Today Marks My 17th Blogiversary!

Who knows how to spell this — blogiversary, or blogaversary? Regardless, I’m blogging this!

Yes, I started my blog on April Fool’s Day, in 2003. So now I’ve been blogging for 17 years.

Futuristguy has been my main blog since 2007. But I’ve posted numerous other blogs — some that I still update, some that are archived, some (all of my Inknoise sites) that got digitally decimated by black hat hackers. If you’re interested in seeing what’s what, here are the lists and descriptions of my content blogs and media/fansite blogs.

I’ve always liked multiple forms of media, from games to comics and music and movies and more, so those have been important ways for me to collect, engage with, and learn from things other than books. So expect to see another media-related site or two to come, and more filling in of gaps when time and energy let me get photos or scans and write descriptions.

Anyway, early this morning, to celebrate the day, I reread my previous posts about blogiversary milestones. Here is the list of them in order, along with some quotes that struck me as intriguing, and my commentary on what I’m rereading about my blogging history.

Thanks for reading my blog(s), and I hope you continue to find items of interest as time goes on! Continue reading

Warrior-Wear Series #1 — I’m Blogging This: Hot Tamales Peeps

MONDAY, MARCH 30. So to keep myself occupied yesterday and today, I did clothes sorting and laundry. Four. Loads. Sorted stuff in an entire dresser for what to keep, recycle, discard.

Look what I found–this most excellent shirt! And see what muh peeps sent me from Texas via USPS today! (I hear these are a Kroeger’s exclusive — so I’m stoked!)

More Warrior-Wear Message Shirts another time. Meanwhile, hunker down, carry on, stay safe all y’all.

TUESDAY, MARCH 31. And for all those Inquiring Minds who were curious and wanted to know … this was a two-pack of packages of Hot Tamales Peeps, with two boxes of Peeps in each package, a row of five Peeps in each box.

And what were they like: Sweet? Spicy? Spicy hot? Fire-alarm-get-the-fire-extinguisher hot?

Just a bit of “zip.” Kind of like a mild to medium pepper jelly. Sweet, tangy, and an oh-so-nice little bit of hot tamale!

Of course, sometimes spicy stuff builds up as one continues indulging. Although I might try that under other circumstances, I’d rather stretch these out and enjoy them for longer!

Hmm … stretch them out. That could work. Literally. But I’ll stick with metapeephorically.

Case Studies on Successful Media/Transmedia Franchising: Could *Dune* be Next?

Could Dune be The Next Big Franchise?

I am a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune saga. I came to Arrakis in mid-life, when my sci-fi aficionado friend Deb introduced me to the series 20+ years ago when I was 40-ish. Perhaps because I started into the series as an adult, halfway through a career that included too many experiences of toxic leaders, I especially appreciated Herbert’s exploration of power and its impact (“Power is a magnet that draws the corruptible.”). As an amateur organizational ecologist, I also dug into his principles for developing a sustainable environment, and, as a futurist, his explorations of human elements in possible futures.

I’ve posted about his views on power, developed my own version of a chronological “reader’s guide” to the entire series, and even set up a “visual bibliography” fansite with some of the classic products that have been licensed to tell the story of Dune in other types of media — movies, games, audiobooks, toys, music, etc. This is all a part of my fascination with transmedia and the inner workings of successful storying franchises. This is something I’ve been tracking since the days of Harry Potter books and films and Lord of the Rings movie series, and more recently with The Hunger Games.

A recent discussion on Twitter initiated by Secrets of Dune asked whether people thought that Denis Villeneuve’s forthcoming adaptations of Frank Herbert’s Dune could become the next Lord of the Rings or Star Wars franchise. I thought about this a while, and this was my response: Continue reading

January 13. Year 13. Double-Lucky 13!

I’ve never been superstitious about 13s, at least not in a negative way. Kind of like them, actually, and often find fun in them, while seeking to create significance to them. I was born on the 13th. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. And today seems to be a double-lucky 13th.

Last night I was doing background research on Frank Herbert and his Dune saga, and ran across something I’d written in 2007 which I hadn’t reread in years. It was a discussion my friend Linda and I had. Revisiting her thoughts helped me reframe what’s turned into an extremely long-term writing task I’ve been plugging away at for 13 years.

Seeing this yesterday made such an impression that I even woke up this morning of January 13th thinking about it. Hopefully you’ll find it of some encouragement, too, especially my friends who are in something for the long haul.

