Archive for September, 2008

Israelis for Obama & The Market & Etc…

Okay, so I have some real posts coming this week, but for now I just wanna say goodness gracious re: the Global Economy. I’ll try and have some right proper futurist-like thoughts together later – for now read Kevin’s rant. (As well as a futurist-like reply to Tripp Fuller’s gambit!) Also anticipate some house church/emerging church thoughts, and if I can get around to it the apparent un-popularity of the term ’emerging/ent’ these days. Oh yes! And thoughts from Transmillennial 2008!

For now, check out this video, Israelis for Obama…

Skill Sets for Futurists?

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I want to blog a bit about Transmillennial 2008, but until then I want to share something I’ve been working on concerning the skills that those engaged in Strategic Foresight should tend and cultivate.

Breadth

A Futurist needs a broad-base of interests, including science & technology, history, anthropology, art & literature, pop culture, faith & religion, sociology, ecology, and more…the sky’s the limit! Without the seedbed of breadth, many things will pass us by in our data-collection phase.

Creativity

Though much of Futurist work is, indeed, quantitative research, creativity must be exercised in interpreting the results and indeed in what to even include in our environmental scanning. An eye for the odd and intuition can pay significant dividends.

Flexibility

Futurists in forecasting need to be flexible, in order to try out many scenarios and be willing to admit to mistakes in methodology. We’re all wrong, and the sooner we can bend to this, the sooner we can spring back again.

Integral/Systems Thinking

The ability to consider the Whole when examining any facet is crucial for Futures work. Non-linear, integral thinking is key. One of the chief insights that Futurists can practice in everything from scanning to forecasting to personal life is that reality is rarely simple cause-and-effect; we each contain systems, are systems, and are parts of systems—or, to put it another way, everything is comprised of holons. Making connections beyond the obvious is crucial for holistic scenarios development; we must transcend personal and/or external blame-games.

A Love for People

Futures work is not done in isolation. Working with teams, conducting original research, and relaying findings and suggestions to clients and/or the public is necessary for successful Futures work. While some of each of these processes are carried out alone (and indeed, not all forms or genres of Foresight work involves human beings), the human component is a lynchpin.

Strong Work Ethic

Futures work is interdisciplinary work, and at the heart of this is discipline. Because we’re always on the Bleeding Edge of the Possible (sorry to capitalize like a German, it just seemed Important), a strong work ethic is needed to help hold everything together. Practically speaking, this involves having good time management and research skills, as well as proficiency with various software programs. These fluencies provide the ‘invisible architecture’ of our work as Futurists.

Spiritual Center

Working with the dazzling and terrifying possibilities of the future is nerve-wracking work; a spiritual center is crucial. It is important to balance hindsight and foresight with the insights that we “are hidden with Christ in God” (Paul), “the Center does not move” (Buddha), and “take no heed for tomorrow” (Jesus). These are paradoxical realities for future-oriented professionals, but I believe they are needed for our balance and sanity. Of course, potential ontological realities need to be grounded, experienced and enjoyed in consistent spiritual practice or they are of little practical benefit.

Read ‘Holy Fools’!

I’m going to start doing more book reviews on this here blog. My first one is Holy Fools from NYC pastor Matthew Woodley.

Like many recent Christian releases, this book is memoir-ish; a trend I (generally, cautiously) welcome. After all, if you’re writing prescriptive ‘how to’ spiritual nonfiction, I want to see how it’s worked in your life and that of others. If it’s well-crafted, this is a bonus. Holy Fools does not disappoint.

Most friends and followers of Jesus yearn to live from God’s tantalizing grace. We want our lives to experience the blazing newness of being “in Christ.” Sadly, however, we often find our heart-senses dulled with a bland approach to spirituality and Christian community. From time to time, we all need a pneumatic wake up call.

This tome is written to provoke such an awakening; countering complacency and enlivening us to the path of the trickster, the holy fool – it looks at a consortium of wide-eyed, counter-cultural, God-passionate, and Spirit-drunk ne’er-do-wells pursuing a new lens for a new reality.

As Woodley puts it:

Nearly ten years ago, although my life was marked by all the trappings of “Christian” success and respectability, my faith had become bland, safe, and completely flat. God orchestrated the needed jolt and awakening to my spiritual life through some unlikely mentors: a band of ragged, adventurous, and “foolish” people—the Holy Fools.

As I encountered more and more ancient and contemporary holy fools, I realized that I had stumbled onto a wild and wide stream of Christian spirituality. This stream of “holy folly” offered me a taste of God’s unsettling and enticing grace. As I’ve walked with these holy fools over the past ten years, God has given me a new passion to love and serve Him.

