Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Challenges for the church in song

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

“Fighting like the devil for the prince of peace” goes the song “Piece of Me” by David Wilcox which I just downloaded.  In the song, Wilcox talks about the “body of Christ being torn limb from limb,” unfortunately from within.

Here is a link to another song, called Little Fish which speaks sharply to the church’s involvement in politics.


Election maps

March 13, 2010 Leave a comment

A representation of the way the American vote went  in 2004 and 2008 using a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population. Interesting indeed

Here is a cartogram by county. “One way to improve the map and reveal more nuance in the vote is to use not just two colors, red and blue, but to use red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes”

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Why leaders go down

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Received the following in an email from Tim Irwin, trying to promote his book, Derailed. It looks to be worth reading. And no, he didn’t send me a free copy.  Not that I would mind! Here are the five stages to derailment as a leader:

Stage I: Failure of Self-Awareness

Derailed leaders manifest an acute lack of self-awareness. Knowing ourselves and our inner thoughts informs us of the needs, desires, hopes and moods of others that we might respond appropriately. It involves empathy, consideration and attentiveness to employees’ interests. Derailed leaders seem oblivious to how their behavior impacts others and the resulting failure to build a strong alignment alliance. They can’t see beyond their own understanding of their personal truth.

Stage II: Hubris: Pride before the Fall

Power provides one of the most revealing tests of a person’s character. While a failure of character manifests itself in many ways, arrogance stands as the most self-destructive. Just as humility seems to be at the epicenter of leadership effectiveness, arrogance is commonly at the root of a leader’s undoing. Arrogance is the “mother of all derailers.” The Boston Globe wrote, “Coakley’s arrogant assumption of victory was so strong that midway through the brief campaign season, she simply disappeared off the campaign trail for days.”

Arrogant leaders seem to eschew feedback that’s beneficial to any leader. They become “truth-starved.”

Stage III: Missed Early Warning Signals

Like the California train engineer who ignored blatant warning signals while texting, derailment signs are usually there, but not heeded. Otherwise-talented leaders don’t see the signals of subtle but persistent feedback about their inner state, or other’s diminishing confidence in them. Early warning signs should have jarred their attention to avoid the danger ahead. Instead, these distracted leaders barrel ahead toward the inevitable crash. Could Coakley’s election derailment have been prevented if she had paid earlier attention to the red flags?

Stage IV: Rationalization

When it finally becomes apparent that a leader is losing his or her constituents’ confidence, defenses are heightened. A siege mentality takes over, and the leader starts to rationalize. Stage IV insulates the leader from the information that could either fend off disaster or greatly limit the damage. The most damning consequence is that derailing leaders lie to themselves. Some may even believe, “I’m too important to fail.”

The derailing leader twists data to fit their world view. In an attempt to maintain psychological equilibrium, the derailing leader believes the lie, despite many warning signs.

Stage V: Derailment

What happened in the Massachusetts election seemed like a train wreck in slow motion. When Coakley aloofly rebuffed the idea of standing outside Fenway Park in the cold, shaking hands, we knew that she was bound to lose.

Understanding Haiti

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Why show mercy to our opponents (part 2)

February 4, 2010 Leave a comment

mystic place by marius grozea

God is “kind to the ungrateful and to the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36 ESV)

This post follows the one I started on Feb 3 2010.

John Fischer in his catch of the day for Feb 2, 2010, wrote about the lack of kindness and civility regarding the political issues of our day.  He says, as a result, “the hope for gentle debate and reaching a more complicated, but equitable consensus is unlikely.”

Most people would have no problem with his comments at this point.  But, then he writes that the church

“has taken sides along with everyone else and lost its authority to speak into the deeper levels of these issues. The gospel, which values every human being and every human being’s right to freedom, justice and equality has lost its middle ground. While the truth should be speaking into both sides, it is being heard only in one.”

man begging by vicedomini

While it is certainly okay and right to have a position on the various issues of our day, as Christians should we not, of all people, be able to reach across the barrier of whatever issue is being discussed, to value and love those who hold another, even opposite, position from our own?  Again, from Fischer,

“We must remember these are real people we are talking about—people who like us, need Jesus. Making an enemy of someone for whom Christ died is not consistent with the message of the gospel.

. . . We can represent the love of Jesus to everyone. And we can listen and learn even from those with whom we might disagree.”

