Want to apply for the Futuristguy’s Field Guide #1 book Review Team? Here are the details.

Thanks for your interest in my “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” training series, and applying to be a Reviewer for Field Guide #1! I’ve been developing this curriculum since 2007, and am excited – and relieved – that it is about to launch!

This article includes the application form plus background on the project, groups I believe will benefit from it, and expectations for Review Team members. There is a lot of detail here for those who want it, and for one very important reason:

Because this Field Guide is a combination book/workbook of about 100,000 words – THAT’S OVER 50% LONGER than the usual trade paperback these days – I am providing extensive information up front so you can better consider whether this commitment is for you or not.

HOW TO APPLY TO REVIEW FIELD GUIDE #1, AND TIMELINE

The following sections over the project and expectations. To apply for the Review Team, please read them and submit the required information in the Application Form. The Application Form is at the bottom of this page. Here’s the projected timeline:

** Applications are open through August 1, 2019.

** Application review group will make final decisions and contact those selected by August 10.

** I ask that your review be submitted by October 1 – about 6 weeks – but if you need until October 15, that’s okay.

** The book will be finalized and in production as soon as possible after October 1.

SERIES OVERVIEW

I’ve worked for and volunteered with non-profits since 1972. Most of these were great experiences! But I’ve also ended up in business, non-profit, and team situations that turned out toxic. I’ve come to believe that, to accomplish the good, we must be aware of the bad. I’ve written the “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” training series to capture what I’ve learned from these experiences, both the healthy and the sickly.

The series covers essential concept frameworks, practitioner skills, practical learning exercises, and impact evaluation metrics needed for creating common ground for the common good – for promoting robust organizations and intervening in and preventing toxic ones. I designed the series to equip participants in a wide range of start-ups and organizational types. These include entities like community development projects, faith-based ministries, for-benefit businesses, and non-profit agencies.

The project currently consists of:

(1) a four-volume Field Guide training series, with

(2) a companion website with resources and visual bibliography for each chapter, and

(3) online case studies with guides to practice applying the principles.

I’ve sequenced the material to create two Courses, the first two volumes on how to identify and deal with toxic systems and malignant people in them, the second two on how to start up or transition to an organization that embodies a paradigm that is safer from abuse and therefore more sustainable as we develop teams, projects, and partnerships.

ABOUT FIELD GUIDES #1 AND #2

More specifically, Field Guide #1 covers what systems are made of, what systemic abuse is, how to identify malignant leaders and sick systems, and issues of responsibility and accountability. This is the first of two volumes on Deconstructing and Dealing With Toxic Systems.

Field Guide #2 is due out in 2020. It is on detoxification, and covers tactics and traumas of abuse, how survivors recover from them, forms of advocacy to support survivors, forms of activism to challenge abusive systems, rehabilitation for abusive individuals who choose to change, and remediation (repair work) for organizations where abusive practices have become institutionalized.

NOTE: Those on the Review Team for Field Guide #1 will be given priority consideration if they are interested in being first readers/reviewers on Field Guide #2, which is tentatively due out in late 2020.

COMPONENTS FOR LEARNING AND WHY THIS FORMAT

The volumes use a variety of presentation techniques that appeal to different ways people process information. As “field guides,” they are heavily illustrated – 200+ graphics each – to capture the essence of the concepts explored, or show the emotional impact of ideas involved. Workbook sections include personal reflection and group questions, and case studies drawn from history, movies, and other media that focus on identifying how various concepts play out in real-life situations. My theory is: If we can’t see key concepts while in the safe environment of watching a documentary or movie, what makes use think we can spot these problems when they’re right in front of us in our own organizations?

I use this format with diverse elements on purpose, despite knowing that what appeals to some people will annoy others. The reality is, if we’re working on teams, every kind of information processing preference is likely to be present. Are we going to squeeze everyone into the way(s) we most readily learn – or find better ways to collaborate where these elements would otherwise bring conflict?

