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

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Tributes for Two Teachers ~ Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2015

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Over the years, I’ve come to see how similar many of the underlying dynamics and tactics are between domestic violence and abuse of power in religious contexts – the grooming, verbal assaults, emotional manipulations, implanting of lies, quenching of hope.

My awareness about survivors of domestic violence began earlier than my understanding of spiritual abuse. It started 40 years ago with what I learned from my sister, Romae [pronounced like row + MAY], who had friends who were survivors of domestic violence. She stepped into roles of support, advocacy, and activism, and taught me all along the way.

Then, 10 years later, I helped “Janet” – one of my own friends who was a survivor – edit the story of her experiences. I recently got in touch with Janet, to thank her for making a difference in my life by sharing her story with me.

Both my sister and Janet brought light into dark places to the people around them. Their role-modeling of advocacy and activism helped me learn how to come alongside those who were lurking in the shadows, or emerging from them, and offer them whatever support I could. In honor of Romae and Janet, I decided to share two short pieces I’d written. Part of the tribute to my sister is from the obituary I wrote for her memorial service. The piece about Janet I edited from a comment I posted earlier this year on David Hayward’s post about “Abuse and the Privileges of Power.” Continue reading

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” – A Bit About eBay and Me, and Thanksgiving for God’s Provisions

The Chirp-Chirp Bird Reminds of God's Faithful Provisions ...

The Chirp-Chirp Bird Reminds of God’s Faithful Provisions …

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV)

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“The Gift Is You” by David Wolf Launches July 29th

Once in a while, I post about resources worth noting. Today, I wanted to let you know about The Gift is You – a friend’s book that officially launches on Tuesday, July 29. It’s the personal story of David Wolf, a “Type A” personality doctor who delivered over 10,000 babies during his career, did medical mission work in Haiti, and mentored many other doctors – but ended up partially paralyzed from a go-kart accident at age 53, on July 29, 2001. Instead of letting such difficult circumstances stop him, David chose to roll with and around his obstacles.

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that part of God’s design is our innate desire to make a difference. When we engage that flow from our soul, the impact of our actions is like running water: It spreads out, seeps in, helps seedlings of change grow elsewhere. But what happens when barriers appear – challenges and changes, sufferings and frustrations? That water can be stoppered and the resulting lake can stagnate, but the stream of desire to make a difference just doesn’t go away. How can it find routes around, under, and/or over the inevitable barriers that life brings our way? That’s part of what tempers our character and sparks our creativity. And how David learned to navigate with grace such drastic changes in his life is what I find the most inspirational about his story.

I had the opportunity to help shape an earlier version of his book, and trust you’ll find true what the book’s subtitle says, “Encouragement for people seeking hope during life’s tough times.” The official launch day for the book is Tuesday, July 29. Check out other reviews on Amazon, and please consider purchasing on the 29th to give his book a boost! Proceeds from sales go to non-profits with ministries in Haiti and Congo.

 

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day

This is a day of remembrance.

In 1984, I was able to journey to Dachau. I’d already read books about the concentration camp, and while I was there I watched their documentary film and saw the site.

In 1987, I went to Flossenbürg, where nearly 100,000 prisoners went through its gates and 3 out of 10 died there. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of them. The international chapel there had stained glass windows or artwork donated by the many countries and cultures who lost citizens there. It was a solemn moment, sensing the souls of many whom history overlooks.

I am reminded today of a book related to the Holocaust that I read in the 1990s. It is by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton. Continue reading

Suicide, One Last Snapshot of the Heart, and Hope Beyond …

It is a custom in many Western and Central European cultures that, when family and close friends part company, they take a few minutes and simply gaze in solemn silence into their loved one’s face. It is as if they are memorizing every line, capturing each nuance of color and shade. As they lock into one final look, wordless volumes speak between to the eternity of the soul that shines through eyes. It offers one last snapshot of the heart, before life circumstances cause them to part.

In the last few days, I’ve received word from three friends about the suicide of someone they love. In these cases, they did not have opportunity for that one final portrait, that one last intentional gaze …

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Midnight, Advent, and Hope …

 Midnight, Advent, and Hope …

© 2008, 2012 Brad Sargent.

In light of the shootings in Connecticut this past week, I felt I needed to do something to help counteract some of the shadow. I sensed I should repost this article, which was originally published November 11, 2008, under the title of “midnight …” It explores a few of the practical antidotes to selfishness, ugliness, and evil: prayer, beauty, and kindness – all very appropriate themes for Advent. May this article be used to spark some kindling of hope in the midst of the darkness of midnight … Continue reading