Friday, December 26, 2008

Bush Signs Anti-Trafficking Bill!

This is GREAT news! I am passionate about this work and am currently seeking new and further ways to partner exclusively with the work of the International Justice Mission. Celebrate this good news with me during the time of year when many of us celebrate the gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ, who came to set us all free for the sake of freedom (Galatians 5:1)!

Bush Signs Anti-Trafficking Bill

December 24, 2008 2:57PM
by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Religious leaders hailed President Bush's signing of a bill that continues U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking across the globe.

In an Oval Office ceremony on Tuesday, Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.

"This is a piece of legislation we're very proud to sign and to see that it's authorizing funding for fiscal years ... 2008 through 2011," White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto told reporters before the signing ceremony. "And this program has been very effective around the world in trying to stop trafficking in persons in Africa and Asia."

The law aims to prevent and prosecute trafficking of humans in foreign countries and assist its victims.

"This bill will significantly assist the United States government in impeding the trafficking of women and child for sexual purposes," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a statement to Baptist Press, the denomination's news service. "It's a tremendously important new tool available to law enforcement officials in prosecuting those who traffic in human flesh. It will make a real difference to the victims of sex trafficking."

Finish the article . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lincoln's Bible Sees a Second President

Obama to Be Sworn in Using Lincoln's Bible
December 23, 2008 11:58AM
by Sarah Pulliam

Barack Obama will be sworn into office using President Abraham Lincoln's Bible, the first time it has been used since its original use in 1861.

Perhaps the news will snuff out the false rumors that Obama would choose the Koran. Or maybe it will distract people from the Rick Warren pick for a few minutes.

The press release from the transition team about the Bible is after the jump.

"Washington, D.C. - On January 20th, President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration. The Bible is currently part of the collections of the Library of Congress. Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. President-elect Obama will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.

'President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,' said Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau. 'The President-elect is committed to holding an Inauguration that celebrates America's unity, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage.' "

Read the rest . . .

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Coldplay Live!

Here are some great shots of the gig last night. It was a rare and amazing treat! I've posted pics and videos on facebook but I'll post some here too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

RYFO Heart

Support, support, support! The RYFO Network.

Are you a RYFO heart? from Nick Greenwood on Vimeo

Reflections on the Human Race

Thought this might be a good time to ponder where we've come from, where we are and where we could go - or more importantly - who we could become in the year ahead. With all the distractions 'life' has to offer, how are you anchoring yourself in the midst of upheaval, change and activity so true life can be born in you? Are you hungry - really hungry?

It's so Cold(play) Outside

Well, my excitement is growing exponentially about going to see one of the most creative, engaging, yearning bands of all time . . yep, you guessed it - Coldplay! I'm heading to Belfast tomorrow to take good friend Tim Doak up on his offer to see the influential band from England for *FREE*!!!! Thank you Tim, and a special thank you to my wife and friend of sixteen years for freeing me up to go. I love you Babe!

Check out my sweet percussion playing skills in this video. I hope to get more of a singing part in some future vids. ;-)

Archbishop Backs Disestablishment (and the Muppets)

Well, this adds some hopeful overtones to the whole discussion . . . .


The Archbishop of Canterbury has surprisingly reignited the row today over the separation of church and state by saying it is "not the end of the world" if the established church were to disappear.

Rowan Williams, the most senior figure in the Church of England, argues that there is a "certain integrity" to a church that was free from state sanctions.

His endorsement of disestablishment comes in an interview published today in this week's New Statesman.

Williams, who was born in Swansea, converted as a teenager to the Church in Wales, a disestablished church, and spent 10 years working as one of its bishops. He told the magazine his early clerical experience taught him there were advantages to not needing state approval.

He said: "I can see that it's by no means the end of the world if the establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh synod, it didn't have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that."

Continue reading here

The Voice

Do you hear the Voice? Hhmmmm, me likes it. Christmas pressie to myself??

Here's a brief review and discount on ordering (if you live in the good 'ol U S of A).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Barack Obama and His Irish Homeland

Here are a few more images from the Universal Records international release party for "No One's As Irish As Barack Obama" by the Corrigan Brothers.

The first two are of some of the paraphernalia littering the walls of Ollie Hayes' pub along the Main Street in Moneygall, Co. Offaly.

The next is of the promotional cd of the single given out free today and one of many stickers sent anonymously from Washington, DC with an Irish declaration on it. It (loosely) translates: "Yeah Obama! You're very welcome to Moneygall, Mr. President!"

And the last is a fantastic little video that Universal Records commissioned for the new song. It's quite humorous and features my friend and rector (see previous post) Stephen Neill in cartoon. Apparently it's true that President- Elect Obama himself has said he would like to visit Moneygall and have a pint here - yeah! Enjoy.