You can preview the training series concepts, components, case studies, and samples of writings and workbook sections on the companion website.

KEY PRODUCTION AND LAUNCH DETAILS

This series has not turned out to be a standard sort of resource, and this won’t be a typical launch process. It’s a niche training/reference resource, to be distributed/sold by a non-profit enterprise. A few key details:

Field Guides will be self-published by print-on-demand. They will be available in printed form only, with no eBook/ePub or audiobook versions.

Sales will be managed by Creative Interfaces, a non-profit run by people I’ve known over 20 years. Field Guides will be available for purchase through its website and eBay store, with a discounted price schedule for multiple copies.

At this time, new copies will not be available through other sales outlets like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Discount Booksellers, etc., because of their required return policies, discount percentages, and invoice payment practices.

GROUPS I DEVELOPED THIS TRAINING SERIES FOR

While Do Good Plus Do No Harm does focus on the impact of abuse on individuals and institutions, and how to make things right, this isn’t just for abuse survivors. I had in mind three audiences who seek to make a constructive difference to counteract personal and organizational abuse and promote health:

SURVIVORS – survivors of abuse, those who support them as personal advocates, and those who take up their cause as social activists.

INVESTIGATORS – writers and resourcers on abuse, recovery, and organizational responsibility; students of history, culture, and strategic foresight (futuring).

BUILDERS – change agents who are: social entrepreneurs (issue-oriented), community or congregation developers (place-oriented), and help/health professionals (people-oriented).

One of my main goals was to create an integrated set of concepts and definitions to help these three groups find a common vocabulary for communicating and working together better. That goal shaped who I feel I need involved in my launch process, to give the broadest possible review of the material.

WHAT I’M ASKING REVIEWERS TO DO

Space on the Review Team is limited. I anticipate a Team of 30 to 45 people from a balance of those three groups: survivors, investigators, and builders. I’m asking those selected to do the following. (Details will be included in the Review Team Pack.)

1. Respond to any questions in Review Team emails. (I don’t expect there to be many updates.)

2. Read the PDF overview document that summarizes the complete training series, plus gives some detail on the first two Field Guides on how to deconstruct toxic organizations and situations, and what to do about them.

3. I will provide either a PDF or a prototype print copy (to be determined). Read Field Guide #1, and look at the related visual bibliographies on the companion website.

4. Read the companion website introduction to the “Proof of Concept” case studies and look through case #1 (The Hunger Games), #2 (Assassin’s Creed), and #3 (Dune) to see what you think.

5. Write your review about the Field Guide, website, and case studies. Send to Creative Interfaces to post on the sales website. NOTE: Your review may appear in the book’s endorsement section, if you have given your permission for that in your application.

6. Promote the book/your review on social media. I appreciate your linking to Creative Interfaces’ sales site, as this volume will NOT be available from any other source at this time.

7. Any additional feedback is welcomed. I hope to edit the series once all the Field Guides have been released, to make it more consistent in a way that’s not possible until all volumes are done.

REVIEW TEAM APPLICATION ~ FUTURISTGUY’S FIELD GUIDE #1

Application process for the Review Team is open through August 1, 2019.

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Analysis of the SBC International Mission Board “Examination Update” and Recommendations from Gray Plant Mooty

 

Post Overview and My Purposes

This purpose of this particular post is to give my analysis of the Examination Update on the Gray Plant Mooty (GPM) legal firm’s independent investigation of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). GPM’s interim report was posted as a news article on the IMB website on May 22, 2019.

