The Civil Conversations Project

I just discovered the Civil Conversations Project (CivilConversationsProject.org), and invite all to visit and support their good work.

I’ve not written an entry is quite some time, but a major breakthrough in my business model has put me in the search for a nonprofit to donate my company to. I no longer need outside investment to prove my model, and therefore don’t need to organize as a B Corp.

In my search for an aligned entity that can make the most of my “invention” (to fund the empowerment of deliberative democracy), I was perusing http://www.Fetzer.org. The Fetzer Institute has a wonderful mission:

To foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.

They’ve support the Collective Wisdom Initiative, and also provide support to the Civil Conversations Project (hosted by OnBeing.org). I’ve reached out to the staff, and hope to start a conversation and collaboration.

In reviewing some of the comments to a conversation between a fundamentalist and a progressive, I ran across one that struck a nerve. A fellow progressive had a vitriolic reaction to allowing a conservative evangelical to have a voice on a progressive platform. I crafted a response, and realized after the fact that I finally had a blog entry (that in my opinion was worth posting):

Jeff,

I can certainly sympathize with your comment, as one who has been very outspoken against fundamentalism for years. That was until I found the same degree of “certainty” among many of my atheists friends, that there was nothing beyond what science could explore (and no reason to talk about it, nor to genuinely respect those who believe otherwise).

I have come to know several conservative evangelicals, who I now count among my best friends. My frustration that they don’t see my “truth” is mirrored pretty equally by their frustration that I don’t see theirs. It is hard to overstate the importance that mutual respect has, irrespective of our (perhaps permanently) different webs of belief. I have had my own blinders and tunnel vision remediated a bit, and they would acknowledge the same.

Politically empowering our collective wisdom, compassion, and creativity is now my life work. The median voter, even after being informed and perhaps transformed by respectful dialogue is still going be to the right of me, but as professor James Fishkin has been demonstrating for decades now, rather more progressive than the median “voter” in our current, de facto plutocracy.

Respecting one another should not, of course, be motivated primarily by the instrumental gains of empowering economic populism. But in point of fact, the empowering of deliberative democracy has as a wonderful side effect a transformative influence. Our hatred toward the “other” decreases in proportion to our understanding of them.

Some of my conservative friends may still think that I’m going to eternal Hell, but they are now saddened at that prospect. Some of them are questioning the veracity of eternal Hell, and I’m most delighted by that.

I could not be more supportive of the Civil Conversation Project!

Norlyn Dimmitt

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CentristProject.org + VOP.org – Even more hope for Democracy!

My passion is to help empower deliberative democracy, to leverage our collective wisdom and compassion, and to expedite the path to a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Two recently discovered projects are major steps toward that vision.

CentristProject.org is working to create a  Centrist Party (drawing from the collective wisdom of all sides). It is the perfect complement to the Citizen Cabinet initiative of VOP.org, which is directly aimed at empowering deliberative democracy.

I look at both as synergistic parts of the larger Transpartisan Movement.

For everyone who shares my passion for a world that works for all, visit CentristProject.org and VOP.org, sign up, and spread the word.

Norlyn

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VOP.org – Real Hope for Democracy and for the Future

VOP.org (Voice Of the People) is the most promising initiative that I’ve encountered in 17 years of following the Transpartisan Movement (aka Deliberative Democracy Movement).

Fully 75% of the public supports a Citizen Cabinet.  This Citizen Cabinet would  serve both to hold our U.S. Representatives accountable to their constituencies, and provide valuable “collective wisdom” as we seek solutions to important policy issues.

73% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats support the idea, and a number of former U.S. Representatives (almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats) are on the board of advisors.

I will be writing at much greater length about this important initiative, but for this short intro I just want to highly encourage everyone who reads this to go to VOP.org, sign the petition, and above all, SPREAD THE WORD!!!

I will confess to being one of those who believes that climate change is the most pressing issue facing civilization.  But whatever issue you think is the most pressing issue that is failing to be addressed adequately by our broken, highly partisan Congress, that issue is the reason that you should care very much about the VOP initiative.

Most of my blog entries have been about the importance of “Empowering Public Wisdom” (the title of Tom Atlee’s powerful 2012 manifesto — most of which is free online at http://empoweringpublicwisdom.us/author/thomasfatley/).

