Three Practices

Three Practices Group

Facebook is an accurate model of what it looks like when conversation occurs without respect, curiosity, and kindness.  Comments following the posting of a political or religious opinion are too often judgmental, even vulgar.

A rule of discussion often heard today is, “never discuss religion or politics.”  However, there is a problem with that rule.  It ends all possibility of progress.  Without discussion, people cannot reach solutions to challenges and problems.  Nor can they learn to understand one another.

Three friends in Peoria, Illinois have allowed their friendship to become the centerpiece of a movement designed to model practices that embrace, rather than avoid, huge ideological differences.  Differences that, in some places, have caused wars or social estrangement.

The Great Valley Chapter of American Leadership Forum is committed to sharing the Three Practices with the Central Valley, beginning in Merced.  We’d love for you to join us in this project.

To learn more about No Joke, you can watch a TEDx Talk about the Three Practices, and you can watch a 30-minute short about the Peoria Three who started this all.  Let us hear from you.

EVERYthing happens for a reason.

“It was meant to be.”

“The Universe wanted me to….”

“I was supposed to learn something from that.”

“There are no coincidences.”

“There’s a reason for everything.”

These statements are nearly universal, and there is no pattern to them. Atheists, believers, liberals and conservatives, and people characterized as either spiritual or not use some version of these statements.  Many (I would say most) believe in some form of fate, destiny, providence, or another form of external manipulative power. Continue reading

Car Repair

Coming down the hill from Yosemite required downshifting in order to spare the brakes.  Third gear worked the best, but it was not meant for the flat straight-aways.

But getting the shifter back into Drive required determined strength, inspiring a moment of concern about the remainder of the trip home.  This was not pleasant to be discovering this at 60 miles an hour. Continue reading

The Loaded Question

“Did you see the picture of the President praying with his council of religious leaders,” he asked.  “What did you think about it?’

We were in the produce department of the grocery store.  The question came immediately after ‘hello.”  Not a good sign.

It was soon apparent to me that this was a loaded question, based on the presumption that I would agree with his opinion about the praying President picture.  “You’re a pastor; surely you would find the picture gratifying and refreshing.” Continue reading

We have the Temple of the Lord!

Ancient Israel was politically and religiously pragmatic.  The earliest description of this can be seen in the nation’s clamor for a Golden Calf to quell their fears at Mount Sinai.

Fearing that God had abandoned them, they called for Aaron to cast an idol they could see and worship. They did this In spite of the fact that the Calf was of their own making and had no existence prior to the time when they turned their jewelry into a statue. Continue reading

No Joke


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no-jokeNo Joke

by Jim Henderson and Cara Highsmith

At a small group meeting recently I told a group of people from our church about the imam, rabbi, and pastor from Peoria.  “Sounds like a joke,” said one of our group members.  It does sound like a joke!

But it’s not.  These three men from Peoria are real, honest-to-goodness friends.  And Jim Henderson is helping them take their wonderful story public.  It’s a story we all need to hear because of the rancor, fear, and division we’ve all experienced in the past year. Continue reading

Personal Pronouns

personal-prounounsMy editor asked me to rewrite the piece I was working on, using no personal pronouns. It seemed like an impossible request.

Everything I do has some sort of personal reference.  When I get in my car I am thinking about where I want to go.  Or, when eating, what will taste good to me.  Or, when speaking, whether I will receive accolades from those listening. Continue reading

Living with the Lord’s Prayer

prayer_handsI grew up being taught that the Lord’s Prayer was irrelevant to the lives of contemporary Christians because the Kingdom, for which Jesus prays, was now present in the church.  Why pray for something that already exists?  Right?

So much of my life I missed out on the benefits of living inside the world of Jesus’ concerns and requests of God.  It wasn’t until the last several years that the Prayer became a daily part of my life. Continue reading

Kingdom of God

marine-litterI didn’t grow up inside a culture of respect for the earth.  “Earth” as a totality – flora and fauna, beauty, wildness, and wonder.

In my childhood we used disposable products with abandon; old car oil was often poured out on the ground, and we never considered the impact that disposed plastics would have on our world.  Pesticides caused a decline in bird populations.  Oceans started to become big toilets  where our detritus was flushed when it rained.  And, worst of all, people became as disposable as our throw away products. Continue reading