len on July 14th, 2017

“Traditionally a journey was a rhythm of three forces: time, self and space. Now the digital virus has truncated time and space. Marooned on each instant, we have forfeited the practice of patience, the attention to emergence and delight in the Eros of discovery. The self has become anxious for what the next instant might bring.

“This greed for destination obliterates the journey. The digital desire for the single instant schools the mind in false priority. Each instant proclaims its own authority and the present image demands the complete attention of the eye. There is no sense of natural sequence where an image is allowed to emerge from its background and context when the time is right, the eye is worthy and the heart is appropriate. The mechanics of electronic imaging reverse the incarnation of real encounter.

“But a great journey requires plenty of time. It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning. There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself to the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes tin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.”

John O’Donohue, Beauty (27)

len on July 12th, 2017

“It is very difficult to give up certainty-these positions, beliefs, explanations define us and lie at the core of our personal identity. Certainty is a lens to interpret what’s going on and, as long as our explanations work, we feel a sense of stability and security. But in a changing world, certainty doesn’t give us stability; it actually creates more chaos. As we stay locked in our position and refuse to adapt and change, the things we hoped would stay together fall apart. It’s a traditional paradox expressed in many spiritual traditions: By holding on, we destroy what we hope to preserve; by letting go, we feel secure in accepting what is.

“The first step to becoming curious is to admit that I’m not succeeding in figuring things out alone. If my solutions don’t work as well as I’d like, if my explanations of why something happened don’t feel sufficient, I take these as signs that it’s time to begin asking others about what they see and think. I try to move past the lazy and superficial conversations where I pretend to agree with someone else rather than inquire seriously into their perspective. I try and become a conscious listener, actively listening for differences.

“There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This isn’t easy-I’m accustomed to sit there nodding my head as someone voices what I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more clearly, including my beliefs and assumptions.

“Noticing what surprises and disturbs me has been a very useful way to see invisible beliefs. If what you say surprises me, I must have been assuming something else was true. If what you say disturbs me, I must believe something contrary to you. My shock at your position exposes my own position. When I hear myself saying “How could anyone believe something like that?” a light comes on for me to see my own beliefs. These moments are great gifts.”

Meg Wheatley, “Partnering with Confusion and Uncertainty”

len on July 9th, 2017

“Given that people everywhere in the system are necessary to develop effective responses, a critical leadership role is to focus attention on developing the processes and relationships that support people coming together to develop solutions.” (When Complex Systems Fail)

Meg Wheatley is aware of field science. Vision is a field. Individually we see only a small bit at a time. When we come together and listen to one another we see much more broadly. Missing pieces appear. We begin to get a sense of the texture of the problem, and not merely its mechanism. We begin to see in color. While an individual lens of the hologram contains the entire image, the image does not appear in 3d until the lenses are combined.

This is a time when the fragmentation of the church works against us in ways we do not even grasp, since we are only beginning to perceive the problem. The isolation and pace of ministry, the division of ministry into classes of lay and professional — all these things work against our listening and seeing together. This failure to live out the reality of an interpretive community greatly weakens us. We need to develop processes that support interconnection beyond our comfortable boundaries. We need to reach out.. right out to the margins.. to bring in a greater diversity of voices. This is critical in our moving forward with the gospel in this culture. Read the rest of this entry »

len on July 3rd, 2017

In 2007 David Fitch offered an overview of the work that Mark Lau Branson is doing around appreciative enquiry. Alan Roxburgh likewise applauded the benefits of using”appreciative enquiry” in local congregations as part a transformation process. Alan suggested AI as a tool which enabled people to be “listened into speech.”

Mark’s book is Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change. After an afternoon reflecting on the potential of narrative therapy as a healing process, and making the further connection to memory, and hope, and salutogenesis – I was ready for some further reflection on processes of communal healing and growth.

Here’s what David wrote:

“Mark Lau Branson presented a workshop where he talked about the work of leading transformation in congregations. It described the contrast between typical church “problem solving”, (i.e. go into a church, study the problems, talk solutions and then propose a plan to implement solutions) – and Appreciative Inquiry — asking questions about where God has been at work and then stoking the imagination as to how to further participate in these ways as a body. He called the latter interpretive leadership. He said the deadest churches he had been had still been places where God had been wonderfully at work, but there were no witnesses. Read the rest of this entry »

len on June 5th, 2017

Why are there so many fewer imaginative resources dedicated to the feast of Pentecost as opposed to Christmas and Easter? My guess is that its partly that our cultural context (primarily commercial) supports the latter two, and so the church finds it simpler to engage them in response.