As a futurist, two main concerns I have are to: (1) equip individuals and groups to discern and decide their most preferable pathway forward, and (2) give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope. I have invested much time over the last 45 years, studying systems and abuse issues. Many of my writings come out of those studies and my ongoing interest in developing case studies that help identify systemic abuse in organizations, and give some well-reasoned guidance on how to repair past damages to people, dismantle institutional elements that are harmful and replace them with healthier ones, and prevent future abuse. Continue reading

Review of SBC “Caring Well” Report–1 Background and Executive Summary

Series Purpose and Post Overview

As a futurist, two main concerns I have are to: (1) equip individuals and groups to discern and decide their most preferable pathway forward, and (2) give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope. I have invested much time over the last 45 years, studying systems and abuse issues. Many of my writings come out of those studies and my ongoing interest in developing case studies that help identify systemic abuse in organizations, and give some well-reasoned guidance on how to repair past damages to people, dismantle institutional elements that are harmful and replace them with healthier ones, and prevent future abuse.

This purpose of this particular series is to give my analysis of Caring Well: A Report from the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group (SAAG), posted June 8, 2019. Continue reading

Thirty Years Ago: “Troubles” At and After Tiananmen Square

This post is one I have mulled over for almost as long as I’ve been blogging, and that’s over 15 years–half the timespan between events related to the massacres in Tiananmen and the lesser-remembered Tianfu Squares, and now. I’ve delayed writing it, not just because it’s about some difficult and disturbing subject matter, but because if I were to write about this at all, I knew I needed to write with discretion, to do my best to shield a friend from China.

I have had many international friends over the years. Some were students, others a friend’s spouse; some immigrants, others refugees. They’ve come from every continent—except Antarctica!—and a range of generations. I’ve learned fascinating things from their personal stories while sharing coffee (or tea) and conversations, working with them or for them, or responding to their request for feedback on a project.

What the perfume district of Tehran was like in the era before Khomeini.

What life was like in the U.S. for a woman academic originally from the Middle East.

How tea tasters brew samples to grade the quality of tea leaf harvests.

Harrowing experiences on the open sea as a boat person escaping genocidal tyrants in Southeast Asia.

Cultural dynamics in South Asia among various castes and between different religious groups.

Ministry journeys that involved travel to every country in Central and South America.

Some of the changes during the early decades of post-colonial West Africa.

Punk rockers and missional ministers from Australia and other South Pacific islands.

Surviving the bombing of Coventry during World War II.

The prayer and devotional life of people who carried Bibles to believers behind the Iron Curtain.

What it was like to come of age during Mao’s cultural revolution, or around the time of Beijing Spring, or in the decade just before the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Which brings me full circle, back to this particular friend from China. Hopefully you can see from that rather random listing from around the globe that I care deeply about my friends, their stories, their cultures. So it should make sense that I found the Tiananmen events incredibly distressing. I’d had periodic correspondence with one particular friend for years before that event. But after Tiananmen, I didn’t hear anything … month after month after month.

I discovered there can be a great deal of angst in not knowing:

Have they been at all involved?

Is any Chinese citizen in jeopardy, simply for having been in the West?

Will I ever hear from them again?

There was also a great deal to learn about waiting and watchfulness.

How do we best pray for people under persecution?

What things must we do to protect others as best we can, to avoid putting them in danger?

How can we show solidarity with them when we cannot communicate directly?

Finally, something like six or seven months after the massacre, I received a letter from my friend. What a relief to see that distinctive penmanship and that international stamp!

My immediate response was to want to write back. But, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” So I slowed myself down and devoured that letter, reading it time and again to see what I could discern between the lines.

Clearly, it was cautiously written. I recall one passing comment along the lines of, “There were some troubles recently but everything is all right.” That was before a section on various happenings workwise and otherwise. I took it as a veiled reference to the massacre and the widespread crackdown that followed.

What to do now, though? I felt my friend was telling me as discretely as possible that they’d come through this period of national trials, but the letter also had a tone to it of saying goodbye.

Sadly, I strongly felt I should not write back. Sometimes I’ve regretted not doing so, but overall feel that was the best decision in this sensitive situation.

And so, this 30-year milestone for Tiananmen brings forth a flood of emotions. I am thankful that my friend was safe—though our ongoing friendship was lost, and I doubt those lines of communication can ever be reestablished. I do find some degree of comfort in trusting that God holds all people in His hands and heart of providence.

