Yesterday I featured Professor Emeritus of Sociology (Leeds University) Zygmunt Bauman (born in Poland on the 19th November 1925).
One of the online interviews I drew attention to was No More Walls In Europe: Tear them down! In that interview Bauman drew attention to a speech delivered by Pope Francis to mark the conferral of the Charlemagne Prize (Friday 6th May 2016). Bauman highlighted Pope Francis’ “impeccable insights” Earlier on he commented that we “need to study, memorize, and do our best to draw practical conclusions from Pope Francis’ analysis”.
And so, after reading Bauman’s interview, I read Pope Francis’ speech, and it is indeed worthy of wider discussion and engagement. So, today, I want to highlight that speech, while at the same time belatedly marking the passing of Elie Wiesel, whom Pope Francis mentions in his speech.
I want to draw an explicit line between the three of them, juxtaposing each of their individual contributions upon that of the others, i.e. I want to create an ever widening and profoundly needed conversation between the living and the dead – these three, plus the many others of good will who have been, or are, committed to the tasks of construction, reformation, and renewal; those committed to the difficult and deep work of moving from what Pope Francis calls [the] “liquid” (economies – but it’s not just economics. Its every level of, discipline (all the constituent elements of a deeply humane and just society), and practice within the contemporary local, national, and international) to the “social”.
Here’s the concluding section of Pope Francis’ May 2016 speech (you will find the complete speech here):
“With mind and heart, with hope and without vain nostalgia, like a son who rediscovers in Mother Europe his roots of life and faith, I dream of a new European humanism, one that involves “a constant work of humanization” and calls for “memory, courage, [and] a sound and humane utopian vision”. I dream of a Europe that is young, still capable of being a mother: a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life. I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter. I dream of a Europe that is attentive to and concerned for the infirm and the elderly, lest they be simply set aside as useless. I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being. I dream of a Europe where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism, where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment. I dream of a Europe of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers, on birth rates more than rates of consumption. I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all. I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.”
While the focus of the Pope's speech is Europe, it could easily apply to the UK, USA, and indeed to us here in NZ.
Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel: Holocaust Survivor, writer, and Nobel Peace prizewinner died this month (2nd July 2016) at the age of 87.
Ed Catmull is the President of Pixar and Disney Animation. About leadership Ed Catmull writes:
"I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear."
"My job as a manager is to create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for the things that undermine it."
Via Chris Erdman (Excerpted from Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (pub. 2014)
Forbes review of the book here.
I picked up and am in the process of reading Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan, and published by TED (pub. 2015). It’s a book about culture change, a book that takes seriously the importance of social capital, the weakness of hierarchies, the physicality of thinking, and workplaces as complex systems.
While written for a business audience, it has much wider application and could be profitably read by church leaders, not for profits etc.
You can watch Heffernan deliver her latest TED talk (May 2015) below:
Steve Taylor is a friend, and we’ve interacted face-to-face, a good many times over the years; less so since he’s been in Australia.
We’re different personalities, but we’ve always gotten along well. I’ve followed his blog since it’s inception, and followed along with all the changes of focus and emphasis. I often reflect on those changes, both those in my own life and journey, and in Steve’s.
Neither of our blogs are the same as when we started out at very similar times – over 10-years ago… They’ve been built week-by-week and year-by-year.
My blog has changed as my journey, priorities, focus, and needs have changed. So has Steve’s. And because we’ve both regularly and consistently updated our blogs over that period, it’s always been interesting to me to reflect, longitudinally, on our respective journeys, the overlaps and the differences. Both blogs have consistently recorded facets of our respective journeys. Behind every marker is a story.
As I look back there are many and diverse markers of where we’ve each been; the uncharted terrain we’ve traversed as life has unfolded. I’m grateful for friends, for difference, for diverse journey’s, for emergence, convergence, and divergence.
Leading and facilitating change processes has always been one of Steve’s strengths and now Steve (and his family) face another transition, as they prepare to leave Australia and move back to New Zealand.
I was therefore interested, yesterday, to read his summation of the transition process that will be operating over the next few months at Uniting College. Adelaide.
You’ll find the post here. It’s well worth a read.
Communal or collaborative discernment and its practice is something I’ve long found fascinating. There’s much to be said for a collective approach, especially when we think of the complexity we face everyday, especially when we think of the sheer scale of data that is available to us today. How do we make decisions? How do we listen well? How do we work in healthy ways with difference and conflict? How do we bring discernment into business? Can we actually even bring the practices of discernment into business?
