Sacred Cows and Holy Chaos
M. Scott Peck theorizes that there are four stages of community development: pseudocommunity, chaos, emptiness, and authentic community. No one likes conflict, controversy and chaos, but when a community loses its vitality it often resorts to a sort of tired routine where everything is familiar, safe and predictable. There may be unspoken rules and hidden agendas that serve to keep the community from breaking free into a new, more vital and mission-driven life. In this speech, Brian addresses the process of becoming a more authentic, vulnerable and honest community and tickles out how a little chaos can be just the thing to revitalize one’s organization or community.
Letting Go is Not Giving Up: Leaving a Legacy
The movie Galaxy Quest promotes the typical American mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” We wear it as a badge of pride when a family member or an organization fights to the very end. But, is this always the healthiest approach for our churches and organizations? Brian describes the typical signs of an organization that is in the final stages of its life using accepted organizational life cycle models. He raises the question as to whether it is better to use remaining resources to leave a legacy in the community rather than surviving to the last gasp. Using grief models he describes how an organization can discern the subtle difference between giving up and letting go.
The Night I Broke into the Church: Religion Matters
On a lonely night near the end of Brian’s senior year in high school, he found himself wandering around the streets late at night feeling lost and anxious. His feet took him to the one place where he felt like he belonged, where he felt accepted, and where his life seemed to matter—the church. Desperate to find comfort and solace, Brian circled the building trying windows and doors until he found a door that had not been securely locked. A good hard yank gave him entrance he was hoping for. In this speech, Brian shares how important the church was to him as a child, how the community of people saved him from a delinquent life, and how religion, despite it’s serious flaws, provides a worldview that is healing and hopeful to our planet, communities and world.
What Color are your Glasses?
Postmodernism and post-Christian? What do those words mean? At a fundamental level they point to the end of an era where we could agree that there was some unified, objective truth upon which the world was built. In the modern era, even if we disagreed with each other, we believed that by reason and rational thought we could debate and think our way to the “way things are.” In the postmodern era, we recognize that anything and everything we say and believe is dependent on the lens through which we look at life. There is no objective reality, only subjective experience. In this speech, Brian teases out the implications of this postmodern, post-Christian time for our churches, the role of pastors, and the place religious traditions play in our society.
Agnostic and Christian: A Marriage Made in Heaven
In 2007, Brian faced a dilemma. As he began filling in the blanks for his Facebook page, he was troubled by the “Religious Views” question. Uneasy with just putting the generic term Christian there, he spent a full six months trying to define his religious orientation in a way that captured the complexity of his spiritual identity. He finally rested on “agnostic, Christian mystic” and has discovered that those words continue to grow in meaning and depth as the years roll on. Brian will speak to the relationship between faith and doubt, certainty and ambiguity, and a faith built more on one’s ability to wrestle with the big questions of life rather than to blindly accept unexamined and tired answers.
Awakening the Voice of the Soul
In one counseling session years ago, Brian’s therapist said, “You simply are not able to make decisions that would violate your soul.” He was right. At all the great junctures of Brian’s life he chose paths that allowed him to find expression for the voice of his soul over safety, security and predictability. It is a path he continues to nurture for himself, but after years of practice and self-awareness, Brian offers some tools born from his experience and invites others to awaken the voice of their own slumbering soul.