Peter Volkofsky | Author & Life Coach

Peter Volkofsky is an author, spoken word poet and life coach. In 2017, Peter published his thriller Mia's Magic Wand. In 2015 he published Beautiful Quest as an Ark House imprint. Peter has been married to his wife Penelope for thirty-three years and together they have reared seven children.

Catalytic (cat•a•lyt•ic)

(adj.) a process that precipitates an event

The Vision

Individuals and teams reaching their goals.

PETE'S BLOG

2 Comments2 Minutes

‘What Cannot Be Measured Does Not Exist’*

In session 4 (The Kingdom and Wholeness) of our upcoming Imaginative Mission Intensive at Burrabadine we will look at the way our society got itself into a nasty pickle by asserting that there is only one way of knowing: what NT Wright calls the 'privileged position given to science and its "test-tube epistemology**"'. It was because of this assumption that the West found itself trying to manage a 'split' personality where it talked of faithfulness and truth in the realm of work and science (downstairs) but it was 'every man for himself' in the realm of values (upstairs). As a result we were forced down the road of cold pragmatism where we now live—the no-man's-land between 'fact': what can be measured, and 'value': what 'cannot be measured' and therefore by implication 'does not exist'. This is what thinkers are now describing as a crisis of meaning, or, as another writer has described it, 'a crisis of integrity.'1 'Most people function as modernists and post-modernists, depending on the context ... they live fragmented lives ... the opposition between facts and values has become the main obstacle to living as whole persons with a consistent, coherent philosophy of life.'2 It explains why you get 'that look' when you begin to talk of meaning, faithfulness and love in certain contexts—your hearer is nervous because you're talking of what is not supposed to exist.

1. Pearcey N. Saving Leonardo p.44 B&H Publishing 2010

2. Ibid p.29

* unsure of the source for this quote, which sums up the Logical Positivism of Dawkins & co. that was discredited long ago by another—then—atheist philosopher, Anthony Flew

** epistemology is the study of the justification of belief

 

0 Comments5 Minutes

Lady Wisdom in Action

Lady Wisdom in Action

John Newton was a wild man who loved a drink and a bit of fun and made a living out of trading slaves across the ocean. One night on the Atlantic, as a violent storm began to tear his ship apart, John joked with a mate that soon they would be in harbour and laughing about it over a drink. But with tears streaming down his face, his mate replied, 'No John—this time we're finished!' His words shook John but he refused to give in to fear. Then, later that night (when it was his turn at the helm), the waves were so big that he had to tie himself to the wheel in order to avoid being washed overboard.

Alone on the deck and drenched to the skin but still proud and defiant, he wrestled the wheel helplessly: waves crashed, the briny water stung his eyes, sails ripped and then finally—with an almighty crack!—a mast snapped. And in the depths of his soul, John simply could not escape the feeling that this was all getting very personal: that he wasn't just fighting against waves and wind, he was fighting against God himself and that the great Elohim was just getting started.

The pride and fierce complacency in his heart began to feel ludicrous, and, as lightning stabbed the sky, he started to reflect on his life. He thought of his mother and the things she had taught him, especially one of her favourite passages from the book of Proverbs, which he had memorised and then forgotten until this moment—words that came to him as if spoken directly from heaven, and (appropriately) the speaker was a woman.

'Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.
At the town centre she makes her speech.
In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand.
At the busiest corner she calls out:

“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance?
Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism?
Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?
About face! I can revise your life.
Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you;
I’m ready to tell you all I know.
As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear;
I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me.

“Since you laugh at my counsel
and make a joke of my advice,
How can I take you seriously?
I’ll turn the tables and joke about your troubles!
What if the roof falls in,
and your whole life goes to pieces?
What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing
to show for your life but rubble and ashes?
You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect
an answer.
No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me.

“Because you hated Knowledge
and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God,
Because you wouldn’t take my advice
and brushed aside all my offers to train you,
Well, you’ve made your bed—now lie in it;
you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it?
Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots?
Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.
First pay attention to me, and then relax.
Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”*

John broke down and surrendered to Lady Wisdom and to God, and came home to the lover of his soul. Thus began his long journey towards becoming a minister, an important player in the abolition of the slave trade, and the author of that famous hymn Amazing Grace.

*(Proverbs 1: 20 -33   -  The Message)

+ picture from Church of England Reader

0 Comments3 Minutes

Tell The Real Story

If you think that fantasy has no place in your world, think again. It's a fact that every person lives two lives: an inner one and an outer one. You could even say that—like a work of fiction—each of us has a plot (what our story is about) and a theme (what our story is really about*). And this is where it's worth exploring the meaning of that word 'fantasy'. Its primary meaning is, 'something that has no basis in reality' but its secondary meaning is, 'a musical composition, free in form, typically involving variation on an existing work or the imaginative representation of a situation or story.'