[This originally appeared as some pre-amble thoughts to my 2007 essay on “Dune, Density, and Polymathology.”]

In July 2001, I had a most intriguing conversation with my church planting strategist friend Linda Bergquist. She identified me and two other people we know in the San Francisco Bay Area as “Christian philosophers.” Linda felt the Church doesn’t particularly like philosophers, but she believed it still needs them. Specifically, she sensed these three people were being raised up to help the Church transition into what we then were calling the post-postmodern era. Ahh, how terms change over time!

Anyway, Linda told me how she’d recently read that Thomas Jefferson was offered all kinds of military commissions and other strategic jobs during the Revolutionary War. Instead of taking any of those opportunities, he went back home and worked diligently on the background for creating the American Constitution. He had confidence the Revolution would succeed, and so he was free to do the philosophizing that was necessary for the establishment of long-term goals and sustainability of this new union. As a “renaissance man” and philosopher, Jefferson trusted that his abilities matched this historic opportunity, and he knew where he should invest his time in order for a larger payoff in the long run.

Similarly, Linda was convinced that these three church planting philosophers in the Bay Area need to NOT feel pressured to be “The Theologian” or “The Practitioner,” but to invest in the most important roles they could play right now for the future of the Kingdom – research and development, and philosophy. This encouraged me then, and it remains comforting now, while I am still working on the same massive set of trainings in paradigm and cultural systems for growing Kingdom Culture. I am a polymath; I am called to be a philosopher; I am stewarding something important for the long run of the Kingdom. It requires complex thinking and dense communicating. So, regardless of what may be published during my lifetime, I know at a deep level that pouring myself out in these tasks will have paid off in the long run for what God is doing in His world. It is a privilege, within God’s providence, even when at times I feel wearied from and worried for this project …

Why was this encouraging? Because, as my professor friend Sam Williams put it when introducing me for a guest lecture on culture and contextualization, “Brad works on answers to questions that no one else is asking yet.” I didn’t know it at the time of this conversation with Linda, but where I’d end up investing myself was in working on how to identify, challenge, and change “systemic abuse.” I was doing R&D on this before I even knew there was a term for what I’d experienced. Malignant ministers and toxic churches had tainted 20 years of my Christian experience as an adult. Where would I find the redemptive side?

Turns out, this is a task I was made for, interested in, internally motivated to finish, and trusted it would have impact. If spiritual abuse had happened to me, surely there were others this writing would reach and make sense to, even if it just mystified others. It is really wearying at times, and feels Frodo-ish like this:

But it is not without purpose. So, if I’m “wired” as a “Christian philosopher” in the ways Linda is talking about, so be it. I’ve owned it, been doing it, will be sticking with it. I’m about halfway through this writing project that will total half a million words in four book/workbook volumes plus a companion website and case studies.

I know I may only realize a fraction of this project’s significance while I’m producing it. But still, it’s important to download what I can as a legacy for whoever might need it later. Who knows … maybe it’s just one person who deeply needs it. But we who follow Jesus know that even just one person can spark a movement.

I keep coming around to how important this is, to keep on keeping on, and find the internal motivation to continue even if external feedback is rare. Each piece I write adds to the composite of my ministry mosaic. And my mosaic is a piece in the larger picture that links mine with yours. Large and small, theoretical and practical – each personal piece matters, and each person-piece matters. We need to be diligent to contribute to the composited benefit of the larger community.

So – there it is. This isn’t really rocket science, although it is about what affects our trajectory, and adds to our legacy. Here’s hoping that this double-lucky 13th for me is an encouraging day for you, too!

Halloween 2018: CamoClashMan Strikes Again!

My perpetual Halloween costume: CamoClashMan.

For those who appreciate details: Blue Tiger-Stripe jacket, Savage Orange shirt, Rastaflage cargos, and Coffeeflage shoelaces.

Oh, and a Woodlandflage-colored shoelace serving as a keychain.

And make that CamoClashMan disguised as Rodin’s *The Thinker*. With spectacles.

CamoClashMan, circa 2006.

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

May Day 2018: If April Showers Bring May Flowers, What Do May Flowers Bring?

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viola flowers (c) Maksim Shebeko, Fotolia #112358669. Licensed to Brad Sargent.

