. And I am yours. What does that make me?"

Things That Aren't Fair

In my work as a pastor, I've come across a few things in the last couple days that just aren't fair.

In his sermon on what it means to live all of life under the influence and authority of God, Jesus said two things about this:
1 - God sends his rain on the just and the unjust and (Matthew 5:45)
2 - Both the wise and the foolish man experience storms. (Matthew 7:24-29)

Your "goodness" is no open invitation to pleasure and no barrier against pain.
And that rain often just isn't fair. Here's what I experienced.
  • Visited a guy in the Neurological ICU unit, there because in an attempt to commit suicide, he shot off the left side of his face. His life is forever changed and so are the lives of his wife and two boys. Not fair.
  • My close friends have already been through a lot. Tracy had thyroid cancer as a teenager. Their first son has a congenital thyroid condition that requires constant medication and their daughter has SMA, which means she will always need 24 hour care and likely won't live into her twenties. Tracy was diagnosed 2 days ago with breast cancer at 35. Not fair.
So what do you do? Rail against the heavens? Curse God? Curse yourself? Curse the day you were born? Or accept Jesus' wisdom--that the issue isn't what happens (because who of us can control that?)--it's what happens in you and through you. A tough pill to swallow to be sure.
Want more on this? Download Dr. Tim Keller's message on Darkness.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm a Work in Progress

I frequent Leading Smart, a great blog by Tim Stevens, a pastor at a very innovative church in Granger, Indiana.

Reading his post yesterday on advice to a new blogger, I was stopped by number 8. Here it is.

Blockquote8. Don't Criticize. This is a life lesson, not just a blog lesson. So many people have to validate what they think by cutting down someone else. Just don't do it. You can elevate what works, what you believe, what you think--without criticizing the opposing view.

Which made me, er...ahem...uhhhhhhh...gulp, realize I'd done just that. Not in a huge way, but I'd done it against Perry Noble. So here is my personal vow. No more criticism of a person. Ideas, concepts, approaches--all fair game, but no labeling/name calling/pejorativizing (I just made that word up) of people.

I think Tim is right. More is gained by putting an opinion out without also having to bring someone else down. It's a fine line, but I'll do my best.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Loving the Truth, part 3

Jared, one of my close friends, recently posted about his son's complete and utter truth telling in a way to summed up beautifually what I've been trying to understand and communicate in this series on Loving the Truth.

In his searching work (widely considered the greatest devotional writing of the last 500 years), The Imitiation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis said that we must learn to love the truth, no matter where it comes from. Easier said than done, because who actually likes to hear the truth about themselves?? We dodge, avoid, pull evasive maneuvers, defend, and justify all because we don't like to hear the truth.

John Wesley (heavily influenced by a Kempis' book) said that when we are with each we ought "to speak as plainly as possible" to each other. He encouraged a ruthless honesty buoyed by deep community.

Jared's son Jake (3 1/2 years old) apparently gets this better than the rest of us. An excerpt from Jared's post is below and you can read the whole post here.

BlockquoteScholars have bantered about numerous ideas concerning what it means to become like a little child; I'm sure there's more than one possible answer. But
I was reminded the other day of one aspect of being child-like. We were out with a friend who was holding Jake's hand walking through a store. One of the women who worked there struck up a conversation with him and he politely answered all her questions. She said to him, "wow, are you always this good?" My friend started making some kind remarks about how nice he was and Jake interrupted with a vigorous head shake and a very clear, "No."
He was telling the truth. Even though it didn't put him in the best possible light, he just came right out with it. He didn't have the sophistication to think about how to answer the question in a way that would make him look as good as possible. He didn't think for a moment that his answer might cause him to be loved less. He just said what he knew to be true.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Going Green

Yep, we're going green. Ukrops, the world's greatest grocery store (seriously, moving here from KC I thought it was Hen House, but I now stand corrected), supplied the recycled poly-bags and we're using them in an effort to take care of the planet; less junk in the landfill and less bags for me to have to wrestle with every time I open the pantry door.

There are plenty of people out there in church-world who think this is just nuts and has absolutely nothing to do with the message of and about Jesus.

For instance, Perry Noble, speaking at the recent Whiteboard Conference (couldn't go, but read the notes) said he wouldn't be caught dead talking about the environment. He'll stick to the Gospel of Jesus, thank you very much. And he's a phenomenal leader and even better communicator.
Nonetheless, that's the common sentiment from people who think we've somehow abandoned the Gospel (apparently, using the phrase "the gospel" makes your point more valid when doing this) by also caring for the environment. But, frankly--and no disrespect to Perry meant--that's an ignorant and post-world-war-II-church-culture-bound reading of Scripture.

Here's a brief biblical rationale for caring for the planet.
  1. God created the world--the physical world we walk on every day--and said it was good.

  2. God gave us the earth and told us to fill the earth and care for it. Some translations say, "subdue it", which has lent itself to all kinds of "let's do whatever we want with the earth" kinds of readings and actions. But the original word means something like "to tend and care for in order to make it even more productive." It's basic stewardship.

  3. In the biblical story, this was all before sin enters the world. Again, this isn't a minor point. No sin=a good material creation + caring for the earth God made for us to care for.

  4. In the end, God doesn't junk this "test model" for a "better" disembodied existence somewhere else. He recreates it: A new heaven and a new earth. How you think everything will end up someday determines how you act today.

And here's the irony. Part of Perry's point is that he want to keep the main thing, the main thing. And I agree. The environment is not our God. It's not the whole gospel. But it certainly is an implication of living out the Gospel.

Because if we are really "preaching Jesus" won't that result in people who take the Bible seriously; who then care for the poor, visit the sick, speak up for the oppressed, and take care of the environment? And isn't that a really attractive way to live in the first place, thus making Jesus more appealing and "preaching" Jesus without having to drag people into a church service to hear about God? Aren't we living the Kingdom of God?

Plus anyway you look at it, I'm saving $.05 with every bag of groceries I take home in my new (and much roomier than a paper bag) recycled bag. And that means that in about a year, I'll have saved enough to stop at Starbucks for a skim venti, light caramel, Caramel Macchiato. :-)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rethinking Evangelism

Evangelism sends shivers down the spines of most Christians (and non-Christians). Usually because they see it as a bad and scary thing.

And that's usually because the average person thinks of the "requirement" to evangelize as something like an Amway sales pitch for Jesus. It's a bad formula that just doesn't work. It goes something like this:
Perfect life + Perfect Jesus-pick-up-line + Perfect sales pitch + Perfect smile = A conversion every time.

Evangelism literally means "good message," and what person in their right mind doesn't want a bit of good news sent their way? So the question is, why is the way it's usually seen come across as such bad news?? And if it's good news, why don't more people respond to it?

As has been famously said: The medium is the message. In other words, people don't hear good news when it's delivered in a bad way. And it seems very much that in trying to deliver good news as a sales pitch, we've become bad news.

These guys are working against that. Trying to re-vision it as something that flows out of life instead of something forced onto people.

From a great article on their website, "The Lost Art of Being Normal":

In the movie, The Big Kahuna, Danny DeVito’s character gives great advice on what I’ve been calling “The Lost Art of Being Normal”:
BlockquoteIf you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are - just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore; it’s a pitch. And you’re not a human being; you’re a marketing rep."