Category Archives: As We Move Forward

What are we focused on? How can we move forward in the hardest times?

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Staying On The Path

As We Move Forward: Staying On The Path


An essential word in describing movement from one place to another is the word path. A path may be described as a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals. A narrow walk or way: a path through a garden; a bicycle path. A route, course, or track along which something moves: the path of a hurricane. One interesting thing about a path is that people have travelled it before, probably many times before. A path is possibly, but not necessarily always the best, most direct route from one place to another.

There is an implied safety concerning a path. Because it is well-defined and has been travelled by others, we might tend to feel some level of safety and security in following the path. A number of hospitals use a system of paths to guide people from the main entrance to a desired destination. Many hospitals have been added to many times, making directions difficult to give and more difficult to follow. In addition, many people coming to a hospital may be experiencing stress due to the medical condition of themselves or the person they are coming to see. These hospitals may have a number of paths in different colors painted on the floor beginning at or near the entrance.

At the reception desk, a visitor may be told to follow the red path to the emergency room, the blue path to the intensive care unit, the white path to X-Ray or whatever path leads to the desired destination. This can guide someone through a very complicated series of turns, doors etc. they also give a person the single task of following one particular color both to reach a given destination and to return to the entrance when finished.

I have spent a lot of time in many hospitals over the years and gotten lost enough times to appreciate a path painted on the floor to appreciate them when they exist. Similarly, one of the largest cemeteries in the country is in Cincinnati, OH. They use a series of paths of various colors painted on the roads within the cemetery to guide people to the appropriate section. I have ridden with funeral directors who relied on the paths to guide them to the proper section of the cemetery. I can’t imagine how much comfort it must be to a family member looking for a particular grave to have those paths to guide them.

Not every path offers even an implied guarantee of safe passage. An iconic movie path-The Yellow Brick Road, The path offers only the hope of reaching The Emerald City. It contains several sources of danger for the people following it.

We all follow paths in various areas of our lives. Few of us strike out on totally new direction in every area of our lives all the time. As very young children, we tend to follow the path set for us by the influential people in our live. At certain points we follow the path of a teacher, mentor or someone else we admire and trust. Even when we go in new directions, we are often guided by paths first travelled by others.


These paths are important, especially when we get off them for a moment. It is important to have a path travelled by people we trust to find our way back. We are only lost when we can’t get back to the that we can trust to lead us to our destination.

As we move forward it is helpful to periodically check where we are relates the path. Especially in a crisis, it is easy to lose sight of the path that will get us to our destination. It is crucial to at least keep in sight people who are on the correct path. Better still if we remain on the correct path and can help guide others. May our journey and the choice of our path bring us to the destination we want to reach. The path is important.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

As We Move Forward: It Seemed Like A Good Idea


I have always enjoyed trying new things. As I think back on my life thus far, I am amazed at the things I have purchased, signed up for or attempted. Almost universally, every one of them seemed like a good idea at the time. I was thinking recently about why each of these things seemed so right at the time. What was I looking for in each situation? I think most times I was trying to solve a problem either for myself or someone else.

Sometimes the new opportunity was presented by some form of advertisement. I would respond to an ad and then receive a follow-up, by phone or in person. In all these situations, someone had something they wanted to sell me. The task was to make me see how what they were offering was a solution to what I was looking for and that the cost of what they were offering was a fair exchange for the solution being offered.

Of course, this is an over simplification of what took place each time I made one of these choices. Some choices seemed natural, like joining scouts or little league. It seemed as if everyone was doing things like this is it just seemed the right thing to do.

One of the things I’ve learned about my willingness to try new things is that my ideas need a grounding in reality. I have surrounded myself with people who can view my new ideas with objectivity and common sense. If these people see serious problems with what I am about to try, I take their advice seriously. Often they can bring an objectivity to a proposed situation that I cannot see on my own.

I also count on these trusted people to evaluate my behavior as I start something new. New experiences change us, at least mine have changed me. I want to be certain my new experiences are consistent with who I am. The responses of those I trust help me be certain my new activity seems consistent with my core beliefs. I would have to question any new activity that did not seem consistent with who I am.


Especially in times of crisis, it becomes difficult to objectively evaluate these changes on my own. Without the guidance of people I trust, I can easily lose sight of who I am in the midst of change. I also find it helpful to proceed cautiously and deliberately with taking on new things, particularly during a crisis. This is just me, but I would rather take extra time in adopting new things, especially during a time of crisis.

As we move forward, it is important to remember that a crisis brings factors into our lives that are both confusing and beyond our control. We should always be open to trying new things, but we should be especially careful to be cautious and to seek wise counsel. Together, we will move through this time of crisis and embrace new things.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

I Don’t Want To....

