So I’ve been dragged back into blogging for a little, but some of these thoughts have been percolating for some time now. Yesterday while I was writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as it relates to the Tony Jones situation with his divorce and the Emergent Village leadership at the time, Kathy Escobar was writing a thing or two about narcissism (+ church). Kathy is someone whose blog I used to really enjoy back when I was regularly reading emerging/missional blogs, and I’m so glad to see she’s still blogging — especially given the insight she’s shared about NPD.
Bless me reader, for I have sinned. It’s been 202 days since my last post. And what does it take to get me to stick my nose back into this conversation? Disgust, naturally, and something of a rant. A disgusted rant.
…which for some may include a bathrobe in their parents’ basement. Or something like that. The Nines is a live-streamed series of 9-minute presentations today, 09/09/09. (Free, organized by Leadership Network and Catalyst.) I heard about this from Bill Kinnon and Andrew Jones, and have had it on in the background for a little while now. Missed Skye Jethani’s presentation, which Bill says was good, but caught Reggie McNeal and Len Sweet. Some of the presentations are… less good, ranging from same-old, same-old to really insightful, but overall a good undertaking and most have a good tidbit to offer up. For example, Teresa McBean just said that churches/leaders need to challenge their assumptions. Right on… but if you don’t like one of the presentations, just wait nine minutes and there’ll be another. Also see the running commentary on Twittter.
I love the TED site and the many Talks thereon. (I’d love to attend the conference someday.) Today I gave a listen to Barry Schwartz‘ talk titled “The real crisis? We stopped being wise.” I’m all about wisdom. Not that I necessarily have any, I just know how important it is, and how difficult it is to attain. I enjoy the book of Proverbs for this reason as well, in the hope that I might glean something to help my pursuit of wisdom. That could be why I enjoyed this talk… or it could be because I’ve never been much for rules and incentives, which Schwartz also tackles, suggesting that they can tend to work against the cultivation of wisdom. Considering the workings of legalism in institutional/hierarchical structures, I’d have to say that he’s onto something.
Here’s a sampling:
Jonny Baker has some good thoughts on the gift of not fitting in, which is an interesting turn of phrase of itself. And as anyone who has this particular “gift” will know, it often feels more like a curse than a gift. This “not fitting in” describes more than simply those who are “different,” the non-conformists conspicuous for their external similarities. What makes these people not fit in is far more fundamental — it’s a way of thinking, an outlook. The thing that makes them not fit is that they look at things as everyone accepts them to be, and they not only ask why they are this way, but why everyone accepts them to be this way. In asking the question and beginning to imagine an answer, they begin to imagine an alternative, and to see a way to change. Sometimes they even begin living according to the alternative way, clashing in the process with the accepted way of things.
Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,
I recently finished Scot McKnight’s latest release, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. I have a habit of noticing ideas and examples that may be tangental to the author’s point but which I still make a point of applying in a slightly different context — as I did yesterday. And here comes another one, on authority.
Maybe another analogy will point us in the right direction. My relationship to the president and provost and dean of my university, North Park University, might be called a relationship of authority. David Parkyn, our president, Joseph Jones, our provost, and Charles Peterson, our dean, are in one sense authority figures. They have more authority than I do–and they should have. Frankly, knowing the kind of life an administrator is called to live, I am quite happy to cede that authority to them. Actually, I’m not ceding anything to them. They are given authority by the board of trustees, and my responsibility is to acknowledge their authority. However you look at it, they have a kind of authority I don’t.