Posts Tagged With: growth

Falling Upward

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr is the best book I have read in a decade, and I read a lot of books!   Richard Rohr spoke to me on every page of this short volume. I had to read it slowly, only four or five pages a day. Any more would have been too much to digest. I write in my books. I underline what I like. I place a star beside what I really like. I talk back in the margins when I disagree. I am glad to get two or three outstanding insights out of any book I read. In Falling Upward, I suppose I have 50 or more stars, which mean “Yes!” and “Amen!” Examples:

“No Pope, Bible quote, psychological technique, religious formula, book or guru can do your journey for you.”

“Resistance to change is so common, in fact, that it is almost what we expect from religious people, who tend to love the past more than the future or the present.”

“When you are in the first half of life, you cannot see any kind of failing or dying as even possible, much less as necessary or good.”

Rohr, who is a Franciscan priest, has had a similar pilgrimage, it seems to me, within Roman Catholic circles, as I’ve had within Baptist circles. As a youngster, he bought the whole package, believing every word his religion taught him, as I did. But adult realities and the shibboleths of childhood did not always fit together easily. He introduced me to the image of the “loyal soldier.” According to Rohr, when the Japanese military returned home after World War II, they were given permission, in a ceremony, to leave their soldiering behind. They had been loyal soldiers, and that had been good for their country during that period in their lives. Now their country needed them to move forward to the next step, to be farmers and merchants and craftsmen. Rohr contends that adult Christians need to be given permission to move toward mature faith, to fall upward, to be able to think for themselves and not merely to follow someone else’s orders as if they were still teenagers.

Another phrase of Rohr’s which I found helpful is “double belonger.” As teens and young adults, we work out our identities, so we claim certain tribes (I am a white, heterosexual, male evangelical Baptist Christian from South Carolina who is a Clemson graduate and who was a Young Republican in college. Other people are in different tribes. They are Hispanic or Catholic or pull for Georgia Tech or whatever…) As young adults, those categories are very important. As mature Christians, Rohr and I find them less and less valuable. We can be double-belongers! I am not required to choose sides. I can value insights from Republicans and Democrats. I would like for some of our politicians to read Rohr’s book. Being stuck in the world of either/or is not the role of a Christian. Do you really think God is either/or? Do you think God is limited to loving Baptists or Catholics, Christians or Jews or Muslims, conservatives or liberals? Teens can be forgiven such foolishness. Such bad theology from sixty-something’s is less understandable.

More quotations:

“You learn how to recover from falling by falling!”

“The only real biblical promise is that unconditional love will have the last word!”

“Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Quotations | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments


We didn’t talk so much about mentors when I was growing up through my teens, twenties and thirties. I like that term and I also like the word “elders.” Every culture, from the Navajo to the Kurds had and has elders, men and women who invest time and energy in intentionally training, educating, demonstrating, forming, and mentoring those who are younger how to grow older. Here is my list of friends, more or less chronologically, who gave me knowledge of what it means to mature, to grow up. Some of these souls are no longer with us, and I don’t want to lose any more before giving a public Shout Out to…

Julian Bugg

Jerry and Jane Howington

Larry Abernathy

Herman McGee

Fuzzy Thompson

Charlie Shedd

Bob Stevens

Vernon Grounds

Horace Hammett

Henlee Barnette

Glen Stassen

Paul Carlson

Bob Mulkey

Howard McClain

Shelden Timmerman

Bill Bishop

Beth McConnell

Loretta Gunter

Ted Godfrey

Joe Darby

Randy Wright

I have great gratitude and Thanksgiving to those who influenced me immeasurably as a young adult and to those who are still making a difference in my life.

Parents Carlton and Allene Aldridge, wife Sally Craig Aldridge, daughters Jenna and Julie, as family, have all taught me more than words can say and are in a league of their own.

Thank you.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Lists/Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

At one time in my life, I believed each of these statements…


  1. Dogs were males and cats were females.
  2. Pregnant women had eaten a watermelon seed, and the watermelon was growing inside them.
  3. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were real.
  4. My mom and dad were better Christians than our pastor and his wife because my mom and dad only had two kids which indicated they had had sex (whatever that meant) twice, and the pastor had four children which showed they had had sex four times.
  5. Saying the word “pregnant” was wrong. If the “condition” required a word, “expecting” was preferred.
  6. As a young entrepreneur, I thought I could sell two pieces of penny bubble gum for 3 cents. I learned I was wrong when I sat in front of our house on a busy street all day long and sold none.
  7. All Russians were bad.
  8. All Americans were good.
  9. Black people were somehow inferior to white people.
  10. You can trust people to do what they say they will do.
  11. Having an “official” forum (radio, television, pulpit or print media) suggests you must be right. People would say, “I heard it on the radio. It must be true.”
  12. North Augusta, South Carolina, was the capital of the world, and its geographical center.
  13. Schoolteachers do not curse.
  14. All families have a mother and a daddy.
  15. Powerful and important people (especially those in the church, the school, politics and the military) are good and are right and are to be respected and obeyed.
  16. People who drink alcohol are immoral, wicked people.
  17. Marriages should forever be full of romance and continuously happy. If married people argued, something was wrong with the marriage.
  18. My religious heritage provided the only right way to be in good standing with God.
  19. Foreigners or Immigrants who have difficulty with the English language are not as smart as “normal” people without accents.       (It did not occur to me, until embarrassingly late in my life, that the person who was struggling with English was at least bi-lingual—many immigrants speak or understand three or four languages—and I was the dolt with limited linguistic skills.)