As We Move Forward: I Don’t Want To….

Child Moping

One of the first things a child learns to say is no. The non-verbal crying when we are unhappy leads to saying no when someone tells us to something we don’t want to do. Developmentally, this is an important part of finding our identity and developing our unique personality. To be perfectly fair, we learn to say no by first hearing others say it to us.

Saying ‘I don’t want to’ is a part of the process of beginning to make choices. I like most food. I honestly don’t remember saying I didn’t want to eat any particular food. Later in my life I discovered Lima beans. We never had them when I was growing up. I found out that was because my father did not care for them. The fact that he didn’t want to eat lima beans did not make me dislike them. In fact, it made me like them more when I discovered them as an adult.

One of my most important instances of saying ‘I don’t want to’ has to do with the use of alcohol and tobacco. Both were seen as rites of passage and symbols of adulthood when I was growing up. While I can’t exactly remember when I first said ‘I don’t want to’ with these two things, I have memories of times in my adult life when especially my saying ‘I don’t want to’ regarding alcohol was challenged.

I can remember several meals with friends where there was pressure to have just one glass of wine. I remember being at the fiftieth anniversary party for a couple in the church. They were offended I would not toast them with alcohol. I offered and ended up toasting with ginger ale, but I knew they did not understand. Of course there have been many times in life when I said or acted out ‘I don’t want to’ as a way of deciding on one thing over another.

When I finished my student teaching, both my supervising teacher and the college supervisor tried to talk me into a career in teaching rather than follow my plan to attend seminary. The affirmation and support from them felt good. I will admit to a moment of indecision. I applied to colleges, and got accepted by both. One of these colleges had strong memories. I had participated in several regional science fairs at that school. They actively recruited me. It was not easy saying ‘I don’t want to’ go to that college.

Many times, saying “I don’t want to” involves things that are beyond our control. Our current crisis makes us do many things that go against what we would prefer doing. As I watch people acting outside what sometimes seem like some very restrictive requirements, I can “hear” their ‘I don’t want to’ as clearly as if they were speaking the words.


As we move forward, we can start examining the times our words, and especially our actions seem to say ‘I don’t want to’. When this behavior and these words seem to be inconsistent with what we know or have been told is the right thing to do, we might take a moment to ask ourselves why we are doing or saying that.

It’s OK to say ‘I don’t want to’. What really matters is what we ultimately do in the situation, especially in times of crisis. We can also be understanding of the ‘I don’t want to’ words and behaviors of others.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: What Comes Next?

As We Move Forward: What Comes Next?


We have been having some work done on the inside of our house. It has primarily involved painting and new flooring. We have not addressed any of these issues in the seventeen years since the house was built. In that time, we have acquired many things in the house. Just how many things became very evident when we started to get estimates for the painting and the new flooring. The various people talked with told us what we would have to move for each thing we wanted to have done.

It became clear that most of our home routines would have to be totally changed during these projects. While I was considering these changes and how, once the decision was made to go ahead with the projects, the changes took over our lives to a degree, it occurred to me that this was similar to the crisis we are currently in the middle of. The big difference is we did not choose the current crisis. Of course, our home decorating decisions do not pose a risk to health or life. They do, however, provoke a certain level of anxiety, at least in me.

Even with agreement that the proposed projects are the right thing, there is a very high degree to which we have to give over a lot of control to others. I have observed that both in our current projects and the crisis we are in the midst of, changing the way we do things can be very stress provoking.

What do we do next can be a highly emotionally charged question. In our current crisis, that question is driven from an outside force which we cannot seem to understand, let alone control. Because of the magnitude of the current crisis, there are consequences, medical, financial, psychological and social that can bring out these or the worst in each of us.

One of the most significant things about our projects as well as the current crisis is that things will be different going forward. At the beginning of this crisis, most of us talked about returning to normal. Now, more and more talk centers around what normal is becoming as we move through the crisis. Our house is taking on a new look as our projects come to completion. So many of the ways we do things in our world is changing before our eyes in ways we are only slowly coming to understand.


‘What comes next?” This takes on a new sense of urgency when we realize whatever it is, it’s undoubtedly something we will have to get used to. It is a certainty we will get used to and likely come to really enjoy the changes in our home. I, for my part, am not certain how many of the changes coming out of our current crisis I am going to enjoy. As we move forward, it might be interesting to think of some times in our lives when we have had to ask, “what comes next?” Was it in excitement, like our projects, like graduation, marriage, the birth of a beloved child? Was it starting college, a new job, starting a vacation? Or was it like our present crisis?