The following is an excerpt from an article on the paradigm out of which Pope Francis operates; a paradigm very different from the approach so many of us are very used to: somebody higher up in the hierarchy makes a decision and our task is to implement it. Tell us what to do and we will do it. So, the author of the article I’m referencing can write, “…The previous two Popes made decisions the rest of the Church was expected to implement…” It’s a truism, but its not just true of the Catholic Church.
Just prior to typing this I had been engaging with a documentary on economics; on the increasing disparity between the “haves” and the “have not’s” (for Kiwi readers, the documentary was in the very good Nigel Latta TV series Nigel Latta(see TV1 on demand, here). How do we make practical sense of the information we are given in a show like this? How do we engage widely (i.e. collectively), creatively, intelligently, imaginatively, courageously and passionately to the challenges of creating a different economic paradigm?
I need others to read the signs of the times. I know I don’t need sameness. I know I need to join with others, in all their richness and diversity, to wisely attend to my own micro-challenges and those of the wider macro-context, of which I am a part.
“…Discernment is necessary if one is going to read the signs of the times. It is no secret that the Catholic Church faces major problems that need to be assessed and responded to in an appropriate way. An appropriate response is not simply to change everything in order to “get with the times”. On the other hand an appropriate response may also not be simply reaffirming everything as it has been. A process of discernment should empower the Church to assess critically where things are and how, at this time, it could and should respond. Maybe change is necessary – maybe things need tweaking.
And, it is not unusual for there to be many different ideas and some ‘messiness’ when one does embark upon a process of communal discernment. This should not give rise to anxiety and defense – which leads to division – but rather a sense that there really is something that needs to be carefully discerned which is critical for the future.
[Pope] Francis has opted for a “Jesuit way of proceeding”. This is rooted in the teachings of St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits. To discern means to engage in a process of trying to discover the will or desire of God in a given situation. Discernment includes a time of reflection, prayer, talking, listening, some division, and even some debate so that different perspectives can emerge. At the opening of the recent Synod, the Pope asked all present to speak boldly and listen with openness – two key concepts in communal discernment…”
Recently I've been doing a lot of thinking around what leadership is, and the role of leadership. One consequence of that interest is that I’ve been doing some fascinating reading (and some listening) on the subject of a specifically Ignatian approach to leadership.
“Drawing on interviews with people who knew him as Father Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, Lowney [in this latest book] challenges assumptions about what it takes to be a great leader. In so doing, he reveals the “other-centered” leadership style of a man whose passion is to be with people rather than set apart. Lowney offers a stirring vision of leadership to which we can all aspire in our communities, churches, companies, and families.”
Joseph Tetlow SJ, himself a well regarded author, writes “Pope Francis by Chris Lowney is that rare and splendid work that leaves you keenly excited and spiritually moved. The writing is lucid, vivid, inviting, and rich. It’s a major achievement. I strongly recommend it to any Christian in a leadership role.”
ABC’s Encounter radio programme recently featured a fascinating introduction to Pope John XXIII
“…Pope John XXIII, the man who fifty years ago began driving the locomotive of Catholic Church reform by inaugurating the Second Vatican Council. But who was he? And how is his influence being felt in the Church and in secular society today?...”
“Eugene Peterson may be the most influential theological writer in the church today. Yet because most of his career has not been in academia there is not much critical engagement with his work. Here some of the finest scholar-pastors we have describe the way Peterson has inspired and infuriated on the way to (hopefully) more faithful pastorates.”
"For those who knew Eugene Peterson only through his idiomatically rendered Bible, The Message, his memoir, The Pastor, was a revelation. But only a partial one. For the full 360-degree refraction, read Pastoral Work . . . which collects the very lively thoughts of sixteen noted scholar-pastors addressing 'Pastor Pete's' influence on them and their calling."
—David Van Biema, former chief religion writer, Time magazine
"These engagements with Eugene Peterson will be valuable to anyone who cares about pastoral ministry. Like Peterson's own work, they are informed by long obedience and patient reflection, and they are refreshingly free of cant, hype, and prattle."
—John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture
"Here is a book that will deepen, challenge, inform, enrich, and renew ministry in just the same way and to just the same degree as the work of its subject, Eugene Peterson. Peterson's legacy will not finally be in the written word but in the reflective practice of his countless disciples, shaping communities in ways inspired by his words and example. To read this book is to feel encouraged, hopeful, and moved to prayer and service; and relieved to rediscover that one's ministry is not a lone quest but a shared joy."
—Sam Wells, Vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
You’ll find a PDF of the Introduction (and Contents page) 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…”
“…The Christian faith provides a ‘big story’ in which to locate my own, a
vision of life and a sense of meaning that transcends and enfolds everything. I
love it. Still, it doesn’t stop me getting routinely shipwrecked in a puddle of