Bottom line, VOP.org is the most promising attempt to actualize the vision that Tom Atlee, Jim Fishkin, and many other transpartisans have been so passionately sharing for decades.

I will be devoting a great deal of energy to supporting VOP in 2014, and I encourage everyone who sees the great importance of fixing our democracy to do the same.

Merry Christmas!

Norlyn

 

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Solving the Puzzles of the New Testament

As I continue with my re-engagement with Christianity (after closing the door on my father’s warped fundamentalism 41 years ago), I am crossing paths regularly with Christians who are truly Christ-centric (not Paul-centric). Howard Pepper is a breath of fresh air, and it has been a delight to get to know him. For anyone who believes that what Jesus taught matters greatly, but that “Bible idolatry” severely limits and distorts the meaning of an infinite God of infinite love, I highly recommend Howard’s blog.

Natural Spirituality - Loving Forum for Spiritual Harmony & Growth

When I got the idea of a short article about understanding the New Testament, I started to mentally list some of the puzzles and enigmas that exist in this small library.  There are many!  I began reviewing how different people deal with the stories there, and the new theological ideas that truly “soar to the heavens” and plumb the depths of the human condition.   I realized that to even lay out some of the key enigmas, or the concepts that have captured the hearts of so many through 20 centuries, while remaining “foolishness” (Apostle Paul) to so many others, would itself take more than a whole post.

 

 

So I’ll suggest just one of the most explored issues, at or near the core of so many others: Just who was Jesus Christ? 

 

There is the human Jesus, the real man who gained a rather small following…

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R.I.P., JFK, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley.

On Nov 22, 1963, America arguably lost its three most influential thought leaders, in the realm of American spirituality (traversing Catholicism, Protestantism, and the Human Potential Movement, respectively).

I’d like to reflect a bit on all three, in the light of that claim.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

On Nov 21, 1963 JFK was arguably more influential to American Catholics than the new Pope, Paul VI.  As the leader “carrying the torch of a new generation”, JFK was closer in age and spirit to the countercultural revolutionaries that were soon to appear en masse in American.  Catholic sensibilities in America were deeply affected by

“the continued push for civil rights in the U.S. and the advent of the contraceptive pill, legal abortion and homosexual rights movements in many countries in the wake of their sexual revolutions.” [Wikipedia on Pope Paul VI]

After JFK, American Catholics may have deviated from the Vatican’s position on birth control more than any other nation with a significant Catholic population.  As important as Pope Paul VI was in subsequent years to the cause of the Second Vatican Council, and to the cause of ecumenical dialogue that is so important to our current quest for peace, on Nov 21, 1963, American Catholics were still basking in the pride of having the first Catholic president, and were probably influenced more, all things considered, by JFK than the Pope.

But that isn’t sufficient to make the case.  Ironically, given that JFK was a progressive, the election of the first Catholic president was a seismic shift that lead ultimately to Catholics being much more fully embraced by Protestant conservatives in the culture wars that picked up momentum in the ensuing decades.  A great deal of JFK’s influence on the subsequent direction of American politics was thoroughly unintended, but influential nonetheless!

C.S. Lewis

No evangelist in the 20th century comes close to Billy Graham in terms of influence.  Advisor to most presidents since Eisenhower, and converter of millions, if the Gallup poll on “most admired men and women” is the gauge, Billy Graham is the most admired person of the century, appearing on the list 55 times since 1955.

But a thousand years from now, when Billy Graham is a footnote, along with Billy Sunday and Dwight Moody, it is quite likely that the works of C.S. Lewis (an Irish intellectual who spent most of his life in England) will still be exerting an influence on American Christians. It is even possible that Christianity a thousand years hence will have transcended the denominational divisions that have plagued it since the Protestant reformation, in the light of his unifying message in Mere Christianity.

On Nov 22, 1963, we lost the most influential Christian writer of the 20th century, and we hardly noticed.

Aldous Huxley

We know Aldous Huxley primarily as the author of the dystopian novel Brave New World (1932), which Modern Library names as the 5th most influential novel of the 20th century.  Fans of The Doors (and a great number of LSD users from the 60s who took Timothy Leary’s work to heart) might argue that The Doors of Perception (1954) is more influential.

