Trajectories, Transformations, and the Mighty Metaphor of the Humble Slingshot

Portrait of a handsome teenage bad boy with slingshot and stylish haircut, softbox lighting studio shot.

My Dad was pretty darn good at classic “weaponry” – implements that seem exotic in the modern era: sling, slingshot, and bullwhip. Except these items weren’t exactly exotic in the high-elevation plains of the western frontier states. There you constantly had to be on alert to all sorts of vermin and venomous snakes, and these were just tools of the trade to keep you safe. Plus, they provided great break times while fishing, hiking, or picnicking out in the wilds. Continue reading

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Final Countdown to Launching Futuristguy’s Field Guide #1!

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN IS ON – and I’d greatly appreciate your prayers for stamina and wisdom, as my schedule is packed this month!

WEEK #1. I start off with a bunch of small catch-up projects. Then the book layout file is due from my graphic designer – that starts the actual book-launch countdown clock. Check to see that all content and all 200+ images are there and in their right places.

WEEK #2. Update the document file with any changes, run a test copy of the book, do a final format check, repeat that process if needed. Work on a one-page flyer that overviews the series and gives sales details on the first book.

WEEK #3. Finish flyer. Contact people I’ll be inviting to review the book. Also, I’m attending The Courage Conference, where I’ll be connecting with some of these reviewers, and just enjoying being with others involved in similar ministries.

WEEKS #4-5. Finalize sales webpages. Finish three articles for the companion website. And if all has gone well, order books for reviewers, start up sales, and get the word out that the book’s available!

As you can imagine, each of those tasks has mounds of details to do, so I will likely be off-line more than I am on, but will check messages regularly.

But the last steps are really really here. Finally – almost done! Thanks for your prayers and support along the way …

Coming to Terms with Culture, Context, and Civil Conversations

In 1979, I read the just-released *Contextualization: A Theology of Gospel and Culture* by Bruce J. Nicholls. I still recall his description of contextualization tasks when one African tribe wanted to share the gospel with another.

The way Nicholls saw it, they would need to think through at least four cultures: (1) Their own tribe’s culture and how it differed from (2) the other tribe’s culture. (3) How their culture had been affected by colonial culture syncretized into it by European missionaries.

(4) What the culture of biblical times was had to be explored and interpreted in order to exegete principles that could/should be applied to Christians in either tribe — i.e., which practices in the Bible were cultural options, not moral requirements.

In decades since, I’ve gradually understood better the complexity of these interconnected contextualization tasks. Four key things come to mind as essential: (1) personal presence with other people, (2) careful listening (basically two open ears, one closed mouth), and (3) time. (4) We need to view each person as living an individual culture within their larger social context. We aren’t amorphous parts of a categorical group or label. Useful as cultural categories are, the larger the group, the less likely its paradigm features apply to a person in it.

Contextualization to bridge cultural differences is a paradoxical practice. We can not discern general cultural trends if we do not truly hear lived experiences of specific individuals. And if we only pay attention to individuals, we fail to see how culture influences them.

Probably a fifth discipline is needed for cross-cultural communication to be more effective: humility. Namely, a willingness to share in the conversation – not be in control over it, plus speak honestly and keep asking clarification questions to work through to understanding.

It strikes me these five practices also form the core of civility in social discourse, regardless of the topics at hand. But humility is the center of civility; if we are unwilling to partner in conversations, surely we only get diatribes and debates, never true dialogue.

Here’s the link to the 2003 reprint of Bruce Nicholls’ book, one of the formative volumes in the 1970sand ’80s on understanding the context for effective cross-cultural communications.

Forty Years of Trends Leading to #MeToo, #ChurchToo, and #SBCToo

Overview:

The following article is compiled from a series of comments I made on a post at The Wartburg Watch in June 2018 about the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the impact of abuse survivor movements. I have only edited it for link format, indenting quotations, and bold-facing major points. I have also added some links to related resource posts and pages, and any add-on notes are in square brackets.

Historical Source Notes:

The “Me Too” movement was begun by Tarana Burke, as documented in this New York Times article: The Woman Who Created #MeToo Long Before Hashtags, by Sandra E. Garcia (October 20, 2017). It was picked up in late 2017 as the #MeToo hashtag campaign on social media, in the wake of a series of reports and revelations by survivors of sexual and power abuse by Harvey Weinstein and others.

Likewise, the #ChurchToo hashtag and campaign have a history. It goes back to about November 2017, when first used by Hannah Paasch and Emily Joy, as documented in their podcast with Exvangelical podcast host Blake Chastain: Ep. 59: #ChurchToo with Hannah Paasch & Emily Joy (December 6, 2017).

The #SBCToo hashtag campaign on Twitter apparently started April 28, 2018, following the detailed reports of abuse of power by Paige Patterson. It picked up significant pace and intensity with the approach of the SBC annual meeting (June 12-13, 2018), their resolution on abuse, the publication of two survivors’ experiences of SBC clergy sexual misconduct: Jules Woodson and Anne Marie Miller, and the publicity of these SBC situations via such sites as For Such A Time As This SBC Rally 2018 and Justice For Anne.

Other denominations and organizations have also adapted this hashtag campaign to their institution.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

My Comments on The Wartburg Watch:

Continue reading

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: Continue reading

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.