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The old riddle goes, “If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”

The answer, of course, is: *Pilgrims!*

But where I grew up, May Day – May 1st – was when we delivered small baskets of flowers to neighbors who were older like the Neckstads and Mrs. Salmon and Mrs. Perry, our teachers from school and Sunday School, and family friends like the McCartneys and Vances and Olsens.

Sometimes we’d labor the whole week before to make the flowers and baskets ourselves. Our craft table would be strewn with construction paper and pipe cleaners and crayolas, scissors and tape and glue. Maybe the “basket” would actually be a sort of easy-to-make cone, for a cornucopia of construction paper flowers. Or it might be a more elaborate holder, woven from long strips of craft paper.

Sometimes we’d put a real live potted pansy or marigold in a basket we’d made, or curl a cone and fill it with a tied-up bunch of snipped-off violets or posies. Of course, getting real flowers meant a field trip to The Greenhouse …

It was only a few blocks away from us, at the end of the wide gravel road in front of our house. If the weather was nice enough, Mom would walk with all three of us kids the four blocks down at the end of our street. There at The Greenhouse, we’d each get to choose a small potted plant or two to give as May Day gifts.

And, oh! What a wondrous but mysterious place The Greenhouse was to me as a pre-schooler! It just felt magical, before I even had words to describe how and why. Now I know it was because it was a completely different world apart from all I was used to.

The quality of light was different, from steamed-up windows and frosted glass everywhere. And the cool, misty air from hoses and spray bottles and water drippers. And old wooden tables in really long rows, with all kinds of shelves and cans and bags and pots and plants on top and underneath them. And the most amazing fragrance – a mixture of shredded bark and sharp stemmy “green,” humid dirt but that’s not really mud, floral and citrus and bubblegum sweet. The entire place was a marvel: so much to look over, sniff at, dig into!

Over the years, different families operated The Greenhouse. But they all seemed to be people who were kind to us kids, and patient in helping us pick out our plants for May Day. After all, they offered so many choices – so many colors that only these greenhouse flowers seemed to have with bright yellows and oranges, blues and purples from light to deep, brick reds, magentas and maroons. How to choose when you have more flower colors than crayons?

But the people never seemed to be in a rush with us. It makes sense to me now. If you love plants and flowers, how can you not love people and their families?

And all this worked together to make May Day flowers after April showers one of the most special events of the year …

Happy 15th Blogging Anniversary, Blue Moon Easter, April Fools Day, Plus Really Good News Day!

Who knew, today would be the convergence of all these momentous events – a huge, bright, full moon (which I saw when I woke up at 3:30 a.m.) on Easter morning – and the anniversary of the beginning of my blogging career on April 1st of 2003.

I specifically chose April Fools Day as the milestone moment to take up blogging. It just seemed right, especially after all the talk of paradox at the Wabi Sabi gathering. That “postmodern” ministry event emphasized the juxtaposition of young and old, fresh and practiced, broken and redeemed. It was a natural metaphor for so much of what I end up writing about: finding a redemptive edge in the midst of suffering.

If you’d like to read that post from 2003, I reblogged it on my 10th blogaversary in 2013: “The Frodo Syndrome: Overcoming Grief and Melancholia in the Modern-to-Postmodern Transition.”

I was 47 years old when I took up blogging. For more about the friends who pushed me to stop the talk and start to write, it’s here: “My 10th Blogiversary on April Fools’ Day 2013 – No Joke!

I’ve been writing for over 30 years, but this season of 15 years blogging has taken me in other directions as I learned to process publicly what I was experiencing and reflecting about in real time. My main blogs – futuristguy and beyondposthuman before that – have tracked my transitions from “emerging” ministry to missional, and from church planting to social entrepreneurship. They’ve also logged my long slog toward producing a series of four books on deconstructing systemic abuse and (re)constructing healthy organizational enterprises.

I thought it would make for an intriguing exercise to list what I think have been the five most memorable or important writings from this period. Here’s what I came up with: (1) The Pyramid of Abuse. (2) The Transformational Index. (3) Four Kinds of Control Cultures. (4) Six “S” Factors for Organizational Success. (5) Distinguishing between Systemic Abuse and Systemic Oppression.

