In this wide-ranging, thought-provoking 2009 TED talk, Kevin Kelly muses on what technology means in our lives -- from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos. I’ve been checking in on Kelly (founder of Wired magazine) for many years.
Today, the draft of an interview with Rowan Williams, centered on Teresa of Avila (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582 / Note – 500th Anniversary of her birth 28 March 2015) that will apparently be published in the May / June 2014 issue of Theology.
Here’s an excerpt. The interviewer is Kirsty Jane McLuskey (“KJM”):
“…KJM: This question comes with the benefit of hindsight because, of course, both were very marginalised and the majority of people at the time would not have come into contact with their spirituality. But mysticism is not something often mentioned in the way people talk about mainstream religion today. I wonder whether mystical experience is still possible, or whether we have pathologised the transcendental to the extent that a Teresa or a John could not express themselves at all in these days and be taken seriously?
RW: That’s quite a complicated question, really. People have certainly tried to pathologise Teresa, in particular, and she undoubtedly had some very strange experiences. At the same time, people do still have these experiences and are sometimes very frightened of talking about them, because they don’t want to be thought insane or disturbed. People look with a mixture of suspicion, respect and envy at those who claim some sort of connection with the transcendent, and don’t quite know what to do with it. There are two problems, I think, in our modern discourse about mysticism. One—I hinted at this, I suppose, in the book—is to identify mysticism with a whole succession of odd experiences; whereas I think that for Teresa, and certainly for John, the really stomach-churning, dramatic and bizarre experiences are just your entry into another level. It’s not that you go on having stomach-churning, bizarre experiences and mystical ecstasy right up to the end. The whole point is to get you to another kind of normality, almost. So the mistake now is often to see mysticism as just about ecstasy. People look at Bernini’s famous statue and think that’s mysticism, whereas Teresa, I think, would have taken a very dim view indeed of that statue, very dim. “That’s precisely not the point: of course I had these extraordinary experiences, and I wished at the time I wasn’t having them, but eventually what it permitted me to do was to wash the dishes mindfully and prayerfully.” She more or less says that.
Now the other error, I think, is the old chestnut about spirituality and religion: “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.” A statement which drives me to distraction, as you can imagine, because there the spiritual becomes something very private, very interior, which doesn’t really threaten anybody very much and doesn’t do what people like Teresa are doing, which is to put a sharp question from the margin. To say, well, if you’re serious about being spiritual, you live differently: get used to it. Those two problems make these questions all the harder these days…”
Also, see also Williams’ lecture (46 mins), as part of the Legatum Institute's current Salon Series, 'Prosperity on the Edge: 1913-14 The Last Year of Peace'. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a lecture on historian Adolf von Harnack's influence at the time, as well as the way in which post-war thought was shaped by the reaction against his kind of liberal religion. It was delivered in Jan. 2014 and was titled: “The Deadly Simplicities of Adolf von Harnack – Liberal Theology in Germany on the Eve of the Great War”.
Audio (+ downloadable podcast via iTunes) and transcript are available here.
I’m always interested in ways of seeing my country; new ways of engaging its culture(s), mythology and symbols, history, art and creativity, poetry, dreams, ways of understanding what it means to be a New Zealander, landscape, people etc. I value the mirror that is held up to me by others experiences and ways of seeing. One of the first collections of essays I read from this standpoint was. In the Autumn 2008 issue of Landfall (215) titled “Waiting for Godzone” (featuring essays by the likes of Mike Grimshaw / Paul Morris). Theologically, journals like Pacifica have featured collections of essays written by New Zealanders (or from with a New Zealand perspective). Most recently – this month – another collection has been published
“Griffith REVIEW 43: Pacific Highways[With its great cover feature the Bill Hammond work “Watching for Buller”] [retailing for NZD$35 at selected bookshops, cf. Poppies in Hamilton, NZ], co-edited by Julianne Schultz and acclaimed New Zealand author Lloyd Jones, examines the shifting tides in New Zealand through a heady mix of essay, memoir, fiction and poetry by some of New Zealand's most exciting and innovative writers. Pacific Highways explores New Zealand's position as a hub between the Pacific, Tasman and Southern oceans, and examines the exchange of people and culture, points of resistance and overlap.
How New Zealand adapts to recent profound changes and moves forward is a matter of urgent consideration. The country's economic model is generating escalating environmental and cultural strains, but also presents great opportunities. A recent worldwide survey found the NZ education system is one of the worst at overcoming economic and social disadvantage. Auckland is home to more than a third of the (increasingly diverse) population, presenting challenges and opportunities for the whole country. Christchurch is finding inspiring new ways of reinvention. Pacific Highways asks what can be learnt, and what lessons does New Zealand offer the world?
New Zealand celebrates its unique cultural heritage, but with multiculturalism comes questions of identity, which many of the writers in Pacific Highways explore. Who decides who is a 'New Zealander'? How are Chinese immigrants accepted? Who are you if you are brought up with the strict codes and behavioural norms of your parents' country but live in another? Does immigration offer the capacity for reinvention?
New Zealand is an island nation, and oceans and rivers imbue Pacific identities. They run paths through major cities and offer courseways for stories. From migrating eels to tasty sea grapes, castaway sailors to volcanic rafts, waterways flow through the essays and stories of Pacific Highways.
