Monday, October 27, 2008

More Than Money - BK Life Book by Mark Albion

Interesting comments by Mark Albion. This could be a good foundation to explore the values of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in light of this.

A Couple of New Books

Two recent secular books have served to confirm my growing persuasion that there is a deep and wide shift occurring in the way that the world thinks about leadership. In the words of Jean Lipmen-Blumen: “…we finally begun to reexamine more critically our traditional concept of leadership. It is based on an outmoded ego ideal glorifying the competitive, combative, controlling, creative, aggressive, self-reliant individualists”. They are both worthwhile reads (the descriptions on each are from the dust covers of the books):

"Community: The Structure of Belonging" by Peter Block Modern society is characterized by isolation and a weakened social fabric. The various sectors of our communities—businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government—work in parallel, not in concert. They exist in their own worlds as do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together.

We know what healthy communities look like—there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation. How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.

"My intent" he writes, "is provide structural ways to create the experience of belonging, not just in those places where people come to just be together socially, but especially in places where we least expect it. This includes those places where people come together to get something done. These are our meetings, dialogues, conferences, planning processes––all those occasions where we gather to reflect on and decide the kind of future we want for ourselves."

Citizens have the power to change the community story and bring a new context into being. Block shows us how we can overcome isolation and anxiety and create communities alive with energy and possibility. This book is written to support those who care for the well being of their communities. It is for anyone who wants to be part of an organization, neighborhood, city, or country that works for all, and who have the faith and the energy to create such a place.

"More than Money" by Mark Albion

What are you going to do with your lucky lottery ticket? That’s a question every MBA faces. A lot of time and money has been invested in you, and once you graduate you’re supposed to cash that ticket in for as much money and status as you can. Your parents and peers expect it. And you may feel that there’s really no other choice. You can’t risk wasting that expensive education. It’s the safe thing to do. Isn’t it?Not necessarily.

Mark Albion doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but his unique perspective can help you find yours. There are other ways to look at potential risks and rewards, even when you have thousands of dollars of student loans to pay back. Money is important but it’s not the key to fulfillment. The “safe” choice, the most monetarily rewarding one, can carry enormous psychological and spiritual pain.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Sometimes money costs too much.”In More Than Money, Albion redefines the typical way the risk/reward equation is written, using his own life story and those of the many entrepreneurs, executives and MBAs he’s met as both cautionary and inspirational tales. He introduces a framework of four crucial questions to consider when thinking about your career choices, as well as “lifelines," principles that can help you answer these questions and guide you to construct your personal, strategic destiny plan.

A consciousness-raising book as well as a career guide, More Than Money encourages MBA students to give themselves permission to be who they really want to be and find their path of service. For, as Albion says, in the end “we won't remember you for the size of your wallet as much as the size of your heart.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two New Monographs on Aspects of Pauline Leadership

I recently reviewed two new monographs on aspects of Pauline Leadership for Religious Studies Review. They are both worthwhile reads and go along way to providing a base for our continued quest to Biblically redefine Christian Leadership. Here are two short excerpts from my reviews:

Paul and Conflict Resolution: An Exegetical Study of Paul's Apostolic Paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9. By Robinson Butarbutar. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. xviii + 275. Paper, $33.99, ISBN 978-1-84227-315-9.

Little scholarly attention has been given to conflict resolution models used in First-Century Mediterranean Christian communities. Butarbutar’s monograph bridges this gap in the literature and provides an erudite foundational work on this topic by examining Paul's apostolic paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9 through a detailed literary and historical exegesis of this pericope. This study defines and locates the argumentative rhetoric of Paul in the larger scope of Paul's unified arguments in 1 Corinthians 8-10, that sought to mediate in the cultural disputes in the Corinthian Christian communities. Butarbutar demonstrates that the conflict resolution model evident in this text is further evident in Paul's rhetoric of refusing to accept financial support from his audience. The monographs concludes by comparing and contrasting this Pauline conflict resolution model with contemporary approaches in Christian communities and argues for the serious reconsideration of Paul’s approach to conflict.

Saint Paul as Spiritual Director: An Analysis of the Concept of the Imitation of Paul with Implications and Applications to the Practice of Spiritual Direction. By Victor A. Copan. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. 342. Paper, $40.00, ISBN 978-1-55635-661-2.

Recent scholarly and popular-press descriptions of spiritual direction have widely disagreed on the nature, theories and applications of this age-old ministry of spiritual formation. It has been become evident to scholars and practitioners alike that a return to a serious re-examination of the Biblical roots of spiritual direction is what is needed. Cohan’s well-written and critical monograph seeks to provide a first step in a contemporary re-evaluation of the Apostle Paul’s approach to spiritual direction and formation. This study uses a case study approach exploring the social, cultural and spiritual functions of Paul as spiritual director in the various Christian communities that he founded along the Mediterranean Sea. Emphasis is placed in this study on Paul’s understanding, aims and praxis of spiritually forming his follower. Cohan concludes by drawing parallels to contemporary approaches of spiritual direction.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Edition for Inner Resources for Leaders

The new edition of Inner Resources for Leaders was released yesterday. I contributed a popular-press article on St. Benedict's rule on Leadership humility: