Remembering the “Zero Hour” Over Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This week marks the 73rd year since the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima, Japan, (August 6) and a few days later on Nagasaki (August 9).

Two months ago, Judy Wu Dominick, whom I follow on Twitter, posted a photo of “the Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.” This image and knowing what it meant stirred up a lot of emotions. It moved me to post on memories I’d been mulling over the past few years. Here is that series of tweets:

Wow. Sobering. This photo stirs up many feelings and brings back memories – one in particular connection that deals with nuclear war, conflict, and personal peacemaking. I hope it’s okay to share a few details here. /1

The Newsweek issue of July 29, 1985, focused on 40 years of legacy of the atomic bomb. It included accounts of survivors and eyewitnesses. One was Larry Johnston, a Manhattan Project physicist who developed the bomb’s timer device. He was the only physicist present for the Trinity test, and both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. /2

Dr. Johnston was also a devout Christian, and member of the church I attended. He shared about his Newsweek interview. Most poignantly, he knew his work had harmed people. He’d said that if he met someone who’d lost family in the bombings, he’d want to talk with them, apologize, and ask their forgiveness. /3

That happened unexpectedly, at a science summit when he met Chia-Tsang Lu, an agronomist from China whose brother died in Hiroshima while attending medical school. It was uncomfortable for Dr. Johnston, yet Dr. Lu was gracious, and did not hold against Dr. Johnston his part in his brother’s death. /4

It’s one thing to read about that encounter in Newsweek, as well as about rifts that occurred within Dr. Johnston’s own family and among colleagues from his work on nuclear bombs. It’s another to have heard him sharing it in person, reaching for words to capture the complexities of situation and emotion. /5

As I reflect on this, I continue to see how our lives interconnect, even when we don’t realize it. Our actions impact others, in ways that are destructive or constructive – that destroy or restore. Despite war, we were designed to be people of peace, treating all with dignity, impartiality, and hospitality. /6

Thank you for posting the photo … seeing the Enola Gay is a timely, stark reminder of the necessity to seek to embody what it means to be people of peace in times of strife. /7

In my role as a writer, part of my calling has been to process experiences involving trauma, recovery, and resilience – not just from researching other people’s experiences, but my searching into my own. Many of the personal pieces will show up eventually in the training series I’ve been developing. I’ll have segments that share what I learned from presentations by Jesse Owens, Archie Moore, and Flo Kennedy. I’ll share about pilgrimages to places surrounded by traumatic history – Angel Island, Dachau, Flossenbürg (where Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed). And I’ll share life lessons from my professor who was a conscientious objector during World War II, friends who lived through Mao’s cultural revolution and Tiananmen Square, my friend who lived near The Peoples Temple in San Francisco during the era of the Jonestown Massacre, a friend who served as correspondent for a survivor of the Holocaust who had a worldwide speaking ministry. Also, I’ll include an extended version of these recollections about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and what I learned from what Dr. Johnston shared.

Meanwhile, you might be interested to hear a bit about how I typically prepare for such processing. I’ve found one of the best ways to find meanings in what I’ve experienced is to look to the broader context and see what it meant to others. Media is one of the best ways I’ve found to do.

So, I have been collecting select resources to do just that to amplify my thinking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I learn a lot the situation, people involved, and social impact during the course of finding options and choosing media I find the most relevant, or perhaps just intuitively intriguing. (In those cases, I often find a goldmine of information in them!) And it takes a while to sort out the possibilities, especially to find materials produced by people with close connections to the issues at hand or otherwise known for having an important perspective.

Once I have the set and the timing feels right, I’ll immerse myself in them. That seems to turn out the best way to focus my thoughts and to create a sort of “spiritual and historical MRI” to capture the context of the events and the interior thoughts and feelings of those who’ve experienced them. Here’s what I’ve chosen so far. (I’ll post the rest of the images once I’ve gotten all the items.)

Personal accounts, including from people in the Manhattan Project, those involved in delivering the bombs, and survivors. Newsweek, July 29, 1985, issue.

Documentary film. White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japanese anime movie. Grave of the Fireflies (2 disc edition with special features not found elsewhere).

Graphic novels. Barefoot Gen series of 10 volumes by Keiji Nakazawa.

Photographs. Hiroshima: Remembering 1945 & 1958, by Virginia Moffat Khuri.

Research and analysis on historical trauma and its impact. Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima, by Robert Jay Lifton (paperback edition with new introduction by Dr. Lifton, who is considered by many to be the father of trauma psychology). And Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of Denial, by Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell.

I understand not everyone is called to this kind of process if they write about abuse, trauma, or recovery–or minister to survivors and their support networks. But all of us can benefit from some time of reflection on difficult experiences of ourselves and others. That’s a good thing, better so when aided by photos, artwork, stories, personal stories, discussions with friends, visits to monuments and memorials, reading fiction or non-fiction works. In all of this, may we develop as people of peace, as our self-understanding deepens, and our empathy for others broadens.


Movie Recommendations in Remembrance of Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918. Surely he is one of the most renowned people of the 20th and 21st centuries. In honor of what would have been his 100th birthday, I have three movies to recommend.

Mandela died in 2013, just around the time when a movie based on his autobiography premiered. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom contrasts how similar suffering led to different trajectories for Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie. For him, apartheid and imprisonment led to a heart for truth, justice, and reconciliation. For her, these conditions propelled her on an opposite path. This is instructive — and an important warning — during an era when oppression and injustice are so pervasive in our society.

The past few years, I’ve explored the topic of apartheid in South Africa and the role that peace-making played there in the 1990s. I’ve looked at how Nelson Mandela in particular sought to reduce enmity between the races, and to forge a sense of one nation out of what had been a horrific race-based split. Among the many documentaries and dramatizations I’ve watched about apartheid are Invictus, including all the related special feature interviews, about how the 1995 Rugby World Cup became a symbolic center for uniting the nation, and a related documentary, Reconciliation: Mandela’s Miracle.

In these movies, I see deep lessons on both humility and having a conciliatory spirit, and how these two complementary attitudes can fuel peace-making efforts that embody “compassion, restraint, and generosity.” Those three qualities were absent under apartheid, according to a speech Mandela gives to his fellow black and colored South Africans in Invictus. And now, as their newly elected president, he hopes these qualities will be exhibited by the black and colored majority toward the white minority.

These are movies for our times, whether we are survivors of injustice, leaders in social enterprises or ministries, or everyday people who want to make a difference.


Tullian Tchividjian and Fortress Press: Don’t Legitimate Second Chances Require a Real Track Record of Repentance First?

Unfortunate things afoot with a return to a publishing platform by Tullian Tchividjian at Fortress Press, as endorsed by acquisitions editor Tony Jones. See this post at Spiritual Sounding Board on the press release and related issues.

Former Fortress Press editor David Lott posted a lengthy comment critical of the news on this announced publishing relationship, and how it is out-of-sync with the former reputation and publishing line of the company. Mr. Lott also cross-posted the above comment on his public Facebook page, along with these two later comments with relevant details and further analysis.

Comment #1, things get normalized that shouldn’t be.

Comment #2, clarification about Fortress Minneapolis under separate management.

More background: In 2015-2017, SSB posted extensively regarding Tullian Tchividjian and his reported multiple relationships of sexual misconduct, serial refusal of accountability, and more. Although he’s recently been speaking out on God’s grace in suffering, he has multiple unresolved relational/organizational issues. This book contract with Fortress Press appears to give him unconditional restoration without a track record of repentance plus remediation/repair work to mitigate damages.

Don’t legitimate second chances

require a real track record of repentance first?

Apologies are just words; transformed direction requires action.

One publisher apparently did impose consequences on Tullian Tchividjian’s unresolved interpersonal and institutional issues. Spiritual Sounding Board appealed in 2017 to David C Cook, which published several bestsellers by him. Julie Anne Smith asked them to stop promoting him and his books. (Research shows that several of them were released and/or became bestsellers while he was reportedly in the midst of sexual misconduct. This chart contains a detailed visual timeline.) His titles are now gone from their sales section.

God’s grace truly does liberate. But abuse and misconduct emotionally imprison their victims. If Tullian Tchividjian’s latching onto grace the last few years is genuine, surely he can refrain from spreading that news and rebuilding any public platform until he’s acted responsibly toward specific people he harmed.

~ Brad/futuristguy

This article has been cross-posted at Spiritual Sounding Board.

Futuristguy’s Field Guide “Essentials” – Three-Frame Tutorials on Dealing with Systemic Abuse

On my Futuristguy’s Field Guides site, I’ve posted Field Guide “Essentials” — A Series of Three-Frame Tutorials on Dealing with Systemic Abuse. This “Essentials” post has a series of three-frame tutorials, or “Threetorials,” as I have sometimes called them. In the 10 Threetorials posted, the first slide usually gives a definition of the concept framework, or a summary quote about it. The second slide usually gives some kind of visual image, chart, or graphic, plus a few details. (Note my Fotolia licensing information at the bottom of such slides.) The third slide expands on some of the most important points in the first two slides.

The tutorials there include the shorter versions of these 10-frame Essentials that I posted here on my futuristguy site:

Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorials #1 and #2. [Essentials #1 is three core individual freedoms, drawn from global sources. Essentials #2 is The road to institutionalization via reversing of our freedoms.]

Futuristguy’s Field Guides — Essentials Tutorial #3. [Essentials #3 is Categorizing many specific manipulation techniques into a “Taxonomy of Toxic Tactics.”]


What Will It Take for the SBC to “Clean House”? Four Suggestions from a Futurist.

SBC Cleaning House – Four Suggestions from a Futurist

Why would I give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

As a part of the larger Body of Christ, I am concerned about what seems to me to be a pivot point in the SBC’s trajectory. The SBC has many positive elements to its legacy. However, as an association of autonomous local churches and Cooperative Program entities, it has fallen short overall in systemic ways that corrode the credibility of the whole and the parts, the mission and the message. While some may dispute those conclusions, the details behind them have been making their way into the light for a very long time — and especially in the past few months.

As a futurist, two of my main concerns are always:

(1) to equip individuals and groups to discern and decide the most preferable pathway forward, and

(2) to give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope.

