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Thinking Required

If you are a thinker, someone willing to really challenge yourself and think, I urge you to watch the following movie. perhaps schedule it for a later time. Please keep reading below the video player.

Now, follow Dr. Caroline Crocker’s work at the American Institute for Technology and Science Education (http://www.americaninstitutetechnologyscienceeducation.com/). You may be unsettled, shocked, and almost certainly alarmed. If so, I believe that would be good. Perhaps we need a jolt.

D.V. on Thursday, June 14, 2012 I will have the privilege of interviewing Dr. Crocker for my podcast “Provoked to Newness” (www.provokedtonewness.com). The associated episodes will ‘go live’ some weeks later. Become involved in this dialog, especially if you are academically oriented or interested in science.

In II Corinthians 10:5, Holy Scripture exhorts us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” And in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” These are holy and mysterious words; yet true.

In my opinion, for all who are capable, to ignore the subject of this film or Caroline’s work is to be negligent in an urgent time and a needy world. And, as a Canadian I see no reason to limit the scope of this content to America although that is generally the characterization in this film. No nation or person is exempt from the consequences of this situation.

Ancient Ways in Chaparral

One of the wonderful things about the Internet is how you can stumble upon the most beautiful and significant expressions of grace when you aren’t expecting it.  (I think I’ve shared this before… remember Mark Lau Branson’s definition of grace? “God’s still at work!”).

Today as I was searching the web for ‘ancient ways’, I came across a community of Christ-followers in New Mexico. I hadn’t heard of them before. Yet as I read through their website I came face-to-face in cyberspace (if that’s possible) with a community that really, truly believes “God’s still at work!” Here are some of God’s people who don’t think they’re the center of the world, yet know with certainty that they’re definitely part of the most important thing that’s happening in the world.

Meet Desert Rain Community in Chaparral, New Mexico. Let me encourage you to go now to their website with a cup of hot coffee in hand and settle in to meet a rare community; get ready to reflect more than a bit about the Triune God of grace. Before you go to their site, consider:

  1. Their URL – in a world of “we’ve got what you want… come on over here” these folks went down the ancient path and hit the nail on the head… just look at their URL (http://www.theruined.com/Default.aspx).
    • Now, don’t you want to know more about people who identify themselves as “theruined”? I did!
  2. Just consider how they speak of their Mission:
    • We aim to become a community defined by the presence of Jesus Christ. We aim to take this journey by seeking after and seeking to become a people who are:
      • The poor in spirit who need God desperately – aware or unaware.
      • The sad and mournful who enter into the suffering of others.
      • The meek who live in simple contentedness in this world.
      • Those who hunger and thirst for authenticity because we are the ruined.
      • The merciful because Christ has forgiven us of so much.
      • The pure in heart, who are childlike and dare to imagine.
      • The peacemakers who serve as soul friends in an unfriendly world.
      • Those who are persecuted for being fools of and for God.
  3. Now, if this hasn’t piqued your interest enough to browse their entire website, stop and at least read every word on http://www.theruined.com/TheRuined/Default.aspx.

I don’t know about you. Reading about these people, ‘listening to their story, and sensing their heartbeat makes me want to visit Chaparral, New Mexico – and to be more attentive to living out these perspectives wherever I may be.

Bless you David and all within the Desert Rain Community for being a wonderful witness to the world and a great example to the Church.

Sanctus School for Worshippers

Early in the last decade, I met a guy who looked much younger than his years. I soon discovered his appearance belied deep thinking about Christian faith that were well beyond his years.

I instantly liked his easy-going, laid-back behavior. It was a pleasure just to be around him. I detected uncommon legitimacy and transparency in this extraordinarily gifted servant. I admired his commitment to excel and imagine something more, something different, something better… a desire to pursue a God-inspired dream.

Now, I’d like you to meet Dave Pedde via YouTube; to hear about the extraordinary dream that God laid on Dave’s heart many years ago.

SANCTUS SCHOOL FOR WORSHIPPERS is a two-year accredited post-secondary Christian college that prepares students in areas of Christian character and spiritual grounding as a preparatory step to specific vocational training. Take the next few minutes to be inspired about a unique contribution in the Kingdom of God, a change inspired by God and led by a unique guy and a good friend.

 

For more information visit http://www.sanctusschool.com.

More from Heylighen

In my January 25, 2011 posting, I quoted Francis Heylighen regarding the complexity of complexity.