Even in a crisis like our present one, some things that come next can be good. We can find things coming next that we can look forward to. As we move forward, let’s look at what comes next in terms of the possibilities. What is one good thing you can see coming next out of this current crisis?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Life Changing Moments

As We Move Forward: Life Changing Moments

Railroad Tracks

I remember when we got the news they were going to be closing the railroad station in my hometown. I must have been very young because this story involves my grandmother. My grandmother died when I was five years old. I remember my grandfather driving us to the train station. He bought tickets for my grandmother and me to ride the train. We rode to a nearby town. My grandfather drove to this town to pick us up. They wanted me to have the experience of riding the train from my hometown.

What makes this event life changing has to do with the love my grandparents showed that day and the way it changed the way I look at things. The railroad plays an important role in my hometown. When the town was laid out, railroad overpasses were built so traffic did not have to stop for trains coming through the town.

I have ridden a number of trains in my life, in the United States and Europe. I have ridden trains as the means to get from one place to another. Having also ridden historical and specialty trains where the ride itself was the attraction. Honestly, I can say that for almost all the trains I have ridden, I have had a momentary memory of that special train trip my grandparents provided for me so many years ago.

I have had any number of life changing experiences-events that occurred where I could mark a difference in my life and how I viewed things before and after the event. The deaths of each of my grandparents, which took place about fifteen years apart were life-changing events for me in different ways. My grandmother was the first close relative I lost. Her death helped form some of my early memories of how I dealt with. I remember as a young child going to the visitation. I remember that my parents decided not to let me go to her funeral. Instead, I stayed with some teenaged cousins. I can recall talking with them about what was going on at that time.

I was in college when my grandfather died and I participated in his service. It had been a difficult period in our church. Several people had died in a very short period of time. I recall my pastor seeming relieved when I agreed to talk about my grandfather. I remember sharing that experience during my father’s funeral. Each of those events were ones for which I saw life differently than I had before.


There have been other events that marked a divide in the way I viewed things before and after. Among them would be my graduations, the day I met the love of my life. Our wedding is another such event. We were both in college when we got married. I will never forget being on campus the first day back in class after our wedding. Suddenly, I looked around. Things just seemed different. Suddenly, I realized that the difference was that I was married. It was amazing how that changed my view of the world!

As we move forward, there are things that happen that forever change how we see things. Some are huge. Others might not seem life changing at the time. Think of a few of your life-changing events. Which mainly affect you and a few people? Which were global? How did each change your view of your world from before to after? What can we take from these events to be better able to make use of them to make our lives better?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Revenge

As We Move Forward: Revenge


Recently, I came across what I consider one of the most unpleasant words there is. That word is revenge. Revenge can be defined as, reprisal, retribution, vengeance suggest a punishment, or injury inflicted in return for one received. Revenge is the carrying out of a bitter desire to injure another for a wrong done to oneself or to those who are felt to be like oneself: to plot revenge. I am not competitive innately, so I do not even play games very often.

The times I have competed with someone, things ended when the event was over. I honestly don’t believe I have intentionally gone out of my way to seek revenge on someone else. That is why I find the whole idea unpleasant. That being said, I have been on the receiving end of revenge a few times in my life. Among the many feelings present in at these times, I am aware of feelings of sadness and disappointment.

That is because relationships are crucial to me. I highly value the ability to communicate with others and to work together to achieve goals. I know that sometimes I find myself disputing another person. Let’s describe this aspect of a relationship as having respect. Having told people for years that we do not have to like one another to have a working relationship. I say that what we have to give one another is respect. When we cannot offer respect to one another, we have to re-define our relationship.

To my way of thinking, the ultimate conclusion of realizing we cannot offer each other respect is to simply recognize that we cannot be in a relationship and simply go our separate ways. The idea of revenge takes that whole thing to a new level, and that is where I am troubled.

I’m certain we all know of situations where a contest, a relationship or even a disagreement has gone against one party and rather than just moving on, the “injured” party carries out an elaborate plan of revenge. Even if the object of the revenge deserved to be paid back, often the consequences of the revenge are worse than the “injury” that provoked the action.

At a time when our society is very polarized on so many levels, Some consequences of acts of revenge can cause harm to others, including people who have no part of the dispute. In times of high stress, it can be very difficult to simply let an action go or to respond with understanding and patience rather than with an angry plan to get revenge.


As we move forward, it might be helpful to look at any times someone might have taken revenge against us. Think about how it felt. Then, think about any time we might have been tempted to take revenge on someone else. (Of course, I know we didn’t take revenge, but it’s important to think hypothetically sometimes.) What would that have been like? Aren’t we glad we are above things like that! Think about how great life would be if everyone was like us and avoided seeking revenge.