I also wonder if Pentecost has been so “owned” by the tribe and label that it has been Christianly politicized to an extent that the remainder of evangelicalism has avoided it. So here’s the bigger question —

How do we begin to engage in the same rich theological reflection that we dedicate to our other high days? How do we learn to live in the reality of Pentecost as thoroughly as we do in the reality of incarnation and resurrection? How do we let Pentecost form our faith and practice to the same degree?

len on June 5th, 2017

len on May 20th, 2017

len on April 15th, 2017

Cast from sleep on the edge of a March dawn
(Brain as empty as a beach
The arch above our bed dark as the firmament)
We lie and listen to the birds
Seeking in the garden outside the glass:
“Light, Light, who let there be light ?”
“We are glad for the light and the worms in the grass/’
But it was only we who heard their chirp as words:
Their praise was wordless as their wonderment;
Our task was still like Eve’s and Adam’s all day long
To speak the light of language to the universe.

The late light flakes blown by the dawn wind
In the garden are stars of ice and air and sparkle
In the dark-branched shrub of my lung.
In alveolar lace there iron rusts and rushes
Blood-borne to my body’s billion fires
Whose fuel is the heavy ash of stars,
Scattered from the novae of their pyres:
Carbon, and the ferrous rust that pushes
Wordless blood to my unbound tongue
To praise: that the God of the cosmos
Let the heavens come to speech in me.

Pouring from the west the sea-wind batters the town,
Strews branches like the wrack of tides
And warms the land with sea-smell.
The sea beats louder through the salt of my blood,
Whispers in my pink bones basinning basalt.
O You who wove me in the depths of earth and ocean,
Who at the birth of light and stars foresaw the far result
Of the wind of your spirit quickening my mud:
Let deeps of sea and continent rise up in me and tell
That the whispering in the earthquake and the surf
Is the shout of your life in we who are water and dust.

Standing on the thrusting grass by the choked pear-tree
The gnarled gardener is older than the trunk he tends.
The tendrils of the weed he strips from the limb
Have wrapped round both its twigs and his
And link the laddered acid of his seed
Back down to planet and to plant.
His fingers tend the garden’s need:
Yet the transpired breath of the garden is
The respired breath of his work, which is the hymn
Of his soul and the grown voice of the soil rejoicing:
That dropped and rotting seeds may blossom yet from the dirt.

Now in the darkening afternoon
The animals watch from the garden’s verge,
Shaped like versions of myself in the forests
of my sleep (Though I wake to kill them and eat).
Caught by their horns in our thickets they thresh
To escape us, the birds and the beasts.
And still through the ripped veils of their flesh
We enter with trampling feet
The violent sanctum of our unkept Keep:
And no slain lamb or ram nor any blood of bull
or dove Can give back the peace of our lost first task.

Image of God, we say, and image of the world:
Eve, sorrowing, and blest-for-all-of-mankind, Mary
(Ruth-like in the fields, hopeful in the reaped wheat
To glean the grace of her promised pain),
And Jesus, like a mother at the town’s dark side
Stretched with pain of making, and of making Man,
Who taught us how to be crucified
(We who would rather be slayers than slain);
He whom the Magdalene only could greet
At first as the gardener: Exactly the image of God—
Christ, who returned us the gardener’s task.

Creation waits now for the gardener to speak:
And the eager weeds await their release
From the bondage of being weeds.
Eden and Zion lie far apart
But atom and ocean, beasts and plants
Wait for the one who will grant them peace.
Then the planet will spin in a sabbath dance
(And the dancing place will be the heart).
Fruit will burgeon from scattered seeds
And garden and town be clean as a fleece
Early in the morning, on the first day of the week.

Loren Wilkinson
The Reformed Journal, no 4 Ap 1987, 10. 37.

len on April 14th, 2017

“If heaven and earth are already joined in the ascension, with part of “earth” — the human body of Jesus — now fully and thoroughly at home in “heaven,” then they are joined again in the opposite direction, as it were, in Acts 2, when the powerful wind of the divine Spirit comes upon the disciples. This is one of the New Testament equivalents of the tabernacle with the cloud and fire or of Solomon’s Temple with the glorious shekinah.” Wright, 162

“We have Platonized our eschatology (substituting “souls going to heaven” for the promised new creation) and have therefor moralized our Anthropology (substituting qualifying examination of moral performance for the biblical notion of the human vocation), with the result that we have paganized our soteriology, our understanding of “salvation”(substituting the idea of “God killing Jesus to satisfy his wrath” for the genuinely biblical notions…” Wright, 147

Both citations from The Day The Revolution Began, 2016

len on March 17th, 2017

People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete—
the things that should have worked but did not, the things that
once were productive and no longer are. ~ Peter Drucker

Management expertise has become the creation and control of
constants, uniformity, and efficiency, while the need has become
the understanding and coordination of variability, complexity, and
effectiveness. ~ Dee Hock