Here's the previous music video complete with clips of Obama himself - dancing.

Buy the song at iTunes!

No One's As Irish As Barack Obama

Okay, here's the first shot taken at the international release of the Universal Records single 'There's No One As Irish As Barack Obama' by the Corrigan Brothers in Moneygall, Co. Offaly where I'm at this minute. The band are in front, distant relation of Barack at top left & friend / rector, Stephen Neill who found the link w/ Obama in our church records is on the right. You can download or purchase the physical copy of the single in stores and on the net now.

He Said It . . .

Straight from the man's mouth!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who's Out There??

As an experiment, I'd like to profile, or highlight each one of you who visit the blog. Whether you visit regularly or have just 'happened' upon this space, I'd like to know who you are, where you're based and what you're up to. Three brief lines in the comments section. I'll then introduce you to one another right here. Are you up for that?

I'll re-post your submitted info (and an image if you'd like to send me one) here in this post.

It's just a little way to connect miles and miles away. Let's see where this goes . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Online Religion

Here's a very interesting report by Newsweekly on the value and concerns of people finding spiritual enrichment online. The text is simply a transcript of the actual video at the head of the article.

What are your views? What has been your experience?? What role do you think the net will play in peoples' encounters with God and one another in the years to come?

Click this link to go to the page and read / view.


Black Eyed Peas-esque U2?

Can you believe it??

Man, if this is true, it could be frikin' awesome!

I wouldn't put it past U2 to come up with something like this. Remember *POP*?


KANYE WEST has fuelled speculation BLACK EYED PEAS star will produce U2's forthcoming album by apparently confirming the news on his blog. sparked rumours of an unlikely collaboration with the rockers after telling MTV he had been in contact with frontman Bono, and that it would be "a dream come true" to work with the band.

And now West has taken to his blog to announce that hip-hop star is indeed set to produce material on U2's forthcoming LP, which was originally slated for release in September (08) but has since been delayed until 2009.

West writes: " is producing U2's next album. I'm sure it will be dope as s**t judging from the crazy beats he's done in the past 3 years!"

12/09/2008 01:41:55 AM

Original Article

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Great Emergence

I was sorry to have missed this event held in Tennessee of all places (!) which took place last week. It seems to have been an interesting gathering of a diverse grouping of people. The event has come about because of a book written by Phyllis Tickle called The Great Emergence (if you hadn't figured it out yet) which was released by Baker Books and Emergent Village. The synopsis of the book (crudely put) is that about every 500 years there has been a major shift in the direction the 'Church' has gone beginning within Judaism (Abrahamic tradition) and then within the Christian tradition. I love discussing history, culture and Christianity, so this one pretty much promises to be a great read! I'll wait til I get through some of the others I have bought recently though before purchasing it though.

Here's a link to some YouTube vids from The Great Emergence gathering in Memphis, Tennessee las week.

Did any of you attend the event? If so, what was the tone, content presented and discussion like??

Has anyone read 'The Great Emergence' yet? If so, could you give your best synopsis in a paragraph or less?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Repowering America

Aw yeah! It's great to see this kind of stuff advertised - especially how brazen and bold they are in addressing the target audience given their prospective economic leanings! Change is needed. I'd love to see this agenda forwarded and to support it more actively myself.

Obama-nomics Makes a Comeback!


My article that was previously *censored* from Risen Magazine's website is now live at theooze. Please have a read and leave your comments. Thanks!

So It Says

So check out Typealyzer if you are a blogger / web producer and you want to find out what your personality type is. Here's what came up for me . . I'm not sure I'm fully resonate with the result.

I wonder what my wife thinks?? Christy?

Could This Be True??

Religion May Help Extend Your Life

Regular attendance is key, researchers say, but they don't know why

Posted November 26, 2008

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Attending a weekly religious service, regardless of your faith, may lower your risk of death by 20 percent compared to people who don't attend services, researchers are reporting.

"Religion is always a hot topic, but particularly now, when people are perhaps in fear because of the recession and the threat of terrorism, people are looking for stability, and religion is something we find people reach out to for that stability. And, we see some health benefits here," said the study's lead author, Eliezer Schnall, a clinical assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva College at Yeshiva University in New York City.

"Maybe it's the sense of community, or the support, or maybe people are less depressed when they join in religious services," he said, adding that the researchers tried to control the data to account for many of these factors, but "we have not completely explained it all."

Results of the study were published in the current issue of the journal Psychology and Health.

Read more . . .

Gonna See This . .

(HT: mmmmmichelle)

Oh, I've got to see this one. 'What Would Jesus Buy' is another installment from Mr. Morgan Spurlock that promises to be amusing and painfully poignant. I saw it advertised earlier this year but have yet to see it in our video shops for rental. Maybe I'm just missing it? Anyway, something of the tact of f this film could be a great counter-balance to our holiday shopping tendencies this Christmas. The message is clear . . it's NOT about more stuff!

