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 …

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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.

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My Comments on The Wartburg Watch:

Continue reading

Two Reposts: Pursuing Questions That Lead to the Answer[er] & Finding a Culture’s Quest/ion

“Gold Guy With Question” (c) Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #16798720, Licensed to Brad Sargent.

Introduction (2017)

Questions are something I find central to pretty much everything I do in terms of professional work, personal ministry, and pastimes. Editing is about questioning a text to see if what it says makes sense — or, if not, how to work with the author to refine it so it does. Research writing involves questions that guide the search for details (Who did what?), timelines (When did that happen, and how did that shape the context of what happened?), personal profiles (Who are you, and what drives your life in the pathway that you’re on?), and practicalities (What went wrong, why, and how can we repair that?). As to hobbies, I especially enjoy movies because, it seems to me, each one typically wrestles with two or three Big-Idea-Earth-Shattering-Or-Life-Shaping Questions. So, if I can identify those questions, I have a resource to share with people who are looking for an answer, or who’ve been living out an answer that doesn’t really fit The Question That Drives Their Life.

Anyway, I recently became acquainted with someone who really, REALLY likes the topic of questions. So, I thought I’d edit and repost these for my new friend’s enjoyment. I wrote the first one for Advent almost a decade ago in 2008. That same year, I republished an article from 2004 about questions the catalyze subcultures — another topic I find very intriguing, especially since it ties right in with social change. (I first wrote about subculturization in 1997 and, if all goes well, I’ll be able to pick up that thread again sometime soon to revisit it from the angle of social movements and how social entrepreneurs can navigate them.)

  • Hope Awaits: Pursuing Questions That Lead to the Answer[er] (2008)
  • Finding a Culture’s Quest/ion and Shaping Their Transformative Trajectory (2004)

I hope friends old and new will find something of interest in these articles, in picking up new questions or polishing reflections from old ones. Continue reading

Critique of the “Church Clarity” Scoring System on LGBTQ Policies

Church Clarity is a recently-launched website that promotes churches — especially evangelical ones — clearly stating on their websites their policies on LGBTQ participation. In the homepage section “Our Solution,” they state “Church Clarity is not advocating for policy changes. Together, we’re establishing a new standard for church policy disclosure: We believe that churches have a responsibility to be clear about their policies on their primary websites.” They also state that they “believe that ambiguity is harmful and clarity is reasonable.”

To these ends, their team created a classification/scoring system for how a church website communicates their policies on LGBTQ. So far, their team has applied this system mostly to mega-churches, and they also provide a means for crowd-sourcing information and assessments.

I am for transparency and clarity. And on this issue in particular that has been so contentious, it seems reasonable to expect a church’s or denomination’s overall stance to be accessible and clear for those who seek that information. However, is that assumption fully and really so, does the scoring schema work for all contemporary systems of theologies and policies, and is this enterprise potentially about something besides seeking clarity in disclosure? Continue reading

A “Systems Approach” and Some Historical Background on Dealing with Abuse and Violence

To deal with “systemic abuse,” we must understand systems, victimization, and what makes individuals and institutions vulnerable.

By Brad Sargent with input from Julie Anne Smith.

Cross-posted as a guest post at Spiritual Sounding Board.

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How will our church serve those who’ve suffered the harm of childhood sexual abuse, and seek to prevent it from happening to others? On this difficult but foundational issue of human dignity and care, will we choose conscience and compassion – or corrosion and complacency? The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide and the range of other resources from GRACE equip us with clear definitions, well-organized knowledge, and practical skills to follow a right and righteous path on these global problems of violence and abuse.

In the previous post, I gave a brief preview of key features for The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide from a systems perspective, and listed other resources from GRACE and New Growth Press. In this post, I will add my thoughts on the big picture of systemic abuse, why we’ve needed a set of resources to deal with it, and share some personal and historical perspectives on how the Policy Guide and other books produced by GRACE represent answers to some longstanding prayers. Continue reading

Book Review: The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, by Boz Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits

Key component in a system of resources on child sexual abuse for policy makers, survivors, educators, and advocates.

By Brad Sargent with input from Julie Anne Smith.

Cross-posted as a guest post at Spiritual Sounding Board.

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Spiritual Sounding Board was invited to participate in the Litfuse “blog tour” for the recently released Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. They asked us to post a one-paragraph summary of our overall response to this resource book, so that could be used as an excerpt on other sites. Here is what I wrote:

How will our church serve those who’ve suffered the harm of childhood sexual abuse, and seek to prevent it from happening to others? On this difficult but foundational issue of human dignity and care, will we choose conscience and compassion – or corrosion and complacency? The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide and the range of other resources from GRACE equip us with clear definitions, well-organized knowledge, and practical skills to follow a right and righteous path on these global problems of violence and abuse.

Available reviews of the Policy Guide share about its concepts and content from a variety of angles. Already posted on Amazon are great summaries, detailed insights from church leaders, poignant personal accounts from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Litfuse Publicity Group has review excerpts and links to full posts, and New Growth Press, which published this book, has additional endorsements.

In this post, I will give a brief preview of key features from a systems perspective, and list other resources from GRACE and New Growth Press. In a follow-up post, I will add my thoughts on the big picture of systemic abuse, why we’ve needed a set of resources to deal with it, and share some personal perspectives on how the Policy Guide and other books produced by GRACE represent answers to some longstanding prayers. Continue reading