The expression of mercy was important in the ministry of Jesus.  Twice (Mtt 9:13, 12:7) Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 in which we are told that it is better to show mercy than it is to offer a sacrifice. There at least five passages in which people beg for mercy before Jesus or God in the gospels.  Four of these are found in Matthew (9:27, 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31).  Luke also gives us the parable in which the tax collector cries out, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Needless to say, all who request mercy in these examples are shown mercy.

God seems to delight in showing mercy to people.  As He does so, He receives much glory. (Romans 11:32-36; 15:9)

Because of God’s mercy, we are to offer our bodies to him as living sacrifices.  We are to recognize that we have a ministry because of God has shown mercy to us (2 Cor 4:1). Our salvation comes because of the mercy (and grace) of God. (Eph 2:8-10, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3) It seems to be valuable for us to continually go back and remember that once we had not received mercy from God. (1 Pet 2:10)

If we say that we will show mercy to others when they beg for mercy, it would be helpful to read 1 Tim 1:13-14; which says that Paul experienced the mercy of God even when ignorant, in unbelief and while acting as a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man.  It might also be worthwhile to consider that God demonstrated his love and mercy to us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). I don’t know about you but I continue to desperately need the mercy of God every day (Heb 4:14-16). Interestingly enough, God’s wisdom is said to be full of mercy. (James 3:17)

To be honest, I don’t know all the ways that we are to show mercy and love to those who disagree with us, who are on the opposite side of political issues, to our enemies. But, I am pretty sure that we are to show them mercy and that we are to be the ones who initiate expressions of mercy.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Show respect by listening to them (even when they do not listen to us)
  2. Communicate love not hatred (even when they express hatred of us and our position)
  3. Be kind and tender hearted, assuming the best of others (see Eph 4 here)
  4. Avoid name calling (avoid being contentious, seasoning every word we speak with grace)
  5. Agree to disagree

If others can come up with more specific ideas from their context, I would appreciate the sharing of your ideas.

Why show mercy to our opponents (part 1)

February 3, 2010 1 comment

It may be helpful for you to know that the impetus for this post comes out of discussions I have had on political issues with friends and watching/reading the news. I admit to being a Republican and of my  disagreement with a lot (if not most) of what our President has been doing.  However, I have been uncomfortable with what I have been hearing coming from the mouths of evangelicals about the political scene today. So, when I read a post by John Fischer this morning based on Luke 6:32-36, I started to write.

Surprise, surprise! Each time I read that God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” in Luke 6:36 I am aware how much the church (and I am including myself here!) does not appear to practice this.  Actually, Jesus does not tell us that we are to be like God in this respect.  However, he does tell us to love our enemies, do good to our enemies and lend to our enemies without expecting to get anything back

in return.  Hmmm, maybe this is being kind to the ungrateful and wicked?

What Jesus does tell us here in Luke 6:36 is that we are to “be merciful just as Your Father (in Heaven) is merciful.”  The word here oiktirmon is an adjective and is found only in James 5:11 where James is trying to encourage perseverance for those experiencing suffering and says “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”   From hileos and eleos (other words for merciful), Jesus tells us that the merciful are blessed because they will be shown mercy (Mtt 5:7), we learn that Jesus is a faithful and merciful high priest (Heb 2:17) and are warned that we will experience a judgment without mercy if we have failed to be merciful ourselves (James 2:12).  Read Matthew 18:23-35 for a sobering parable about someone who failed to show mercy and forgiveness after having experienced it themselves.

Waiting for mercy in the old city by Baruch

Most interesting is in Jude in which we are commanded to “Be merciful to those who doubt.”  That kind of makes sense since in 1:22, we are told to “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  And regarding the false prophets, Jude writes in verse 23, “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”  Jude is not saying to agree with these people nor even to condone their behavior but he is telling us to be merciful.  Why?  Because God has been merciful to us!

So, if we are to show mercy to our enemies, what about those on the opposite side of a political issue than us? If you think that does not sound fair or wise, I suggest you read the parable in Matthew 20:1-16. God seems to anticipate that some may not like the idea of his showing mercy to certain people and so he states in Romans 9:15-18, “I will show mercy to those to whom I want to show mercy.” Please take up any issues on this with God!


Narcissistic Leaders

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Mark Steyn writes about the narcissism of President Obama and the aftermath of his UN speech in which he preceded another President. Wonder what he wrote after Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize?

Looking forward to a lecture and discussion on narcissistic leaders later in the week.  Will write more then!