Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

24 Character Strengths for Positive Living

This post is from an email that a friend and colleague of mine (from Dreamers) Dr. Gary Bradley sent this week. I'd like to hear three things from you readers: 1) Would you add any traits to the list? 2) Would you contest the presence of any trait listed? 3) Which of the traits listed integrate with the nature of a popular Christian understanding of the world (world view) and which are more due to nurture in an individual's experience? Read on . . .

Traditionally psychology has always tried to assess what are 'normal' levelsof mental *functioning* and then compare abnormal states to that. (For normal read average). Positive Psychology is a new branch of applied psychological research that posits what is necessary for being realistically more than average - not superhuman - but how to grow,have a full life and realise potential.

Martin Seligman (a name that strikes awe and great reverence into most psychologists) has been researching positive psychology for 40 years and has come up with something rather interesting. Unlike humanistic theories of human functioning and being that stem from the likes of Freud, Carl Rogers etc. and that often run into conflict with Christian values - Seligman has proposed something that is almost entirely compatible with Christianity. In fact Seligman, who describes himself as somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic - goes as far to suggest that Christians actually have what others don't and even further to suggest that if you don't currently believe in God and you adopt these principles, you just might find God at the end of it!

What I find amazing is that scientific psychology doesn't talk about the heart, just mind, brain and body. Read the following 24 character strengths for positive living - these engage the heart and soul too...

Creativity (originality, ingenuity): Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.

Curiosity (interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience): Taking an interest in ongoing experiences for their own sake; exploring and discovering

Open-mindedness (judgment, critical thinking): Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly.

Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.

Perspective (wisdom): Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people

Bravery (valor): Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.

Persistence (perseverance, industriousness): Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.

Integrity (authenticity, honesty): Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feeling and actions

Vitality (zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy): Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated

Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated.

Kindness (generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”): Doing favors and good deeds for others.

Social intelligence (emotional intelligence, personal intelligence): Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.

Citizenship (social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork): Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group.

Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others.

Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.

Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful

Humility / Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.

Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

Self-regulation (self-control): Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions.

Appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation): Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life.

Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.

Hope (optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation): Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.

Humor (playfulness): Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side.

Spirituality (religiousness, faith, purpose): Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.

from an email by
Dr. Gary Bradley

More information can be found at the Positive Psychology Center

The floor is open . . .

Friday, March 16, 2007


About two weeks ago the Church of Ireland Youth Department (for whom I work) hosted a national youth ministry resourcing day for the Republic of Ireland. It was the first of its kind (as far as I'm aware) and by all accounts well worth doing again next year.

The day consisted of an opening session on Young People and Youth Culture, time for networking with 12 organisations present including: Open Doors, Scripture Union, CFI Training Centre, Youth Alive, 3Rock Youth, Mothers Union, Summer Madness, Street Reach, Youth for Christ, Exodus Christian Training Centre, Pais Project, ACET and the Church of Ireland Youth Department.

There were three others seminars for participants to take part in including Uniting Reverence with Relevance (marrying tradition with innovation), Hearts and Minds (investing in volunteer leader teams), and Along the Way (discipleship with young people in the 21st century).

It was a wonderful day and the event went smoothly. Many people gave positive feedback and have mentioned the desire to come to next year's event even though we haven't officially said we'll be hosting it next year. I think the feeling is that since it serves a big need and so many benefited, we'll go for a second year of SOURCE in the Republic of Ireland!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Challenging . . .

Just watched the Open Doors video called The Eastern Bride tonight and not only was I impressed (because of its excellence in production - no small feat for a Christian endeavour!), but I was also moved and challenged. I have a strong, growing desire to serve the persecuted Church around the world . . I'm not sure just how this is going to pan out yet. Click here for a very short preview of the film.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Where will the next ten years take us?

Futurist Leonard Sweet in one of his podcast series entitled Napkin Scribbles talks about what he believes will be the next five rising trends in the coming ten years. First Leonard says that size does matter - the next big thing is the next small thing - so watch how people are doing 'little large'. The second nascent trend is the 'well' curve replaces the bell curve: opposites happen at the same time so give up the middle and begin looking for those who are bringing the extremes together. Third he shares that 'epic rules', the importance of turning activities into epic-tivities . . with an emphasis on how culture is able to help the church become more of an epic community (see his most recent book The Gospel According to Starbucks). Fourthly, Mr. Sweet-ness himself notes that if you digitise you decentralise: the internet is becoming the new skin for planet earth and everything is becoming decentralised with some exceptions which are becoming hyper-centralised as part of the aforementioned 'well' curve. Lastly he surmises that the world is entering into what he is calling Crusade 9, with eight previous Crusades throughout history and this one being different because it's a global issue. This latter trend could eclipse the previous four in significance as it is referring to the growing tensions between the predominantly Christian west and Muslim east.

So how do these thoughts from Leonard sit with you?

Do they resonate with your experience?

Can you see any of the tell tale signs that his future-neering might become reality?

Would you suggest any further trends that you think are becoming part of a global nascent narrative?