Spiritual but not Religious

pexels-photo-257037In my experience the declaration that “I’m spiritual but not religious” is often greeted by a collective eye-roll in church circles.   For many of us affiliated with formal church or faith organizations, it can seem a ridiculous thing to say.

What we think we’re hearing is “I’m spiritual but not yet religious.”

Continue reading “Spiritual but not Religious”

The Three Beating Hearts of Maori Leadership

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“Haerenga” Painting by Daniel Ormsby

Since taking up my role as president of Episcopal Relief & Development over 13 years ago, many people have kindly sent me articles and books about leadership.  How is it recognized? How is it developed? What does it look like in a faith context? How can one be a non-anxious leader? You get the picture.

I read much of what was sent to me as I searched for my vision of how I want to be a leader.  After over 25 years serving in various leadership roles, I can’t say that I subscribe to one school or genre of leadership.  

So much depends on context and how one’s personal gifts and graces (or lack thereof) interact with circumstances and the people you are trying to lead.  I’m reminded of the quip about pornography—it doesn’t have a definition, but you sure know it when you see it.

Nonetheless I am always intrigued by new and interesting takes on leadership.

Continue reading “The Three Beating Hearts of Maori Leadership”

Light in a Very Dark Place

black-and-white-blur-book-164821We are now approaching the darkest days of the year.  Our Advent wreaths and Hanukkah menorahs have brought light into our lives.  It is an opportune time to reflect on how one can bring light to dark places.

Several months ago friends from out of town invited me to a benefit organized to support Musicambia.  I accepted because I wanted to spend time with these friends and this was going to be a good way to do it.

After a nice dinner getting caught up on family news, we made our way to the event.  We settled into our seats and I began to focus on Musicambia and its mission.

First up was Dexter.

Continue reading “Light in a Very Dark Place”

The beating heart of a home

Big Ben Inner Clock Face
By © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35619684

When my in-laws were downsizing out of their home in Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada and moving to an apartment, they very generously gave us a grandfather clock that stood in their front hall.  The clock was made in Halifax in Yorkshire, England, probably in the late 18th century and stands well over 9 feet tall.  

Fortunately our apartment in New York has high enough ceilings to accommodate it, and so my wife and I moved it into our living room.  We never got around to having the clock works cleaned and repaired, so the clock has stood mute for well over ten years. Continue reading “The beating heart of a home”

Interstellar Space

Living as I do in an urban environment, it is not usually possible to see many, if any, stars on a regular basis.  Fortunately, my work takes me off the beaten path to places where there is little ambient light to obscure the night sky.  

Most recently, I found myself in the desert of New Mexico at the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert on a silent retreat.  There, after the sun had set, the heavens blazed.

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Rumors of My Demise…

405px-MarkTwain.LOCMark Twain’s quip about reports of his death having been exaggerated is one of my favorites.  It might fairly be applied to this blog.

When I started the blog over a year ago, my intent had been to post once a week and, for the most part, I sustained that pace…until I couldn’t.  And so, towards the end of June, I lost momentum and stopped. Sometimes that happens.

I spent a good bit of the summer nagging myself to start writing again.  Nagging oneself—or anyone for that matter—isn’t really a strategy that inspires motivation.

But then a letter arrived in the mail…. Continue reading “Rumors of My Demise…”

How Democracies Die

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How Democracies Die
By Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Let me confess up front:  I have not yet read this book.  I’m screwing up my courage to do so.  However, I’ve heard just enough about it to be extremely concerned and intrigued.

The authors argue that in recent times authoritarian leaders have actually come to power through democratic processes.  The good old days of military coups seem to be a relic of the past.

Once in power, these leaders all share four common traits: Continue reading “How Democracies Die”

Juneteenth

Today, June 19th, marks the anniversary of the day Texas abolished slavery in 1865.  Several states, including Texas, recognize it. The Federal Government has also recognized “Juneteenth Independence Day,” although it is not an official Federal holiday.

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Perhaps of more consequence, Apple added Juneteenth to the list of official U.S. holidays this year.  I’m embarrassed to admit that while I had a vague sense of Juneteenth, it wasn’t until it popped up on my phone that I started to pay attention.

So I dug deeper… Continue reading “Juneteenth”