Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ubuntu Leadership

I did a recording quite a while back on thoughts and ideas I had at that time on the possibilities of an unique leadership approach based on the Southern African social philosophu of Ubuntu. It is featured this month at the digital publication: "Leadership Talks"

Here is a short abstract of the talk:
Many recent studies have highlighted the desperate need for an indigenous, innovative, values-based leadership approach inside Africa that will mobilize a wide variety of participants around a common goal of reconstructing the South African society that has been ravaged by racial discrimination, disease prevalence, economic injustices, corruption, crime and leadership failure. This new emerging post-industrial paradigm of leadership has helped South Africans to start to think of leadership as something that is done in community instead of the act of one privileged individual. The African philosophy of Ubuntu can be described as the capacity, in African culture, to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, humanity and mutuality in the interest of building and maintaining communities of justice and mutual caring. More than a descriptor of African values, Ubuntu is a social philosophy that is deeply embedded in African culture.

Into Great Silence

I am presently in Turin, Italy having finished leading a studies abroad trip on the leadership of Paul and Francis of Assisi this last Sunday. I will blog on this wonderful experience in the next days to come.

I finally had the oppertunity to watch a recent movie by Philip Gröning on the Carthusian Order, entitled "Into Great Silence." ( It is by far one of the most moving visual experiences of my life. Building on the vision of St. Bruno who found the order (1084), the Carthusians live their convinction that only in absoluate and radical silence can one clearly hear the soft whisper of God's voice.

Here is a link to a good article on the movie:
May we learn the wisdom of stilness where the great silence of God stills our noisy heart.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vain and fickle, were we weaned on a pickle?

I grew up listening to Steve Taylor, a Christian rock singer from the 80's and 90's that mainly used satire to drive his message home. This morning I woke up with the melody line of one of his songs from his album "Squint", in my head. He entitled the song "Smug". It is a clever, little ditty on the seductive nature of pride. I am not sure why I remembered this song, I have not heard it in many years. My taste in music now runs more to the worship and contemplative side. Maybe the closing words of Malachi (4:1) reminded me of this: "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them." Taylor is a master as using satire and humor to communicate a difficult message. Here is a link to the hilarious video of "Smug", shot in Turkey in the early 90's:

Strike this little pose
Chin up in the air
Lips together tightly
Nostrils in a flare
Now look like you care
Very nice!

Practice in the mirror
Brushing back a tear
Very sincere
A promising career could begin right here at home
If you've got that smug...That smug...

Hey mama hey mama lookee what your little babies all have become
Hey mama hey mama don't it ever make you wish you'd been a nun?
Vain and fickle, were we weaned on a pickle?
Is it in our blood?
Rome is burning
We're here turning smug

Strike another pose
Power politics
Swallow their conventions
Get your power fix
We love to mud wrestle
We love to be politically Koreshed

Practice that smug
Post it like a man
One part Master Limbaugh
Two parts Madame Streisand
Now pretend you're in a band
My, my, we're looking smug

Very very very very(chorus)

All you smug-starved millions in the thick of the search
Welcome to our church
Whatcha wanna solve?
We can help you evolve from merely self-righteous
To perfectly smug
Strike the proud pose of our country club brethren
Friendly as a tomb
Fragrant as the bottom of a locker-room broom
Now what's the matter?
Hey...get off your knees...that part don't come 'til later...God will not be pleased...

Hey mama hey mama lookee what your little babies all have become...
Rome is cooking
My, we're looking smug

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back in the Blogosphere

I finished a seven part series yesterday on the prophetic message of the Old Testament Book of Malachi with the RiverLife Church from Singapore. This conference took place in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I presented this verse-by-verse study on Malachi around the prophetic theme of being recaptured by God. I experienced my own recapturing moment in the midst of these wonderfully passionate and humble Christians. I am reminded of the following prayer of Thomas Merton. I echo the sentiments in this prayer:

"Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace.
Give me humility in which alone is rest,
and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens.
And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love.
Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love,
that I may love not for the sake of merit,
not for the sake of perfection,
not for the sake of virtue,
not for the sake of sanctity,
but for You alone.
For there is only one thing that can satisfy love and reward it,
and that is You alone."

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions Press, 1961: 45.

I will leave Singapore tomorrow on my way to Rome to lead a studies abroad trip on the Leadership of the Apostle Paul and Francis of Assisi.