1. The Pyramid of Abuse (first version in 2014, most recent version 2018, as I keep on learning!) captured my understanding of the different roles used in organizations that benefit a few people at the expense of the many, and the main kinds of tactics used to “overlord people.” I’ve gotten more positive feedback on this than anything else I’ve written, probably because a huge number of people have been victimized by bullying, abuse, and violence. Most recent version (2018):

2. The Transformational Index, on which I was a co-author with Shannon Hopkins and Andy Schofield. This is a tool for “measuring what matters” in qualitative impact from social transformation work.

3. Four Kinds of Control Cultures explores social control by compliance, chaos, charisma, or competition. Most of these are illustrated in a series I did on The Hunger Games, applying Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of “totalist psychology” control cultures.

4. Six “S” for Organizational Success: (1) SAFE meeting ground that prevents a hostile work environment, (2) mission that is SUITABLE for the people actually involved as shareholders and stakeholders, (3) SCALE of operation that match the resources available in the setting, (4) SENSITIVE messaging that takes into account differences in processing due to learning styles and cultures, (5) methods that can SURVIVE global paradigm and cultural shifts that are beyond anyone’s control, and (6) SUSTAINABLE momentum for the organization to last beyond two generations.

5. The Pyramid of Abuse – “Layer 5” and Systemic Oppression. I haven’t posted on this yet, but have been doing the groundwork for years. The Pyramid of Abuse was about *insiders* in its system, while oppression involves *outsiders* from the Pyramid’s system. So, this is what helps understand dynamics where a system (such as oligarchy, patriarchy, racial segregation, or religious persecution) is rigged against large people groups and they are excluded from freedom and opportunity. I may post on this soon and if so, will add a link here.

Maybe you’ve found other things I’ve written that have been helpful or made an impression. If so, I’d love to know!

AND THE REALLY GOOD NEWS … it looks as if there’s FINALLY a go-live date for sales of Field Guide #1 in the Do Good Plus Do No Harm training series! If all goes well, the graphic design work will be done in June, with pre-sales starting shortly after, and sales website live in July. I hate that it’s taken so long to get this far, but I’ve done the best I could with no financial resources or stamina reserves to make it go any faster. Somehow, I suspect the timing will turn out providential. That just seems to be how the Lord often works …

Thanks for your encouragement along the way. And Happy Easter – He is risen!

Political Season 2016 ~ Post 5: “Evangelicalism” – 1940s, Now, and the Way Back Through the 1970s

A post by Tim Fall inspired me to write out this response to thoughts I’ve been having the past few months. His post was Evangelical: the label that left me behind.”

Evangelicalism’s Origins in the 1940s, and Key Characteristics

Tim Fall begins with a definition/description of “evangelical” that he got from the website of the National Association of Evangelicals (which was formed in the 1940s):

Historian David Bebbington also provides a helpful summary of evangelical distinctives, identifying four primary characteristics of evangelicalism:

  • Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a life long process of following Jesus
  • Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts
  • Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority
  • Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity

(What is an Evangelical?)

According to the About page on the website for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), “The National Association of Evangelicals has spoken as a united voice for millions of American evangelicals since 1942.” So, the NAE has lasted nearly 75 years. (See this page for more NAE history.)

The four points by Bebbington that Tim Fall noted really resonate with me, actually – when integrated, as a holistic set that sets the overall contours of “evangelicalism,” that is. But it’s become apparent to me and to many others that these are no longer interconnected, or kept in proportion with one another. I believe that’s why the term has been drained of its original intent and meaning. What were integral parts got separated and stagnated. Continue reading

Political Season 2016 ~ Post 4: “This is an opportunity to rise to the occasion, and not to the provocations.”

I woke up early this morning — 4:30 a.m. clock time (body is still adjusting and thinks it’s 5:30 a.m.). Just one thought ran clearly through my mind as I opened my eyes: “Blessed are the peacemakers. This is an opportunity to rise to the occasion, and not to the provocations.”

Certainly this year’s campaigns have brought to the surface myriads of social woundedness on all sides that are in need of healing balm and bandages — and not more contentiousness. We must address our fears about one another — the old splits that again surfaced showing those deep divisions based on race, gender, generation, cultures, urban-suburban-rural, etc., have remained unhealed.

I still believe The Great Physician can best supply what we so intensively need. And this calls for us to embody hope, bind up the wounds, go deeper to the sources in attitudes that have fragmented us from one another. These are the peacemaking kinds of things we need so that *all*of us can move forward — together, with civility — if we are to avoid continuing contempt and uncivil wars of words. Continue reading