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The inescapably haunting ‘Calvary’

Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.

~Augustine

The quote, at first, is hopeful. But in the end, is teeming with unresolved tension. It is evocative, intentionally ambiguous.

Calvary, the recent Irish film from writer/director John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson as Father James Lavelle, opens with this quote from Augustine. (A quote, incidentally, that was also used by Samuel Beckett in Waiting for Godot.) And, indeed, the quote sets the stage for that which is to come. The film is anything but tidy. It is a whodunit, after all. The film begins with Father James receiving a confession. From whom, we’re not quite sure. The confession, in and of itself, is troubling, as the confessor tells Father James that he plans to kill him a week from Sunday.

The why is what really got my attention. The confessor has been abused at the hands of a priest. At first, one assumes that it is Father James who is the culprit. But we find out that the confessor intends to kill the Father because he’s done nothing wrong. That’s correct. In a world full of scandal, abuse, etc., Father James Lavelle is wholly innocent. It is at this moment that we are told why the confessor intends to murder the Father––’there’s no point in killing a bad priest, but killing a good one, that would be a shock now…wouldn’t know what to make of that.’ Read more

Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul (A Review)

Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul, by coauthors Dr. Richard Hawkins (a biblical scholar) and Dr. Richard Leslie Parrott (a professor of education), explores the foibles, faults and failures of King Saul. Following in the footsteps of Sydney Finkelstein, who successfully launched a new sub-category in leadership studies with his classes as Tuck School of Business and his wildly successful book Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes, Hawkins and Parrott hope that in studying the ‘worst practices’ of King Saul, leaders might learn what not to do. In essence, the authors hope that the reader will learn from Saul’s failures, so that the reader doesn’t have to repeat the same mistakes.1

Chapter 2 introduces the reader to Saul. The chapter contains a brief discussion of the positive aspects of Saul’s story and leadership, with attention give to Saul’s: character, transformation and successes. From there, the authors quickly transition to the crux of the book, and their reason for writing. Namely,

[Saul] began well…But something happened. Early in his reign, he began to sow the seeds of his own demise.2

Read more

  1. Chapter 1 of the book is essentially an introduction that offers an apology for the authors’ methodology.
  2. Richard Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott, Leadership Lessons (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2014), 18.

10 Ways to Prevent Ministry Burnout

I recently stumbled across the article ’10 Ways To Prevent Burnout in Ministry,’ while viewing an article at TonyMorganLive.com. The article begins:

Ministry is a 24/7 occupation and can be emotionally and physically taxing. The pace of life, the demands of counseling and public speaking, the strain of leadership, and spiritual warfare can drain your resources. Burnout is rarely discussed because we often feel that we must have it all together and put on a happy face. No one wants to admit they are feeling weary from the everyday challenges of ministry.

The word ‘occupation’ aside, the author is correct. Ministry tends to be 24/7 ‘and can be emotionally and physically taxing.’ I’d also agree with the last statement of that paragraph: ‘No one wants to admit they are feeling weary from the everyday challenges of ministry.’ Heck, you put a group of ministers in the room and quickly the conversation turns to success––often in the forms of butts, bucks and buildings. It is very rare, however, for the conversation to turn to the difficult and often challenging realities of ministry––especially the challenges that ministry poses to the health and wellbeing of the minister/pastor, the pastor’s family, etc.

The article, which is a free download, suggests ten ways to stave off burnout in ministry. While all of the suggestions are good, and worth considering, I found a few particularly impactful and insightful: Read more

Find Your Mission

T2014-10-20 23.16.38he recent edition of Fast Company arrived in mail the other day. In the issue’s featured article, GENERATION FLUX’S SECRET WEAPONRobert Safian argues, ‘In a world of rapid change and great uncertainty, the greatest competitive advantage of all may be at your very core.’ Thinking in terms of business and what motivates people, Safian suggests that loyalty-based contracts and transactional relationships––i.e., relationships in which compensation bind people together––are ineffective motivators. They may work for a time. They may motivate in certain situations.

A much more effective contract, he suggests, marries an individual’s sense of purpose with that of the organization/company. Along these lines, he cites the research of Jennifer Aaker, which suggests that meaning, rather than happiness, is what drives us most, as humans. In other words, meaning, rather than happiness, is what motivates us. It should be noted that Safian seems to define purpose and meaning in very personal terms––e.g., while one person finds an activity personally meaningful, another may not. Read more

Apple’s OS X Yosemite: Some initial thoughts

yosemiteAfter playing with Apple’s newest OS X, Yosemite, for a little less than a week (including just a few short days with the newly released iOS 8.1), I feel that I can now speak somewhat intelligibly to my experience with the OS and its features.

First things first, I should tell you that two of our  three Macs are running Yosemite. Our mid-2007 iMac (see the picture to the left) and our recently purchased MacBook Air (2014) were both updated when the OS went live. Our 2008 MacBook, which is no longer supported by Apple, continues to run well, despite being relegated to running Snow Leopard.

Not surprisingly, the MacBook Air did significantly better with the update process. Download speeds were higher, which gave the Air a slight advantage right out of the gate, in terms of install time. Where I noted a real difference, however, was with the actual install and configuration. The Air finished more than an hour before the iMac. Yes, you read that correctly.  Read more

12 minutes to Yosemite

We’ve reached the ‘restart’ portion of the install

We’ve hit the home stretch with the Yosemite install. Both the 2007 iMac and the 2014 MacBook Air have downloaded the updated. However, the MacBook Air is clearly in the lead regarding the installation. MUCH quicker. (Which causes me to hope that I won’t regret installing Yosemite on my iMac.)

Updating to Yosemite

27 and 22 minutes of download time remaining.

Playing with our nabi Square HD in the rain

John Mark McMillan: ‘Love At The End’ [Video]

My taste in music is diverse, to say the least. My iTunes library spans the decades (and not just because I have every U2 album). As Amazon’s (Prime) Music Player streams the eleftic (sic) nature of my musical taste and collection becomes apparent––Wyclef,1 Dylan, Hendrix, The Gaslight Anthem, Social Distortion and The Black Keys stream alongside Gustav Mahler, The National, Miles Davis, and Sigur Ros.

If any genre is underrepresented it is CCM (contemporary Christian music). While there are many reasons for this––e.g., anemic lyrics that lack depth of emotion––there have always been a few exceptions. Read more

  1. Hence the ‘ecleftic’ reference above.