Then, I committed to pass along some further insights on complexity from this Belgian cyberneticist (i.e., someone who specializes in the science of communication and control theory that is concerned with such things as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems).

Admittedly, this is pretty heady stuff. Yet, given that change is itself a complex subject and that the increasing complexity of the world around us has a direct impact on any serious examination of change, it’s worth pausing a moment to consider this challenge of increasing complexity in our world.

Heylighen notes…

…concrete observations in diverse domains seem to confirm in ever more detail the intuitive notion of increasing complexity….Once we reach the level of culture, the general growth of complexity again becomes more obvious…human history is characterized by an ever more quickly accumulating body of culture, science, technology, and socio-economic organization. Though the speed at which this happens may not have been noticeable in ancient civilisations, it has increased to such a degree that in our present “age of information” few people would dare to deny the observation that the world becomes more complex every year. (*see below)

In a nutshell (if you can place a notion about complexity in a nutshell)… When we try to make sense of things in almost any field (e.g., in culture, science, technology, and socio-economics), evidence suggests whatever complexity existed in past time is overshadowed by the levels of invariably experience in each successive year.

Now, in our context, we may ask, “Does this concern God?” And, “How does God want us to respond to growing complexity?” These questions will be the focus of my next few postings.

* Francis Heylighen, “The Growth of Structural and Functional Complexity During Evolution,” 1996, http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/ComplexityGrowth.html.

Complexity Gets Complex

This change storm would be tough enough if the volume of change and the pace of change was all that was thrown at us. But, we must also deal with an ever-increasing level of complexity regarding what changes and how things are being changes. Curiously, change’s complexity draws it some of its potency from the volume and pace of change.

The third dimension in this Perfect Storm, complexity, increases the change storm’s power exponentially – literally. The complexity of change is escalating. The forces that contribute to change are more complex. What is being changed is increasingly complex. In other words, complex forces are being exerted on complex elements. The result is an exponential increase in the complexity of change.

Francis Heylighen, a Belgian cyberneticist, comments on the complexity of complexity:

…complexity is itself a complex concept: difficult to define and to model, and easy to misinterpret. To a certain extent, complexity is in the eye of the beholder: what is complex for one observer may be simple for another one. (* see below)

More on complexity from Heylighen in my next posting.

* Francis Heylighen, “The Growth of Structural and Functional Complexity During Evolution,” 1996, http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/ComplexityGrowth.html.

Runaway Rate of Change

Even the least observant person can detected that the rate or speed of change has been gathering momentum like a runaway train. The pace will accelerate even further.

Change experts Esther Cameron and Mike Green (Making Sense of Change Management: A Complete Guide to the Models, Tools & Techniques of Organizational Change. London: Kogan Page Limited, 2004) state plainly, “The rate of change and discovery outpaces our individual ability to keep up with it.”

Author of WorldTrendsResearch and trend analyst, Van Wishard, shares similar concerns in an on-line article about the speed of change, entitled “Major Trends Reshaping the Global Context”. (http://www.worldtrendsresearch.com/major-trends.php/).

“Unhurried time is essential for natural growth. Yet speed, which is the forced compression of time, is increasingly necessary for the modern economy. Yet we have virtually no comprehension of how this will affect individual psychology, our social and institutional arrangements, or relations between nations. The 1999 Rudman-Hart report of The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century concluded that due to the epochal changes being brought by accelerating technology, ‘…we may not recognize many of the threats in our future’…”

Concern over the current volumes and pace of change that people must process is not limited to the secular realm. Cambridge Professor of Theology, Jeremy Begbie (Theology, Music and Time. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000) says the “rate of change and the sheer amount of information now available exceeds our capacity to process and respond.”

What’s the solution? Of course, turn to God. Yet, humanity must also turn away from its habitual longing for more things, its addictions to more titillating experiences, and its lemming-like rush to run from event to event leaving no time for contemplation or rest.

And ‘who is humanity’? ‘We have met the enemy and he is us’!

Visualized Context

Ensuring proper context requires us to:

1. Understand the times ourselves, so we discern our context accurately and objectively
2. Communicate the context to others – accurately, objectively, and truthfully.

Modifying or morphing context to better suit ourselves or others is deception. One type of deception is no better than another. Self-deception isn’t any less harmful than deception of others.

Providing we choose to take a comprehensive view of a topic, visual tools can help us avoid the deception trap of narrow context. Even complex issues surrender hidden understanding with the right visualization.