As we move forward to whatever normal looks like, wouldn’t it be great to envision our world as a revenge-free place. That can start with you and me. Will you join me in making revenge a thing of the past, and not a part of our future?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Happily Ever After

As We Move Forward: Happily Ever After

Looking Forward

Everyone has heard many stories that begin, “Once upon a time…”. These stories begin by telling about a time that seemed good and simple in comparison to whatever is going on in the present. The story begins by describing a happy time in someone’s life. Often life in the opening segments of this story are actually bigger than real life. Sometimes the person is a prince or princess. Sometimes they are the beloved child of an adoring parent. The situation varies, but it almost always looks back to a happy time.

Then, something tragic happens. Perhaps the loving parent dies, leaving the child to be raised by a cruel stepparent. The crisis can be anything that alters people’s lives. The thing the crisis does in every case is to take away hope. I have seen a lot of loss of hope in our current crisis. So many things have been taken out of people’s control. Whole industries like travel, including the cruise industry have been stopped indefinitely. The movie theater industry was on shaky ground before this crisis. Now there are real questions as to if and when it will recover.

The hopelessness can be seen in places where lots of people gather, like schools, including plays and sporting events. Think of what it has been like for professional sports teams to play with no one in the stands. This doesn’t even talk about all the events that have been postponed indefinitely.

I understand the importance of the safety precautions like masks and social distancing. I must admit that when I go back to some place that has re-opened, the circles six feet apart and the proliferation of plexiglass everywhere make me wish for the day when all this was not a part of everyday life.

Finally, not being able to really look to a specific time when these things will go away does tend toward creating feelings of hopelessness. I see a lot to indicate that feeling is affecting many people. That fits with what happens in the middle of these stories. Many people seem lost in a sense of hopelessness. Where do we find our hope during a major crisis? How do we get to our, “happily ever after” conclusion?


As we move forward, we need to ask ourselves where we on the hopeful/hopeless scale. If we are basically hopeful, it would be good to ask ourselves what we can do to offer hope to others. Some of those things involve simply being more patient and encouraging to others. Tempers can be shorter during this crisis. Some people seem to have their emotions on a hair trigger. This crisis is a time to be as patient and understanding of others as we can possibly be. Affirming and accepting others can help them feel hopeful.

As we move forward, if we see ourselves losing hope, reach out to someone who is expressing hope in the way they live their lives. Find someone you can share your concerns with and who will guide you in seeking hope amid this crisis. We need to go through this together-not alone.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Strategies

Playing Video Games

I was recently involved in playing an online game with members of my extended family. There were three generations of people involved in playing the game. We were each on our smartphones. I cannot tell you the name of the game. I was the oldest of those playing the game. Having only a basic understanding of the rules of the game, I did my best to follow the rules as I was learning them. The most enjoyable thing for me in this whole experience was getting to spend some time interacting with people who are important to me. I will more than likely participate in this game again, but I seriously doubt I will ever accomplish more than possibly learning a few more of the rules.

When I was younger, I learned the fundamentals of the game of chess. I have played several games of chess. I even joined the chess club in junior high. Can’t recall ever winning a game of chess. I read a number of books on chess. I have opened several nice chess sets in my life. The thing that kept me from really getting good at chess is the simple fact that I am not good at forming and carrying out a strategy. I have watched enough people play chess to know that good players start each game with a definite strategy. Depending on how the game goes, they follow that strategy or choose another one to match and eventually seek to counter and overcome the moves made by their opponent.

My limited experiences playing chess made me aware for the first time that I am not good at strategies, and I do not enjoy them. I love learning, and I am interested in many things. I am just less interested in things that involve developing and carrying out strategies. This is probably why I enjoy word games and not games based on having strategies to reach your objective and gain victory over an opponent. When I was in college, many of the students enjoyed playing the military strategy game Risk. In our dorm, Risk games would often go on all weekend. I never felt a desire to play.

In my personal and professional life I am often faced with the need for strategies I am blessed to have people in my life who are good at developing strategies and carrying them out. I bring the ability to see the big picture to these situations, I sometimes forget that this ability is valuable as well. This goes to show we are dependent in our relationships. When we face a crisis, we need the ability to both see the big picture and to develop the strategies to get us through challenging situations.


As we move forward, it might be worthwhile to reflect on whether we are someone who can see and articulate a big picture view or whether we excel at developing and carrying out strategies. Chances are we are better at one than we are at the other and that we like one more than the other.

As we move forward, especially in a crisis, we should concentrate on the things we are better at and develop relationships with people who bring other strengths to the table. This is much more satisfying than trying to survive a crisis alone, especially when that calls for things that are not our particular strengths.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

To Whom Are You Accountable?