But I will argue that looking out a thousand years, his most influential book will be his comparative study of mysticism, The Perennial Philosophy (1945), written well before the Human Potential Movement, and a decade before any of the posthumously published writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

I admit a deep personal bias for The Perennial Philosophy — it was the book that made sense of my powerful mystical experience in 1980.  But it is also a book that goes much further than C.S. Lewis.  It takes Christian mystics very seriously, but makes room for Eastern mystics.  In finding a deep common core between East and West, it provides a blueprint for broader spiritual reconciliation that, when combined with the works of the inestimably important Jesuit paleontologist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin; and the work since Abraham Maslow in the rich terrain of transpersonal psychology; it might just illuminate the path to a unifying evolutionary spirituality — one that transcends the intractable theological disputes arising from so many organized faith traditions, each with different conceptions of Truth and Goodness.

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Democracy is Dead (unless and until we take it back)

I’m not just looking for the silver lining in the Senatorial travesty that allowed the NRA’s nefarious goals to trump public safety (and the will of 90% of the citizens).  I’m determined to make lemonade out of some very bitter lemons.

This morning, I had a stimulating and productive conversation with Michael Pink, who is also trying to change the world by leveraging the economic power of the real estate industry.  For more on his vision for “Socially Responsible Real Estate”, visit www.IIConline.org.

Michael and I are in the beginning stages of trying to forming a unique group of volunteer “board advisors” to help implement our shared vision, starting with Illinois.

The group will plan and guide the execution of a local prototype of  my much larger vision of reforming residential brokerage.  Real estate is, and will remain predominantly local, and it makes sense to “Act Locally”, while “Thinking Globally”, at least until the overall model is proven in Chicagoland.

The initial goal is to impact the federal 2014 midterm elections in an Illinois congressional district, by generating funding for transpartisan initiatives that will enable the election of a transpartisan candidate (from either party, or a third party).  A transpartisan candidate is one who has pledged to support the principles of deliberative democracy and to be held accountable to a “democracy scorecard” that reflects the informed will of their entire constituency.

 

 

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Elevator Pitch – Conscious Capitalism, Democracy and a Sustainable Future

Residential real estate brokerage in the U.S. is roughly a $60 billion a year industry.

Almost half ($30 billion) is paid for listing services, even though the average listing takes one third the time of the average buyer transaction (the other $30 billion).  On that statistic alone there is $20 billion of theoretical inefficiency embedded in the listing side of the equation.

Examining the problem more deeply, there is as much as a 95% (2 x 2 x 5 = 20 fold) theoretical inefficiency on the listing side for the average newer agent (given the astronomical turnover rate, most are newer):

  1. 50-50 broker splits
  2. Fewer than 50% of listings taken to closing
  3. 75-80% of time spent prospecting

The 50-50 broker split afflicts the buyer agent side as well.

While theoretical inefficiency is rather higher than actually eradicable inefficiency, there are a number of plausible constructions (substantially improving on each of the measures above) that will generate over $20 billion of value per year.

Add to the above equation the increase in quality and efficiency of introducing:

  1. division of labor (the multiple roles Realtors assume require multiple personalities as well as detracting from the quality that comes from focus);
  2. econometric precision pricing to deliver substantially better results for sellers (the CMA/appraisal model has a huge error range, leading to lower expected sales prices.)
  3. income stability for Realtors (base and benefits plus bonus) to attract more talent, and ultimately lower the cost of labor (1099s rightfully demand much more expected income, to compensate for the much higher uncertainty).

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Finally, consider the power of constructing the enterprise as a Benefit Corporation, dedicated to building a just and sustainable future for all (via transpartisan democratic reform and other collaborative projects that fully tap our collective wisdom and compassion).

The increased marketing efficacy (sellers — do good, while you save money and secure better results); and the decreased cost of human capital (Realtors — do well, while doing good) would both increase the wealth creation of the enterprise, even as it creates an implicit barrier to entry against purely for-profit imitators.

I firmly believe that we can create a peaceful, just and sustainable world for all (now and in the future), by instituting transpartisan deliberative democracy (empowering the “informed and transformed will of the people”); and by redirecting the tremendous power of capitalism.  Both projects have a common thread – the transformative power of collaboratively leveraging our compassion.

Norlyn

norlyn@sbcglobal.net

630-362-4663

P.S. Please comment, critique, and above all, join the conversation!  If you are not already, invite me to connect via LinkedIn.

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