(From Chapter 9 in my book, Overcoming Adolescence)

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Father’s Toast at His Daughter’s Wedding (by Marion Aldridge)

270560_10100099443636078_3746452_n Julie and Tom come from parents and families that have been good examples to them for almost three decades. I am grateful that their success in marriage does not depend on one of us giving a brilliant toast on this wedding night that will give them the keys to success. They already possess those keys. Now it is time for them to live out what they already know. Pray for love, but not for perfection. Learn to live with failure, for it will come, and then pray for grace to move on and let go. Pray for plenty of time to walk through life together, and a bit of time for independence. Enjoy beauty. Value truth. Work hard. Take naps. Listen to one another. Listen. Listen. Treat one another as adults. Good marriages need two strong and competent partners. Be responsible. Be smart. Be kind. Be patient. Forgive. Hang in there. Keep on keeping on. Show up. Be patient for the right reasons and be impatient for the right reasons. Be happy. Eat well. Sleep well. Keep growing.

Categories: Diet, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Available for Workshops, Retreats, Banquets, Sermons– Marion D. Aldridge

Close up Hilton Head photo MDA

Marion Aldridge …

Wisdom, humor, Exuberance, Faith…

“…is like your favorite old pair of slippers… honest introspection with himself and his world. His light has a unique brightness.” Craig Williamson, Pastor

“…combines wisdom, wit, and insight.’ Mark Tidsworth, President, Pinnacle Leadership Associates

Available for Workshops, Retreats, Banquets, Sermons
Marion D. Aldridge

Marion D. Aldridge is a popular preacher, public speaker, workshop leader and award-winning writer. Dr. Aldridge is author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on topics including religion, sports, travel, humor and personal growth.
In workshops, sermons and retreats, Dr. Aldridge’s primary life mission has been to help others “get unstuck.” Overcoming Adolescence is a memoir and self-help book about his own pilgrimage:

Marion Aldridge …

“… is my ‘go to man’ when I need someone to speak on a specific issue.” James Goudelock, Chaplain and Pastor

“… both cheerleader and prophet… keen insight into life.” Jay Kieve, Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of SC

“… will challenge, delight, inspire, and enrich.” Randy Wright, Chaplain

“… speaks and writes with deep conviction… a love of God and creation.” Jim Catoe

“… authentic voice… a message of personal growth. If he has something to say, I always listen. Brenda Kneece, Ecumenical Minister

“… sees with eyes wide open, and helps us all to see more clearly…unique and unassuming… depth and clarity.” Tony Vincent, Associate Minister

“… loves life! … grace and joy… laughter and honest reflection. In other words, his love of life is contagious!” Beth McConnell, Pastor

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Humor, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Graces I Have Experienced when Grieving


The only thing this blog post has to do with travel is that I am going to San Antonio, Texas, in September to make a presentation about “Overcoming Grief” at Lackland Air Force Base  I asked Facebook friends to add to a short list I had created about Graces I experienced after the deaths of my Mother, my Dad and my friends Fuzzy and Dabber.  I suppose 100 people responded with additions.  Here is the new list, and a picture of my friend Fuzzy, whom we miss every day.  


The Grace of Activity

The Grace of Appropriate Words

The Grace of Balance

The Grace of Challenge

The Grace of Charity

The Grace of Clarity

The Grace of Closure

The Grace of Family

The Grace of Flowers

The Grace of Food

The Grace of Forgiveness

The Grace of Friends

The Grace of Grace

The Grace of Gratitude

The Grace of Growth

The Grace of Housekeeping

The Grace of Hugs

The Grace of Humor and Laughter

The Grace of Kindness

The Grace of Limits

The Grace of Love

The Grace of Memories and Stories

The Grace of Music

The Grace of Photographs

The Grace of Prayer

The Grace of Presence

The Grace of Receiving Love

The Grace of Release from Obligation

The Grace of Relief

The Grace of Reunion

The Grace of Scripture

The Grace of Seeing Suffering End

The Grace of Sharing

The Grace of Silence

The Grace of Sleep

The Grace of Sacrifice

The Grace of Tears

The Grace of Time

The Grace of a Glass of Wine

The Grace of a New Normal

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

I believe in travel…


Born in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in South Carolina, I love the part of the world in which I have lived my entire life.  Every spring I marvel at the glory of the magnificent azaleas, dogwoods and jasmine.  Within a few miles of the house where I live now are enough activities and sites to keep me fascinated for a lifetime. 