As We Move Forward: To Whom Are You Accountable?

Parent and Child

From the moment we are born, we are accountable to someone. Right after the stage where we sleep, eat and cry all the time, we are accountable to our family members for the very first things we learn. Thankfully, in most cases, the members of our family hold us accountable for developing behaviors based on love. We get rewarded for smiling and laughing. As we get a little older, we get rewarded for playing nicely with others, for learning rhymes, songs and games at the urging of those closest to us. In these and many other ways, we are held accountable by people who want to see us become valued members of society.

Not every child remains accountable to people whose goal is producing people who are a credit to society. A very famous novel by the English author Charles Dickens describes young children who are raised by criminals and trained to engage in a number of illegal activities. These children were accountable to people whose only purpose was using these children for their selfish, illegal purposes.

This type of gang activity is portrayed in many books and movies. Young people seeking acceptance are recruited into these groups, holding themselves out to represent acceptance and material gain in exchange for unquestioning loyalty and obedience. The criminal activities demanded of the gang members coupled with the threat of death for leaving the gang, gang can be called holding oneself accountable—to absolutely the wrong type of people.

There are ways that some of us hold ourselves accountable that can have entirely different-totally positive results. When someone decides to go out for sports, when they become seriously involved with music or theater, one of the primary things that happens is holding yourself accountable. It may be to teachers, coaches or some other group that gives guidance, direction and a sense of real purpose.

Sometimes we hold ourselves accountable to the wrong people. It is important to be certain the people we choose to hold ourselves accountable to share our values and beliefs. There seen to be many people today whose first response to everything is to hate. If we hold ourselves accountable to those who speak hate in every situation, it is hard to see that lining up with our values and beliefs,


Holding ourselves accountable to the right people will keep us from leaving the right path. Holding ourselves accountable to people who know what is right is essential in a world filled with so many conflicting voices. The right person can guide us back if we get sidetracked.

As we move forward, it is always a good thing to ask ourselves who we hold ourselves accountable to. Occasionally, veering off the path can happen to any of us. Staying off the path has grave consequences. To whom do you hold yourself accountable? Are they giving you the guidance and direction you need?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Knowledge Is Not Wisdom

As We Move Forward: Knowledge Is Not Wisdom


Wisdom can be defined as the soundness of an action or decision regarding the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. This is different from knowledge, which we can say is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. One of the things I have found amazing over the course of my life is how rapidly the knowledge in the world has increased over the years. I recall reading that sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century the knowledge in the world doubled every hundred years. Later in the twentieth century, I believe I read that the world’s knowledge doubled every fifty years. I have no idea how frequently the knowledge in the world doubles today, but I am certain it is not much time.

I remember when most knowledge was in printed form. Libraries were the repository for much of the world’s knowledge. I can remember many times during my years of formal education when research involved spending hours in a library, searching for written sources of the portions of the world’s knowledge that pertained to the research being called for. With knowledge in this printed form, there was a closer connection to the principles of wisdom. Not everything that was printed could be said to comply with the tests of experience, knowledge and good judgment, Our society in general seemed focused on having our knowledge conform with the principles of wisdom.

Beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century, the way we manage knowledge changed forever. Although it took place over years, looking back it seems almost an overnight phenomenon when knowledge went from printed to digital. It is common now for someone to take out a device to find the answer to anything or ask a device powered by Alexa, Siri or Google the answer to virtually any question. This phenomenon is truly amazing, but I have been thinking a lot about how this explosion of knowledge and having it instantly available lines up with wisdom. What I am actually doing in these instances is to seek wisdom to know whether what I am reading is sound or not. I’ll admit it has taken a while for me to be able to accept a concept like fake news. To me, the very notion of fake news does not even make sense. If something is fake, it cannot be news. If it is truly news, it cannot be fake.

Internet Connectivity

I read things on social media, and often my first response is to ask whether what I have read is true or not. I’m not talking here about differences of opinion with a goal of persuading someone to accept a particular argument as sound. This is deliberately stating things that are not true, holding them out as fact. That, to me, is propaganda, and the last I knew, that was a deliberate misrepresentation of facts, or knowledge.

As we move forward, it is probably more important all the time to view any knowledge through the lens of wisdom. Experience, knowledge and good judgment still seem to be good standards to use in evaluating knowledge. Is this confusing? Yes, I believe it can be. Is it difficult? Certainly. Wisdom can be hard to recognize in the sea of knowledge that is only going to increase. As we move forward in this ever-expanding sea of knowledge, let us always seek to make wisdom our guide.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.