And this post is my way of saying a goodbye now that I could not then …

*Love Over Fear* Book Review

Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing Our Polarized World, by Dan White, Jr., (Moody Press, 2019). ISBN 9780802418880.

Dan White Jr. shows us how to be a both/and bridge builder in an either/or era.

The last few years have felt as scary and angst-inducing as I remember the late 1960s and early 1970s being, when I was in high school. Our entire society was snared in more upheavals than the movie San Andreas. Geo-political crisis abroad, war on poverty at home. Civil rights and seeking to end racism, promoting equality for women. The first Earth Day with its hints that today’s technological progress could cost us tomorrow’s environment. Culture clashes on these and other issues showed up every single day, on the streets and in the news.

Opposing bumper sticker slogans seen everywhere back then got at the essence of the differences: “America—love it or leave it” versus “America—change it or lose it.”

Signs of the times, then—and now. All polar opposites and no room for anything or anyone in between. Every issue so heart-felt that expressing one’s opinion seems obligatory. But what do we do if our intended audience doesn’t hear us in these heated exchanges? The next-level option seems just to say it louder. But that keeps getting us nowhere but pounding down our position until we’re more deeply entrenched.

We’ve become plagued by this level of intense polarization again. I constantly see evidences of either/or thinking in discussions that turn into debates, social media outrage that gets snarly, and free speech that starts out peaceful but turns into us-versus-them verbal grenade violence. If we’re going to change this, we’ve got to figure out middle ground, encourage in-between zones. I wanted to get Dan’s perspective in Love Over Fear, because it was promoted as just such a way to bridge such voids.

And I believe he succeeds. This is not a bunch of mere theoretical principles or formulaic points—though Dan lays out a clear and accessible approach to change, for us as everyday disciples. He practices what that preaches and shows us how navigating differences with his real-world neighbors works out, by transforming typical fear-based responses of attack or avoid through the genuine power of affection.

Our current crisis of polarization affects all people, all demographics, all political and theological views. A constructive future depends on us listening and learning across all such differences, and finding our way together through these troubled times. In Love Over Fear, Dan White, Jr., gives us an avenue of practical ways to move forward in that crucial bridge-building venture.

NOTES:

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Website: Check out Dan White Jr.‘s Love Over Fear Project website for backstory, book details, additional #LoveOverFear resources, and links to order from some favorite sources.

*Love Over Fear* #5 – Chapter 4: Affection for Monsters

 

Chapter 4: Affection for Monsters

This morning, I wrote a first draft of my overall book review for Love Over Fear, by Dan White, Jr. Part of that review lists key reasons why this book is a valuable, practical resource for us to be better both/and bridge-builders in an either/or era of polarization.

One thing I’m finding I especially appreciate is that Dan doesn’t send us into a realm without nuances, where all differences are now acceptable and anything goes. There are still issues of right and wrong, good and evil. This seems particularly important to keep in mind while reading Chapter 4, “Affection for Monsters,” which makes the case that Jesus Christ’s command to love our enemies does not contain any loopholes.

Underneath any and all differences we have as people, we share in common the reality of being made in the image of God. There is something worthy of acknowledgment and respect in that, even if there are behaviors that show that image has been broken.

Here are some quotes from Chapter 4 that I found most thought provoking. Some relate to that seemingly impossible command to love our enemies (thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to make that possible!). Others give us some indicators for how we can know whether we’re making progress. The chapter itself offers some in-depth examples from Dan and others showing how to love enemies through listening, through presence, through dialogue. Continue reading

For Such A Time As This–Rally Against Abuse at SBC 2019 Annual Meeting

If you’re going to the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham, please consider attending this rally. It highlights crucial issues about abuse, to help the SBC become safer and more sustainable. I see this as especially needed in light of cultural and congregational #MeToo movements of recent years. Here are the goals for this year’s Rally. Continue reading