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” implies that a complex idea can be conveyed best with just a single image. When the picture in question is well chosen then, even the most complex data sets can be absorbed easily by even the simplest minds.

This statement isn’t a slight to those who prefer to keep things simple. Rather, the statement is a compliment to those people who can present complex content in a simple context called a picture.

In my October 4, 2010 blog posting on this site, I encouraged you to become acquainted with David McCandless, a remarkable expert in the field of visual communications. His site, Information is Beautiful: Ideas, issues, knowledge, data – visualized! (http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/) is remarkable for many reasons.

When I told David that I wanted to share some of his insights in Wisdom for a Change to: a) illustrate the need to communicate in compelling and coherent ways, and b) because the stories within his visual data maps are worthy stories that call for change, David’s reply was characteristically simple, “sure thing – go for it – thanks!” Of course, for anyone who chooses to understand, there are insights to be gleaned from David’s reply.

So, in the interests of achieving better context on our times and making the incredibly complex incredibly simple, from time to time I intend to post some of David McCandless’s findings about the times in which we live.

Data Visualization

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/about/ You may be familiar with David McCandless. McCandless is a thought leader in the area of distilling meaning from the multitude of data streams that compete for space and meaning in our minds.

In July 2010, McCandless was featured on www.ted.com, self-identified as “Ideas Worth Spreading: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”

I think you’ll find a presentation by McCandless thought-provoking.

http://bit.ly/9OlwMk

As thinking Christians we need to consider such sources of secular wisdom when contemplating the larger challenge of involving the present and future generations of “The Timeless Kingdom”.

McCandless’ talk should alert us to the need for change in the Church (capital ‘C’) regarding worship, evangelism, community, mission, and more. We have a great need to make the complex simple without dumbing down for the sake of comfort.

Moving our discussions and engagements with others, whether Christians or non-Christians, to higher ground necessitates knowing the ground in which engage the world for the unchanging purposes of the Triune God.

Quikthot: Eighth Letter

This blog focuses on change in the Christian context. On October 1st and 2nd in Toronto, Canada a team of young, emerging Christian leaders are hosting an event called Eighth Letter. You can read about it at http://eighthletter.com/ Or if you prefer to watch their clever commercial, click below…

 

I know a couple of the speakers; but most I don’t. Yet, Chris Lewis, one of the principals of the host ministry, Epiphaneia, is a great guy with big vision and a big heart. Chris was a cohort mate of our daughter’s at Eastern University where they did their grad degrees in International Development.

Eighth Letter. Prepare to be surprised, challenged, and refreshed. See you there.

Change & World Hunger

When I got out of bed this morning, feeling a little hungry, I went to a well-stocked kitchen and prepared something to eat. I suspect you did the same. But, for many people, the same can’t be said. They didn’t eat. They had no bed from which to rise.

This morning, the lead online article on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s website, addresses the travesty of world hunger. http://bit.ly/9o1VVI

There are many reasons, one of which is us! Marva Dawn writes, in her powerful book, Unfettered Hope: A Call to Faithful Living in an Affluent Society, (Westminster John Knox Press, 2003):

“Ending hunger would not be expensive relatively. Basic health and nutrition needs of the world’s poorest people could be met for an estimated $13 billion a year. U.S.ers [Dawn uses the handle to identify residents of only the United States, not including Native Americans) and Europeans spend more than that on pet food yearly.” (Source: United Nations Development Program).

Lest my fellow Canadians conclude we’re off the hook, consider this… the combined populations of the United States, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand (based on 2007 stats) are less than the population of Earth’s hungry and malnutritioned people as I write these words in 2010!

Marva Dawn, proceeded to say, “… we cannot really solve the problem of our world’s injustices by merely giving a little more of our surpluses to fight hunger. More deeply, we need to be freed from our reliance on material consumption to find happiness, especially because the wealthy countries of the world consume at a rate unsustainable by the earth.”

Marva underscored her point by quoting ecologist Bill Rees, from the University of British Columbia, who said, “in order to bring everyone on the planet to the same general level of consumption and well-being as the average Canadian, we would need four or five more Earths – right now!”

I am convinced many of the impediments to change which we touch upon in this blog, also desensitize us to the need for change in our world.

Jesus, the All-Sufficient Creator, watches. Can he be pleased? I am convicted by these realities. It’s time for change; and as is true of almost all change, change must begin with me.

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