“Holy folly” is Woodley’s ancient-fresh approach to spiritual life in Christ that he describes as combining “humor, irony, spiritual discipline, surprise, radical compassion, and passionate faith.” Holy fools challenge us with an unconventional and unsettling approach to journey and play in Holy Spirit. It’s about the unlikely heroes God uses to reawaken the church to follow Jesus and bring his love to the margins of society.Woodley shows us tangible things we can do to become more “foolish”, including contemplative prayer, plotting secret goodness and practicing everyday asceticism so we can discover what a people sold out for Jesus can really do.

The book is published by Salt River, Tyndale House’s more leading-edge imprint. The author is one of maybe three people in New York without a blog or personal website but his official bio is online here.

Holy Fools has been garnering quite the blogospheric acclaim. Check out a sampling:

On Journeying with those in Exile Part I and Part II

Man of Depravity Part I and Part II

Provocative Church

Jesus Fish Food

Watch the Church Basement Road Show – Complete!

In late July my friend Micah and I went out to the Raleigh stop of the Church Basement Road Show at New Community Church, featuring Mark Scandrette, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. I wish I had blogged about it then, but I didn’t. But the saints at Disciples Fellowship in Birmingham have made their stop available in its entirety! I think everyone should watch this unconventional, fun, Christ-centered evening – especially some friends of mine who weren’t able to see it in person. 🙂

Church Basement Roadshow from Steve Knight on Vimeo. (Does anyone know how to embed Vimeo videos in WordPress? I’ve tried this a gazillion times and nada. Lemme know in the comments…)

When you’re done watching this, mosey over to Rethink Christianity, this great new site Jossey-Bass set up for readers and participants wrestling with the questions brought up by the Roadshow and its presenters.

Frank Viola’s Lighter Side

…So: I’m one of the last people to interact with this today, I’m sure. But Frank Viola, recently a blogger, has started a podcast of sorts. Today he asks an interesting (if basic) question here regarding the sheer variety of readings of Scripture, and its consequences. Though he doesn’t always enable comments, they are open today.

Since Friday is almost over as of this posting, I’m going to paraphrase Frank’s question (it’s still worth listening to the 10-minute podcast) and my response.

Q: There are over 33,000 denominations today. Why would God allow the Bible be written in such a way that the most intelligent scholars and theologians (not to mention devout, heart-felt followers of Jesus) could honestly interpret the Bible in so many ways?

R: This used to bother me as a young Christian. Then when I actually started to read the Bible, including the disturbing stuff, it bothered me even more! So many authors, so many different takes on even the same events and people. And – perhaps most jarring – so many different takes on God. By the time I was in college, my life suddenly felt like a canvas on which the modernist-fundamentalist debate took place!

But then I realized that ‘inspiration’ need not mean ‘uniformity.’ Let’s face it – Scripture is ragged; it speaks with pluriform voices. It’s a symphony, and it’s in color – it’s not a black-and-white monotone speaking. It is literature, and within the raggedness we hear God speaking.

Why is this? For all the reasons people are mentioning above. Because we live by faith; because we receive more light as we live (and read) on; because revelation is unfolding; because culture, age, gender, and social standing contribute to our reading – and, perhaps most importantly, because God refuses to be enshrined in conceptual idols. This is why Meister Eckhart prayed “God, rid me of ‘God’.”

Even the site of divine self-disclosure in Jesus Christ reveals God as unknown, dwelling in inaccessible light.

During eras of certain interpretive grids – certain absolutist ways of reading – pluriform reading of Holy Writ was invariably a bad and divisive thing, something to be overcome. But the Jewish people have always had a wonderful tradition, Midrash, which acknowledged that because Scripture is alive, we always have something to contribute to its meaning. Just like Einstein and others discovered that the very act of scientific measurement affected what’s being measured, so our act of reading Scripture impacts its meaning. This isn’t something to be avoided; it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit to the interpretive community, the church. This is (some would say) part of what Jesus means when he gives us the holy responsibility to ‘bind and loose,’ earth’s readings impacting heaven.

I think we’re entering a fertile period of Christian spirituality; one where we recognize that we’re all at different stages of growth, and Jesus himself is the ultimate Truth – not a finite proposition. Some recommended reading on this: God Without Being by Jean-Luc Marion; What Would Jesus Deconstruct? by Jack Caputo; Overcoming Onto-Theology: Toward a Postmodern Christian Faith by Merold Westphal; Texts Under Negotiation by Walter Brueggemann; The Fidelity of Betrayal by Pete Rollins; and The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle.

The Radical (and Suppressed) Origins of Labor Day

The George Meany Memorial Archives

This Labor Day I’ve been thinking about how the American Empire has (beginning in 1882 and adding insult to injury in 2003) co opted a time for subversive direct action and turned it into a day of mindless barbecuing and Frisbee.

More on this here and here.


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  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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