Here's an article about the film from the Charleston City Paper.

Happy Re-calibrating!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Direction

Tomorrow morning our parish here in the midlands of Ireland is beginning a new journey. Led by our Rector Stephen Neill and our parish assistant, Mrs. Vicki Lynch, we'll be embarking on the road of discovery into what it truly means to be following in Jesus' footsteps - together. The Rector is calling it 24/7 (as in hours and days) which is an allusion to the fact that there's more to being a Christian - or a church in the community - than an hour on Sunday. In conjunction with this new direction, we're beginning to show the Rob Bell Nooma videos to spur on conversation with those within and outside the church here in Cloughjordan. We've already shown 'Everything is Spiritual' and had some good feedback. As in all cases, our expectation (or hunger) for God to show up will set the stage for Him to do just that!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Obama's Roots Shatter Irish-American Myths

Here's an article I came across recently that carries some weight and may be of some interest especially to those of you who consider yourselves to be Irish-Americans. I take special interest because:

1) I have lived in Ireland for almost a decade

2) My children (soon to be three!) were all born here

3) Canon Stephen Neill is a good friend (read article)

4) I am a part of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and I'm employed by them

5) My family and I live in the same parish (church boundary) that Obama's ancestor is from near Moneygall, Co. Offaly, Ireland


Why Obama's Offaly roots help shatter Irish-American myths

Irish America was first seen as Catholic, then Presbyterian and now Church of Ireland too, writes BRIAN WALKER

PRESS COVERAGE of Barack Obama's election as US president has drawn attention to his connection with Ireland. His late mother Ann Dunham was a descendant of Fulmouth Kearney who left Moneygall, Co Offaly, for the US in 1850.

This connection is of special interest, however, because it casts an important light on the subject of the Irish diaspora in the US. Indeed, it provides an answer to some of the mystery about this diaspora, the full character of which has often been obscured by widely-held myths about both the Irish Americans and the Scots Irish.

Fifty years ago the number of those with an Irish background in America was put at about 16 million. It was assumed that most of these were Irish Americans who were mainly descendants of Catholic Irish who had come to America from the time of the Great Famine on. The family background of Joe Biden, the incoming vice-president, falls into such a category.

This picture, however, was upset radically in the 1980s. The American census results of 1980, which for the first time stated ancestral backgrounds, recorded a figure of about 40 million people who gave Ireland as their ethnic background or country of origin. This figure was much greater than had been expected.

Read on . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Emerging Church Secret Sessions

Just caught this over at Andrew's blog and it is hilarious - creative too! I love the in-sights injected into this from whomever created it. It was well-timed, utilised lots of 'big hitter' names and was excellently delivered with it's subversive, side-lining allusions between those 'in' the conversation and the Third Reich. No matter what you believe / feel about the emerging church - this is funny. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

How is Pop Culture Influenced by Technology?

This great post AND responses on this question from the "Q" blog, here (scroll halfway down).


"We live in an inflated society. Individuals and cultural influences are coated with a thin layer of veneer. This thin shiny coating makes everything seem better than it is. Inflated.

At the heart of the problem is that we are living in a time where perceptions have become reality and reality is dismissed with a dose of Prozac. We huff and puff and blow ourselves up, making meaning out of our existence through what others think of us. Or, more accurately, what we tell them to think of us. Meanwhile, our televisions and computers and magazines tell us what we should think, what we should look like, and what we should buy. All the while, we eat our hot dogs, peanuts and apple pie, oblivious to the cultural ramifications of this existence.

As individuals, we make choices about how we consume, how we engage with technology or what we believe with very little thought. Each morning we wake up and systematically put on our veneer - our outlet mall pants, our dyed hair, our white teeth - we then turn on our phones, crank up our blogs, and update our statuses. "Good morning world. I am perfect. I have more friends than you."

However innocent these choices may seem, they carry sincere ramifications. Let's take Facebook or Twitter as an example. We log in and update our status with what we are doing that day. We tweet about a cup of coffee we are having. Outside of being pure digital pollution (i.e., noise that offers no value) these nonchalant actions imply that what we are doing is important and that someone cares to know. These actions feed our ego, a form of narcissism . . ."

Read on . . . (scroll halfway down)

Possibility and Pleasure

"If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility."

- Søren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jedidiah Rocks!

Totally inspiring. Totally awesome company making a real difference in the world.

Jedidiah Clothing: Who We Are from Jedidiah Clothing on Vimeo

The Best Of . . .

