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News That Illustrates: January 28, 2013

How do big sports cheaters get caught? The little things …
Lance Armstrong's confession to cheating has been big news lately, but Armstrong is far from the first athlete to cheat. But what gets people caught year after year? Hint - it's the little things. While everyone talks a good game, it's our fallen human nature to try and get ourselves ahead in competition, even if it's unethical or outright dangerous. This article explores 5 famous cheaters and what brought them down. For instance, in 1980 Rosie Ruiz was disqualified for skipping part of the Boston Marathon. In 2000, team members for the 2000 Spanish Paralympics basketball team lied about their IQ tests. After winning a gold medal, family and friends pointed out that many of these men with intellectual disabilities actually had college degrees. It's the same way in the spiritual life. No matter how much you think you've thought it through, be sure your sin will find you out.

PREACHING ANGLES: Honesty; Integrity; Sin; Sin, consequences of

To all the cheaters out there: We forgive you
Americans have seen a whole parade of cheaters in the last few decades—Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, Mark Sanford (the former governor of South Carolina), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Roger Clemens, Bernie Maddoff, and now Lance Armstrong. A USA Today article asks, when it comes to fallen heroes, is there anything Americans won't forgive? Frank Farley, the former president of the American Psychological Association, claims that America is the land of second chances. "All you have to do is ask [and you will be granted forgiveness]—especially if you can throw a ball, sing a song, make a speech, coach a team, or hold the camera." But of course that raises some theological questions: What is true forgiveness? What part does repentance and restitution play? If you're preaching on forgiveness, this article is filled with great quotes.

PREACHING ANGLES: Forgiveness, divine; Forgiveness, human

Honesty Pays Off
Wall Street recruiters get their fill of resumes, most of which contain inflated GPA figures and exaggerated job skills. But one applicant caught many eyes when he did the exact opposite: He was honest. The applicant's cover letter included this dose of reality: "I won't waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line … about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you." Apparently the bankers were impressed and indicated that they would be calling the applicant for an interview.

PREACHING ANGLES: Character; Honesty; Integrity

Great Words that Don't have English Equivalents
Ever been searching for just the right word … but couldn't find it? Maybe it's because you're speaking English. Of course every language has its strong points of vocabulary, but some go just a little out of their way to express a very specific situation or emotion. There was an article up on The Week recently that listed 14 great ones. Here are a few of the standouts:

"Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you're really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can't stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, "I accidentally ate the whole thing."
"Tartle (Scots)
Refers to that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember."

Human language sometimes has experiences that we can't always put into words, but it doesn't mean that the experience (or the word) isn't out there. It's the same with the spiritual life. Just because you can't quite put your finger on what you're experiencing doesn't make that experience invalid. And odds are good that someone out there has felt (and articulated) it too.

PREACHING ANGLES: Communication; Spirituality

The Sexual Revolution: A Brief Report
In a recent blog post, veteran journalist Tim Stafford wrote a short but profound appraisal of the sexual revolution. He calls it the revolution that kept rolling and is rolling still. Stafford is no alarmist, but his calm and measurement assessment is disturbing. For instance, Stafford writes, "I sometimes used to think the pendulum would swing back, but we've lived with some pretty horrendous consequences of the sexual revolution—millions dead of AIDS, a fatherless generation—and there's not the slightest sign of retreat. What I foresee is more. Whatever structures remain are on shaky ground. The chief remaining taboos—rape, sexual harassment, child sex abuse, child pornography, man-boy relations—have in common that there is a youthful or non-consenting victim. Maybe that reservation will hold. We'll see." The article contains a number of preachable quotes.

PREACHING ANGLES: Immorality; Sex; Sexuality

Lessons from Google's people policies.
Google gets what makes for a great organization—people. The tech giant has one of the most advanced and proactive HR departments in the world, and it shows. Employee retention, often a problem in the tech industry, is extremely high, and Google has been repeatedly voted the best place to work. But they weren't always that way. This article from Slate tells how Google's executives realized that they were losing key employees, especially new mothers, at a far higher rate than they wanted. In response they implemented an HR strategy that was based on giving people more benefits than they asked for, higher flexibility in their jobs, and an excellent, collaborative work environment. It's paid off for them in a big way, than they continue to attract the best creative minds in the business to develop and run their digital empire. Here's the principle that even this corporate powerhouse understands: if you invest in people, they will invest in you. Genuine care is good for everyone, even in a business relationship.

PREACHING ANGLES: Community; Leadership development

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