As a Christian futurist, I seek to have all I do steeped in an understanding of Christlikeness and what it means for us to serve as His disciples and as “people of peace” who treat all others with dignity as individuals; with impartiality toward any group demographics, whether those are socially considered preferred or stigmatized; and with hospitality in welcoming them to see who Jesus Christ is and what a community of disciples looks like.

From all I believe I know about organizational systems and problems of toxicity, I am convinced that the SBC is at a critical moment in its history. If destructive patterns that have become especially evident in recent times are not addressed, I do not see much possibility for health and sustainability going forward. I am venturing to give advice in these suggestions and links, because what happens with your body of believers affects us all.

Who am I to give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

Although I view myself as a Christian disciple first of all and an Anabaptist in theology second, for most of the past 25 years, I have been almost exclusively associated with SBC congregations. I was first in an SBC church plant in 1978, and have been involved on the teams of eight church plants and ministry start-ups, primarily SBC, since the mid-1990s. I was in the first cohort of Nehemiah Project church-planter associates, and later was certified as a Level 1 church planter candidate assessment and did the self-study materials for Level 2. For several years early on in the 2000 decade, I evaluated the speaking portions of candidates assessments. Continue reading

Annotated Reader’s Guide to Futuristguy on Abuse Recovery, Advocacy, and Activism

Issues Involving Individuals, Institutions, Leaders,

Relational and Systems Repair Work, and Technical Research

INTRODUCTORY NOTES: Since 2007, I have done research writing on issues related to individual, institutional, and ideological elements contributing to abuse and violence. The materials I’ve developed draw from two main sources: (1) Personal experiences of participation in organizations that turned out to have malignant leaders and so were toxic, and (2) extensive experiences working with non-profit agencies, churches, and start-ups since 1973. Many of these materials linked to here are technical, some are more personal. I have been reorganizing these and many other articles into four Field Guides to improve the logical flow, and editing them for consistency and accessibility. In the meantime, here are select articles that offer some help on particular aspects of systemic abuse issues.

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Continue reading

Willow Creek and Rapprochement: Truth THEN Reconciliation; Accountability OR Consequences

I was reflecting on the recent update from the Elders at Willow Creek Church, and the responses from Betty Schmidt, Vonda Dyer, and Nancy Ortberg to it, as well as to the Elders having contacted these women about having hired Crossroads Resolution Group and wanting to seek reconciliation.

It occurred to me that the Elders were once again imposing their perspective and will onto the situation. They did not ask first what the women whom WCC has let be called liars wanted, or those WCC let be called colluders wanted, or what either still-stigmatized group of individuals were willing to consider in terms of a process of rapprochement.

No … they decided, they hired, they “reached out,” they left messages.

But they have not yet admitted to “sins,” at best, only to “missteps.” They have not yet bothered to apologize. They have not yet repudiated or retracted the public name-calling statements. As far as I can see, they are still trying to run the show.

And none of that models being conciliatory. It continues the control.

None of it opens the way for reestablishing harmony. It deepens the hurt.

None of it mends their image. It mars their identity even more.

It may look as if Willow Creek leaders are being conciliatory, but, I believe, they are compounding their offenses. By directing the process, they are being disrespectful to those whom their own employees and board members have publicly offended. I cannot see that Crossroads Resolution Group is the answer to Willow Creek’s damaged reputation or broken relationships. Instead, it has created more for Willow Creek to repair.

Ms. Dyer’s response is entitled, “The Cart Before the Horse.” Ms. Ortberg’s response is entitled, “Sequence Matters.” On these lines, there are lessons to be learned here from the formal process used in post-Apartheid South Africa by their Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

From all that I have studied about this process, the emphasis was to speak openly about what had happened – uncover the truth, raw and horrific though it was. That was necessary so it could no longer be covered up, so that the truth would be known, so that such human rights violations would hopefully never happen again. For if this remained in the darkness, surely it would repeat itself.

Truth must come before reconciliation, if you truly want restored relations.

The Truth and Reconciliation process also offered amnesty for those who had victimized their fellow citizens. However, this part of the process had its own requirements: There was no amnesty without taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Accountability for actions must precede release from consequences, and even then amnesty does not erase all forms of negative impact from misdeeds.

I confess, I am ambivalent about Willow Creek Church, and Willow Creek Association and their Global Leadership Summit. Don’t get me wrong – ambivalence is not the same as apathy. The former is strong emotions going in conflicting directions; the latter is not caring or giving up on caring.

I have hope that Willow Creek can change course and do things right. And I also think the longer they game-play this process, the worse they find it will be. But, that could either make the public pressure for them to come clean even more intense, or could harden them into complete recalcitrance. For the sake of the Kingdom, and for those who are survivors of their institution’s misconduct, I care which way this goes. Truth first, then reconciliation, and accountability or else more consequences – and achieving all of that requires Willow Creek leaders to release control and let those whom they have harmed lead the way from here.

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For those interested, my post on Surprises from Post-Apartheid South Africa shares some background on that era and their Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It includes links to other media resources, including the official TRC website.