The flowing are some things I've been thinking about but don't have the time to write them out fully:
I) The benefit of criticism. We tend to view criticism as if it came from the pit of hell. Whenever I've heard clergy persons speak of criticism it's usually about the kind they've been on the receiving end of and they feel unduly wronged. I'm thinking we've been wrong on at least three accounts. 1) Clergy persons are not simply criticized, but they also criticize and generally they want to retain that ability. 2) Clergy persons are not alone in being the recipients of criticism, leaders of all stripes are criticized. Mom and dads face criticism from kids and from the nucleus of the family it spreads to all other venues of private and public life. 3) There is an upside to receiving criticism, but few folks ever realize it, or embrace it. The upside includes: shaping and refining good things into great things, adjusting our egos when they are completely out of proportion, reminding leaders that path to true leadership is through servanthood, delivering an affirmation when a difficult but necessary path is being taken. I'm sure there are more positives to criticism, but these are just a few.
II) I've been thinking about why people I know is dating relationships are breaking up this summer. I've watched two teenage couples call it off at the beginning of the summer. I think it's for the best, but it seems to be an intriguing time to call it quits.
III) I've been reading some interesting books: Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas, published by Zondervan. Also, Best Practices, written by some folks at Arthur Andersen. This book was published before the consulting firm split from the accounting firm. Whatever your take on Arthur Andersen this book is worthy of a good read - too bad the top brass at AA didn't do it earlier.
IV) I finished reading M.Scott Peck's work, People of the Lie. A disturbing book. For a week or two you can see demons around every corner. Probably ought to read this on the front side of a retreat and then go into a period of seclusion to work out its implications. I also finished an article from Psychology Today. November/December 2004. A Nation of Wimps, by Hara Estroff Marano. The summary: "Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're breaking down in record numbers."