Wednesday, May 30, 2007

In the Belly of Paradox

Here is a link to a marvelous talk given Parker Palmer on the function of paradox in the life and teaching of Thomas Merton:

It was Parker Palmer's wonderful little article on paradox, entitled "Living in the Belly of a Paradox" that helped me years ago to understand the apparent contradictions I struggle with in the toughts and writings of Merton. It is worthwhile reading:

Paradox remain central to our quest to recover authentic Christian Leadership. Palmer writes: "The way of the cross reminds us that despair and disillusionment are not dead-ends but signs of impending resurrection. Losing our illusions is painful because illusions are the stuff we live by. But God is the great iconoclast, constantly smashing these idols on which we depend. Beyond illusion lies a fuller truth which can be glimpsed only as our falsehoods die. Only as we have the faith to live fully in the midst of these painful contradictions will we experience resurrection and the transformation of our lives."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blog Absence

I am preparing for an upcoming trip to Singapore and Malaysia and thus have not been able to blog as much as I would like. I should be back in the "blog saddle" on Monday of next week.

In the mean time, here is a extract from a recent blog entry from John Michael Talbot's blog on the call to be an aunthentic witness:

Matthew 28:16-20Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize . . . teach . . . And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world! vv.19-20

Jesus ascended to the Father in heaven, but he is still with us through the church and through the Spirit, and he will remain with us until the end of the world at the second coming.The Great CommissionTo whom is the special "great commission" given in today's Gospel? It was given in a specific way to the eleven disciples that Jesus chose and lived with during his earthly ministry. The first believers of the early church looked to them to settle questions of faith and morality. These apostles made sure to pass their authority on in "apostolic succession" to prevent chaos and confusion. It was out of this that a set of writings was compiled to give us a record of the earliest apostolic teaching. Because of apostolic authority we now have our Scriptures.

Actions Speak Louder than Words
This does not mean that the general promises of the great commission are only for the leadership of the church. We see in Mark's Gospel that many aspects of the apostolic charge are given to all who "profess their faith." So, how do we fulfill this charge? Although gifts are given by the Spirit to lay people for particular tasks or ministry, actions speak louder than words, and all of us are called to live Christianity before we preach it. Only then will it be believed.Billy Graham said that his preaching a crusade would be fruitless if the local Christians were not preaching by lifestyle first. Likewise, eight-hundred years ago St. Francis said simple people convert souls by their lifestyles and their prayers, and they will obtain a heavenly reward for the conversions of souls before preachers do.

Preach the Gospel at All Times*
How we live either preaches for Christ or against him. Preaching isn't something we do alone but as a body, as a people. Do your relationships and your way of life support the preaching of the church? Who are you preaching to with your lifestyle today?

John Michael Talbot

*"Preach the gospel at all times,if necessary use words." ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work

I read a great new book on the Spirituality of work last night, by Darrell Cosden. This is a helpful avenue to explore the redemptive nature of our calling to work, in the vein of the Benedictine maxim, "Ora et Labora" (prayer and work).

Here is the back cover description of Cosden's "The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work":

Does a person’s day to day work have any ultimate value from the perspective of Eternity? Should our work be seen as a discipline through which we connect spiritually with God and others? Is ordinary work the primary way that people can participate in God's mission to make all things new? What is the heavenly good of earthly work?
In this book Darrell Cosden takes us on a spiritual and theological journey of discovery exploring these questions. Creatively, constructively, and sometimes provocatively, he shows us that the heavenly good of earthly work really makes the gospel good news for ordinary people by offering the possibility of a genuinely purpose-full Christian life.
"Surprising, substantial, thoroughly informed, clear, and readable . . . a premier resource for understanding work in Christian perspective."—William Messenger, Director of the Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Workplace, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"[O]ur understanding of the Christian message has been immeasurably enriched [by this book]. Highly recommended!"—Brian McLaren, pastor, author and activist (

"This is cutting-edge theology of the highest order. [It]... makes a vital contribution to the ongoing search for a new paradigm of the Christian mission in the twenty-first century."—Dr. David Smith, Lecturer in Urban Mission and World Christianity, International Christian College, Glasgow.

"This is an important, clearly written book."—J. Richard Middleton, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Roberts Wesleyan College

Darrell T. Cosden is Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at International Christian College, Glasgow. He is the author of A Theology of Work (Paternoster, 2005).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Book on Jesus from Benedict XVI

The long awaited book by the current pope, Benedict XVI arrived in the US yesterday. I was able to get an advanced copy a few days back. Benedict makes several really important and insightful comments that offer an orthodox and Biblical, if pastoral response to the Historical Jesus Group. It is worthwhile getting.

The book description is as follows:

“This book is… my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’” —Benedict XVI

In this bold, momentous work, the pope—in his first book written as Benedict XVI—seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent “popular” depictions and to restore Jesus’ true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus and incites us to encounter, face-to-face, the central figure of the Christian faith.

From Jesus of Nazareth… “the great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: But what has Jesus really brought, then, if he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who once gradually unveiled his countenance first to Abraham, then to Moses and the prophets, and then in the wisdom literature—the God who showed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love.”

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Future According to Jesus

I will be presenting a paper this upcoming July at the International World Future Conference ( in Minneapolis during a panel presentation on the Future according to Jesus with Jay Gary and Tsvi Bisk.

