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


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!

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

Big Milestone – Entering My 10th Year of Blogging

Well, it’s April 1st, 2012, and I’m finally entering into my 10th year of blogging.

Who woulda guessed that some old guy like me would have blogged his way into the final year of an entire decade?

And yes, I did officially begin my first blog – beyondposthuman on blogspot, to be exact – on April Fool’s Day of 2003. [Yea, verily, make of that what thou willt.] At the insistence of my friends Andrew Jones and Shannon Hopkins, and with the encouragement and well-wishes of Austinian friends and co-WabiSabians, I did.

And now here I am, at least 300,000 words later (not all of ’em necessarily worth readin’), and this my 300th post on my WordPress futuristguy blog, but glad to have been on this journey.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Brother Maynard’s Post on “Institutions vs. Collaboration”

SUMMARY. A riff on a portion of Brother Maynard’s post about “Institutions vs. Collaboration,” in which he refers to the five stages (or layers) of grief identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I apply this framework to my observations of different types of leaders, especially in conventional/institutional models of church, who are in different frames of being in relation to facing the realities of organizational transition and the grieving that goes with it. I also suggest specific ways to help church leaders move toward acceptance of the death of the Traditional (Builder generation) and Pragmatic (Boomer) paradigms, and the transference of church legacy to those of Holistic (Buster and beyond) paradigms. The final section of the post offers a litmus test question to help leaders consider whether they truly are in acceptance mode about working on transition, or just enamored of the “idea” of transition. It ends with some powerful quotes on risk and relinquishment, from two cultural creative leaders in each of Western and tribal perspectives.

Continue reading