I cheer at Saturday afternoon football games with 80,000 other fans in a college football stadium.  I watch the best golfers in the world as they play Amen Corner at the Augusta National.  I have worshiped in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sunday morning, where a baby being dedicated was lifted up as Kunte Kinte was in Roots, with the pastor saying in a voice that sounded like God, “In this place, we know what a difference one child can make!”  I have rafted down the Chatooga River which divides Georgia and South Carolina.  I have watched the loggerhead hatchlings return to the Atlantic Ocean when I was walking early one morning on Folly Beach, on the coast of South Carolina.  I have eaten mustard-based, ketchup-based and vinegar-based barbeque, all of them local.  I love them all.  I cherish my roots. 

But the point of roots is to sustain a living thriving growing plant.

St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 

I was curious about those other pages, those other foods, those other flowers, other religions, even other sports.  Was my brain or my soul so small that I wanted the rest of my life to be limited only to experiences identical to or similar to those I had already enjoyed?  Intellectually, I knew this was a Big World, but how Big is it, really?  How Big could I be? 

About 25 years ago I set the goal of taking one good trip a year.  I left the definition of “good trip” wide open, but somehow, since then, on a middle class salary and budget, I have kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland, snorkeled off the coast of Puerto Rico, prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, milked cows on a farm in Canada, walked through the rice fields of Bali, watched a bull fight in Spain, climbed Mayan and Incan ruins, witnessed a moon bow on the Isle of Iona (off the coast of Scotland), and celebrated my wife’s 40th birthday in Paris.  I have crawled through deep caves in Kentucky and lived with Gypsies in Romania.  I have been sprinkled reverently by my hosts in Thailand during their Songkran festival.  I have wept at the remains of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp outside of Weimar, Germany.  I have witnessed a pride of nine lions coming out of the bush at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya.  I have participated in a wedding in the Arab suburbs of Brussels, Belgium.

Mohammed said, “Don’t tell me how educated you are.  Tell me how much you traveled.”

Travel has allowed me to spend time with my wife, with each of my two daughters, with my sons-in –law, with my grandson and with friends. 

True traveling is not about frequent flyer miles.  It is not even about tourism.   Bill Bryson laments people who pay “large sums to be transported to some distant place and then shielded from it.”

“Serendipity” is a word first used by Horace Walpole in 1754.  The concept comes from the tales of Three Princes of Serendip (published in 1557).  These three princes set out on various quests, but engaged in unanticipated escapades along the way, adventures that were completely unexpected.  Travelers encounter the unforeseen and are stretched, which is another word for growth.  My physical body stopped getting taller when I was a young adult, but traveling has kept my mind and my spirit developing, expanding, and maturing.

I am a different person because I have traveled.  I see differently.  I listen more attentively.  My taste buds and my sense of smell have developed.  My mind is more elastic and my spirit has been nurtured. 

I believe in travel.


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Holiday, Quotations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tomorrow’s Guest Blog will be written by my friend, Holli Emore, who is a Pagan.

ImageBy Pagan, I don’t mean, as I once did when I used the word, someone who is not a Christian and who misbehaves a lot.  Though Holli grew up as a Christian, she nowadays identifies her faith as Paganism, and as far as I know, she doesn’t misbehave any more than the rest of us.  I like Holli, who is very good writer, and am proud to call her a friend.


For most of my adult life, I have been an Ecumenical sort of person.  Ecumenism is a semi-technical word describing conversation and interaction among those within the household of the Christian faith.  So Baptists, Quakers, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Pentecostals, Methodists and Presbyterians are all Trinitarian Christian denominations.  When we worship together, that is called Ecumenical worship.


Interfaith conversations have always stretched me.  Hindus believe in many gods.  Unitarians believe, well, I’m not sure yet what they believe.  Jews and Muslims believe in One God, and say that Christians believe in Three Gods.  Mormons believe a lot of what Christians believe, then add on to their faith system an even Newer Testament, the Book of Mormon.  There are a lot of different faith systems in our world.  They can be overwhelming and confusing.


My purpose, in this blog, is not to explain other faith systems.  In fact, you could read Holli’s blog tomorrow and not have a clue she is a Pagan.  She chose to write about the Hmong people in North Carolina. 


But I wanted to say, up front and without apology, that my life the past forty years has become more and more inclusive about other people and their faith.  I no longer feel the need to be a guardian of orthodoxy.  I know what I believe, but I have learned to listen to other people.  Everybody I know, including me, is wrong is some of what they believe and what they do.  Lifelong growth is my goal. Learning from people with different life experiences is vital.


Holli Emore can teach me a lot.  So, thanks to Holli for her friendship and for adding to the variety and color of our lives.  Aren’t you glad we don’t all look alike and think alike?


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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