Pacific Highways also celebrates the art and literature of New Zealand looking at the country's wealth of artistic and literary talent in critical essays, and includes short stories [and a couple of photo essays] and poetry by many of New Zealand's best writers, from many backgrounds…”
Today a fascinating and all too short conversation with one of my favourite film directors on the subject of peace and perception. Many of the themes are applicable on both a national / global and also at the relational and interpersonal level.
“Ten years ago Wim Wenders began a conversation with Mary Zournazi on war and peace. Drawing on philosophy, art and cinema their dialogue evolved into a sustained meditation on perception in a world of rapidly multiplying images. We join the philosopher and the filmmaker on their quest to make peace visible. Can anadequate moral and visual language for peace be defined in the clamour of the times?”
'Reading this book brings a sense of enormous privilege – the privilege of overhearing a conversation between two voices of profound seriousness and imagination. The peace they talk about is neither a matter of problem-solving nor a dream of immobile quiet; it is the remaking of the world by patient looking, educated in compassion and self-awareness. We learn something essential of what art is (not least the art of the film-maker) and of how it is the necessary nourishment for a humane public life.'
Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury.
You’ll find the downloadable December 2013 conversation here.
“…Modern society is plagued by fragmentation. The various sectors of our communities--businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, and government - do not work together. They exist in their own worlds. As do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together. We know what healthy communities look like--there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation: How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.”
It’s this latter book that is the focus of a Sounds True conversation between Tami Simon and Peter Block.
“…How do we create organizations that work for everyone? What’s the true role of the person called “the boss?” How is the concept of business stewardship different from our traditional notions of leadership? Where can we find true freedom in the workplace? Peter Block is a bestselling author and business consultant who teaches about chosen accountability and the reconciliation of community. Tami Simon speaks with Peter about these questions and more in a business conversation unlike any you’ve heard.”
Here’s a couple of quotes strung together (a little bit of paraphrasing too):
“...Leadership is to initiate an alternative future. It’s an act on intention, an act of creativity…the task of leadership is to figure out the question we need to be asking and exploring together… The question is more powerful than the answer… A good question works on you…it opens space for other possibilities, for the unseen, and for alternative futures and possibilities…”
Happy New Year everyone. Today’s post is a link to a podcast – a Sounds True conversation between Tami Simon and Danielle LaPorte. I listened to it yesterday as I started to think about the year ahead – 2014. The conversation is titled: The Desire Map: Living in Alignment with Your Core Desired Feelings, and is a fascinating and timely conversation to help orientate the coming year around your “core desired feelings” – those feelings and desires that are most important to you. I always listen to talks like this critically…one ear on it, and one ear on the Jesus story; and the deeper questions around what it means to be fully human, alive, and free. I listen to the Christian tradition, to its wisdom. So, in this instance I ‘listened’ to Ignatius of Loyola – thought about his approach to working with desire; his use of the Examen etc. Both this talk and the Ignatian tradition offer help as we begin a new year, a year, like any other, filled with longing, hopes, desires, dreams etc.
“…In this episode, Tami speaks with Danielle about what the Desire Map is, how to create “goals with soul,” what we can learn from both our successes and the places we fell short of our goals when we do our year-end review, and how to navigate a relationship when our desires compete with another person.”
TS: Let’s just clarify what you mean by that—“core desired feelings.” What are those and how do I know what my core desired feelings are?
DL: Those are your preferred states of being. They’re not the fleeting emotions that you’re going to feel throughout the day. You’re going to feel 900 feelings throughout the day. These are a desired ways of feeling and being that have probably been with you for a very long time.”
I was recently, and appreciatively introduced to the work of educationalist and the first Innovation Education at the Harvard Technology and Entrepreneurship Centre, Tony Wagner.
One of my eclectic interests has long been education – thanks in no small part to Parker Palmer – his To Know As We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education and more recently, The Courage to Teach and The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal. While, with a focus specifically on theological education, I’ve found the James K A. Smith edited Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith & Learning (pub. 2011) offering some useful insights. A lot of cross-pollination can occur. Tony Wagner’s insights could be interacted with within the field of theological education, and vice-versa with some of the leading work around theological and discipleship formation.
The introduction to Wagner both affirmed and enlivened my sense of some of the important realities, outcomes, and competencies education needs to grapple with. Specifically, following research he lists a set of core competencies that he believes young people need to have in the 21st Century:
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.
Agility and Adaptability
Initiative and Entrepreneurship
Effective oral and written communication competencies
“…Jesse [Pinkman] is by far the most tragic character in Breaking Bad. The initial projection of youthful overconfidence and independence gives way to a lost boy desperately in need of the father-figure that has been sorely absent in his turbulent life. At different stages of the plot, he comes to see Walt and Mike as paternal figures, but it's his persistent reference to Walt as Mr. White that gives an indication of the perverse and manipulative relationship between the two. It is no coincidence that the character that seems most troubled with the morality of his actions is also the character that has long eschewed the façade of masculinity. Jesse is also one of the few male characters that seems willing to discuss his feelings and not act with the apparent indifference or stoicism of which Hank and Walt are both guilty…”
The 24th March 2011 was author, artist and Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 92nd birthday. He’s long been one of my favourite poets. I’ve picked up collections of poetry from around the world as I’ve travelled.
This poetry reading is from April 2007, when he previewed selections from Poetry as Insurgent Art. The duration is 42 minutes, and we also get a brief excerpt from a conversation with author Kurt Vonnegut.
You’ll find the downloadable podcast here.
Also an Youtube interview with him.