'Leadership Is Bunk'
What aspiring white-collar professional would put on their college or job application, "I'm a good follower!" Not many, because in the white-collar world, we're looking for leaders, for movers and shakers, for influencers, for people who can take charge and create new possibilities. We in the church are so enamored with leadership that we start saying things like "Everyone is a leader in some way." In which case, the word has lost all meaning.
This faddishness in church is exposed when we remember that the characteristic command of Jesus is that we follow him—and not seek after titles like "teacher" nor seek to exercise authority over others (Matt. 23:8-12).
Maybe instead of yet another seminar on "Seven Traits of Great Leaders," we should be offering retreats on "Seven Traits of Humble Followers." Instead of giving awards to students who "show the most leadership potential," we should give them to those who humbly serve others. But that probably wouldn't work, because those students would just turn down the award—or suggest someone else who might better deserve it.
These sarcastic thoughts were inspired by (and some stolen from) "Leadership is Bunk," which begins, "Enough already with leadership. What we need are some good followers."
Two Cheers for Hierarchies!
In another contrarian piece (not in tone but in theme), the author suggests there are limits to equality, a notion upon which most of us hope to build society. In fact, argues Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University, all societies naturally stratify, and it's a good thing they do. In short, we need hierarchies for society to function—which means, uh, that we need leaders. Oh well, I never promised to be consistent in this newsletter.
Murdering the Disabled
Here's some rather disturbing news that I, for one, was not aware of:
A disabled person is killed by a caregiver—usually a family member—at least every week. While individual stories sometimes splash sensationally across page and screen, there's a sense among activists that the broader context remains unknown or ignored. Worse, too, often those sensationalized stories perpetuate the idea that it's better to be dead than disabled, rewarding the killers with sympathetic profiles and understanding.
Not So 'Red in Tooth and Claw'
Apparently there is more to nature than vicious survival of the fittest, more than the story of death and predation:
Today, biology is beginning to restore the balance by uncovering stories of cooperation alongside those of competition. Pain and death may endure in the living world, but tenderness and care also permeate at every level. Every animal, plant, and microbe relies on relationships of mutual dependence, support, or even sacrifice.
A Piece of Paper Can Do Wonder
Here's a short clip with some incredible examples of origami. Who knew paper folding could be so cool?
Faith means that I look to Jesus Christ, that I subject myself to his verdict and cling to it, that in him and in virtue of his verdict, in spite of everything which is against me, I am not condemned but justified, not rejected but accepted, not outside but inside, although I cannot know anything for myself but the consciousness of my faith ("Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief"), my baptism and my profession. If I believe this for myself, it obviously means that I give myself into his hand with all that is against me and with all that I think I know positively of myself trusting, but genuinely into his hand.
—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV I page 699.
Grace and peace,
Friday, March 31, 2017
Murdering the Disabled