Have you ever been caught off-guard and moved to tears by a film or a song that caused you to think, 'It's as if someone's been reading my mail'? That's because it didn't just speak of your plot— the 'got born, went to school, got a job story'—which you talk and joke about all the time, it touched on your theme: your 'musical composition' as it were.

Whether we like it or not, each of us has one of these 'theme stories' happening inside us in much the same way as the characters in Les Miserable, Lilith1 or Pilgrim's Progress2. And those of us who read these stories do so because we are taken into a series of individual moments and meetings where there might be a fight, a discussion, a piece of music; the giving of a gift, a wound or a magic drink. How like real life and yet how infrequently we talk or even write about such moments and meetings. Unless of course a moment of open-ness gives us permission to do so.

These moments may be at a birth, a wedding or a wonderful restoration of a friendship, but they might also be at some tragedy when we realise we should have opened our mouth years ago, but now it's too late. When we look closely at the cause of our procrastination, a contest between fear and love is always at the root of it: intimidating fear usually wins out and we simply won't risk letting our music out.

But why not? The longer you allow this sad game to go on the the more those around you will imagine that your real story is your plot. As in, the 'got born, went to school, got a job,' story, and so it is that your children, your wife and your friends fall for the lie that what really matters to you is the 'big machinery of events and programs' rather than that sweet secret story of hope/despair, love/hate, forgiveness/resentment': the music and the theme that is you.

1George MacDonald
2John Bunyan
* taken from a comment by Sally Odgers

0 Comments2 Minutes

‘Get Up And Go’

 

Anne Rice says of her journey back to faith: ‘In seeking to know everything, I’d been, all of my life, missing the entire point.’ She tells of a time when, having been an atheist for thirty eight years and written a whole lot of popular novels about vampires and witches, she was sitting in her house and having a conversation with herself.

You will have to read her book* yourself to see her original, at-length version of this conversation, which I have summarised in the following way: ‘You know what Anne. A transaction is taking place. On the one hand you have a long list of complaints about the God-world and all the problems with wars, brutality, manipulation—all these unanswered questions, all very mature, adult and supposedly humble. But on the other hand there’s this list of so-called ‘subjective and therefore invalid’ experiences and memories from works of art, music, icons and statues—all very child-like and supposedly naive, where you have felt God saying, “I love you Anne.” And you are about to permanently trade this for that bag of supposedly sensible and responsible complaints and un- answered questions.’

As she thought about all this she became uneasy about the fact that the respect of her educated and skeptical colleagues was now emerging as a major reason for her procrastination and her unwillingness to act. Then she says: ‘I knew the German church of my childhood was perhaps six blocks away from where I was sitting. And perhaps I’d remembered my mother’s words of decades ago: “He is on that altar. Get up and go.” ... ‘I didn’t care about the framing of the doctrine, I cared about him. And he was calling me back through his Presence on the altar. He might have used the falling rain, he might have used Vivaldi ... but no, he used the doctrine of the Real Presence.’

 

* Called Out Of Darkness

0 Comments2 Minutes

Noise, Colour, Tang

Noise, Colour, Tang (by Aidan Volkofsky)

I was reflecting this morning on how—as Brueggemann points out—our language of 'interpreting, explaining & understanding' events in history betrays the assumption that 'inexplicable and incoherent' equals 'ridiculous or 'non-existent,' which brought to mind a picture of a trained prose writer who has had no training or experience with poetry, attempting to read and commentate upon poetry. The cheek of it is immediately obvious but what would be more galling would be the publication of a book in which they dismissed the writings of a particular poet as quaint nonsense. But what if this particular poet was 'the voice' of a marginalised sector in society who were being brutalised by the dominant power and the prose writer was employed by that power? The custodians of reason have a lot to answer for when they uncritically ally themselves with the dominant power in a society.21

This is particularly tragic when for centuries they have fuddled masses of people into an oblivion of cold-hearted faith that’s nothing more than an attempt at control. All appetite for life is then lost and the so-called 'body of the faithful' is lost, proclaiming itself as ‘the saved’, when in fact it has merely ‘saved’ itself from life and even perhaps from hearing the disturbing voice of the brutalised. Someone has said, “Thou must be true thyself, if thou the truth would teach, Thy soul must overflow if thou another’s soul would reach.”

This type of reasonable insanity is the result of a long term effort to not 'let be' the light inside you that's held in a prison of pride, fear and misguided devotion to a god of the status quo and of meek and mild self-abasement, so loved by imams, bishops, gurus and lamas the world over. When the violation can no longer be endured, their followers discover that what they had once revered as piety, turns out to be nothing more than a mean-spirited sulk against the noise, colour and tang of life.

21Brueggemann W. Abiding Astonishment p. 56 1991 John Knox