Here is a copy of the advertisement in the conference program:

Futurists often encounter religionists who hold views that undercut future-oriented behavior, including determinism, fatalism, or millennial beliefs. But as a Palestinian Jew, what was Jesus’ real view of the future? And how does that view compare with that of futurists who focus on “this world,” rather than the next? Drawing on historical Jesus research, this session identifies three driving forces of the first century, and argues that Jesus rejected the conventional and counter-futures of his time to envision a creative future for his generation. This first-century foresight will then be compared and contrasted with 21st century global scenario frameworks to consider how visionary leadership might shift society's deeply ingrained attitudes toward impending conflicts and catastrophes.

Who should attend: Any futurist who has encountered resistance to futures thinking from religionists.
What you’ll learn: Participants will learn how to ground foresight in the historical world of Jesus, and relate religious concepts to futures thinking and contingency planning.
How this knowledge can be applied: Attendees will learn how to generate “third way” scenarios that seek to transcend the clash of mainstream and side stream futures.

Corné Bekker, associate professor of leadership studies, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Tsvi Bisk, director, Center for Strategic Futurist Thinking; co-author, Futurizing the Jews: Alternative Futures for Meaningful Jewish Existence in the 21st Century and The Optimistic Jew: A Positive View of the Jewish Future (forthcoming), Jerusalem, Israel
Jay Gary, program director, M.A. in Strategic Foresight, School of Leadership Studies, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia; foresight coach, PeakFutures, Colorado Springs, Colorado

key words: religion, futures methods, globalization, catastrophes

Monday, May 07, 2007

Leadership and Sin

I got word today that both my proposals for the International Leadership Association's (ILA) International Conference have been accepted. The conference will take place in Vancouver, Canada during November of this year. I am really pleased and grateful for this acceptance since these proposals reflect some of my thinking and writing that took place after my trip to India earlier this year. I came back from the conference in Spirituality and Organizational Leadership at the University of Delhi with a renewed sense of the importance to explore sin in Leadership and the promise of moral regeneration that the Gospel of Jesus offers to leaders.

Here follows the abbreviated abstracts of my presentations:

Presentation 1: Leadership Sins: Towards an understanding of Leadership Failure.
Moral developments during the advent of Christian-Judaic Monastic traditions provided early faith communities and organizations with a diagnostic matrix to understand, identify and remedy moral failure. Applying insights drawn from a philosophical and ontological exploration of sin to contemporary leadership contexts provides leadership scholar and practitioners with a conceptual base to locate and identify the contributing factors of moral failure in leadership and in doing so to strategically construct programs and environments that will facilitate the formation of moral leadership in organizations. This presentation aims to illustrate how a critical examination of our historical and philosophical roots can assist in addressing the myriad problems and implications of leadership failure.

Presentation 2: Leading from the Desert: The Christian Monastery as a Spiritual Organization.
Christian Monasticism has its origin in the organizational and societal crisis of the Church in the fourth century of the Common Era. The Desert Fathers and Mothers Movements of this time understood that societal and organizational development is only possible once personal inner transformation has taken place. In a theological sense they followed the call of the Spirit into the Egyptian and Palestinian deserts in an attempt to imitate Jesus as he faced certain leadership temptations in preparation for societal service. These Desert Fathers and Mothers constructed a diagnostic matrix in their quest to describe an ontology of leadership sin and in doing so provided the early Christian Communities with a conceptual framework for personal and organizational renewal and transformation. The word monk from this time came from the Greek word "monos" which at the same time means "one/alone" and "united". Thus, a leader could only be united with the followers in t he community/organization once he/she was able to be healthily alone, interiorly integrated and transformed. This presentation builds on the ancient wisdom of the beginnings of Christian monasticism and illustrates the principles of building healthy and effective spiritually-based organizations led by integrated and grounded leaders.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Program for Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Roundtable

I have been busy with several writing projects these last few weeks and so have not been able to blog as regularly as I wish. I am also preparing for the inaugural Research Roundtable for Biblical Perspectives tomorrow. I am excited about the topics and speakers for tomorrow and am looking forward to the opportunity to extend our knowledge and interest in this topic.

The following papers will be presented:

Theme A: Christian Leadership as a Counter-Cultural Option
Corné Bekker: “The Philippians Hymn (2:5-11) as an early, mimetic Christological model of Christian Leadership.”
Matthew Gordley: “Emperor Worship and Colossians: How Paul’s Portrayal of Christ Undermines the Claims of Caesar.”
Bramwell Osula: “Roots, Rock, Rebel: Exploring Leadership as Resistance.”

Theme B: New Testament Perspectives on Leadership Theories and Models
Jackie Faulhaber: “Virtue Development and Authentic Transformational Leadership: A Social-Cultural Analysis of 2 Peter 1:1-11.”
Brian Easley: “The Source of Transformation: Modifying Patterson’s and Winston’s Servant Leadership Model.”
Laurie McCabe: “Defining Jesus as an Agent of Change and Guidance: An Inner Textual Analysis of John 21.”

Theme C: New Testament Perspectives on Leadership Mentoring
Mike Oney: “II Timothy: Mentoring an Experiential Learner.”
Orlando Rivera: “Paul’s Mentor: Barnabas’ Seminal Role in Paul’s Early Apostolic Career.”

Theme D: New Testament Perspectives on Values and Ethics in Leadership
Jay Gary: “What Would Jesus Lead? Identity Theft, Leadership Evolution, and Open Systems.”
Gray Keller: “Infusing Values Triangularly: An Exegetical Analysis of I Timothy 6:5b-11.”

Theme E: New Testament Perspectives of Foresight and Strategic Leadership
Jay Gary: “The Future According to Jesus: Exploring a First-Century Galilean Model of Foresight.”

I will place most of these papers online in the next few weeks.