Oh yes, it has arrived . . and I'm very excited. I am REALLY looking forward to getting into THE BEST OF RISEN MAGAZINE. Check 'em out. There is nothing like them out there.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Senior Adult Choir Hip Hop (Short Version)

compliments of Mark Batterson via Twitterific . .

. . not so much as funny, just sickening .

New Music for New Movements

Video: Flobots on Faith - The ‘Rise’ of New Music for New Movements

by Matt Hildreth 10-02-2008
Flobots are a Denver-based, hip-hop/rock alternative group, whose powerful activist lyrics explore issues from globalization and poverty to war and peace. Their influences include civil rights activist (and Sojourners contributing editor) Vincent Harding, who has a cameo in their newest music video, “Rise.”

(HT: Sojourners Blog)

Missional Shift or Drift?

Well, THANK GOD something is changing in the out-dated mode of mainstay evangelical Christianity . . not to diminish evangelicals, I refer to myself as one (in the *radical* sense of the word and not the categorical). I came from Willow Creek to Ireland. In fact, my family and I are here directly because of the Hybels' - they recommended our first job in N. Ireland to us in '99. I was only at Willow for a short time, but I fully upheld the model it was promoting until around 2002/3 when a dark, brooding cloud began to form over me. That experience helped usher in a new understanding and a new direction for me into 'missional' living.

The article below by Leadership Journal is a welcome note and yet another sign of life breaking through in North American Christian experience. There are worldviews expressed in the article which I can't encourage, but overall, it's good news. Here are just a few tasters from the article:

". . then Lueken took a class at Fuller Seminary taught by Dallas Willard. The experience led to a complete change of course for him and Oak Hills Church.

"[Willard] was teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and conveying the heart of the gospel through Jesus' teaching, and I felt I was sitting there listening to something I'd never heard before," Lueken recalls. "We realized that we had to rethink what the gospel was about. Does the Bible teach only the gospel of heaven and forgiveness of sins? Or is it about a new way of living that involves the power of God, the peace of God, along with your sins being forgiven and going to heaven when you die?"

"Here are more trends uncovered by the research. Compared to ten years ago:

- Pastors are focusing more on the Gospels than on the Epistles.
- More pastors believe the gospel is advanced by demonstration and not simply proclamation.
- More pastors say the goal of evangelism is to grow "the" church rather than to grow "my" church.
- More pastors believe partnering with other local churches is essential to accomplishing their mission."

"Whatever the particular cause for the shift in these pastors' ideas regarding the gospel and mission, five changes are gaining momentum in congregations all across the country:

- Affirming the whole gospel
- Not looking to a megachurch model
- Focusing on making disciples
- Encouraging a missional mindset as a means of spiritual formation
- Establishing partnerships to advance the gospel."

"Another shift is the growing emphasis on spiritual maturity, not just conversions. Pastors surveyed are pouring more energy into disciple-making even at the expense of programs previously considered sacred cows."

"My ministry used to be, 'Here are five things to know, four things to do, take your devotions and call me in the morning,'" he said. "It was head knowledge, with applications that didn't result in any heart change." "Compared to ten years ago, today's pastors say they increasingly see disciple-making and meaningfully engaging the world as not merely ancillary expressions of faith, but the means through which spiritual formation occurs."

Read the article in FULL .
. .

WillowCreek's 'Reveal'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mission in the West

This was a presentation I gave at the Church of Ireland's General Synod in Kilkenny, Ireland in May of 2007 on the emerging trends in the West (particularly Ireland) and the great potential to re-imagine what God is inviting His Church to be a part of in the 21st century.

Mission In The West
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: church emerging)

N.T. Wright & the Post-Emerging Church

Here's a little clip of Bishop N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning and Father Richard Rohr in a discussion on the state of the Christian faith in the world and particularly in the West. He postulates what he believes will happen as we (the Church) enter the post-emerging church era. It's just a glimpse of a longer conversation that happened in October 2007 in the Caribbean at Soularize 2007.

(HT: View From The Basement via Mike Todd)

Here are some images of the notes I took when I went to hear Bishop Wright speak in Carlow Cathedral, Co. Carlow, Ireland on November 10th 2008. He was invited to speak in light of the Pauline Year and because of his reputation as a New Testament scholar.

Lighting Up London

Here's a little article from the BBC on how art is helping to change perspectives and attitudes toward creation care through renewable energy powered installations.


Tower of power lights up London

By Flora Graham
Technology reporter, BBC News

Artists are lighting up London's South Bank with 1200 wind-powered lights as part of a digital arts festival.

The Aeolian tower - which means moved by the wind - is a 15m steel structure located next to Waterloo Bridge.

The tower is covered with hundreds of tiny wind-powered LEDs. Each one made of a plastic turbine, controlling circuits and three red LEDs.

The designers aim to show how renewable energy can be used to power sustainable art and design.

As wind blows over the tower, swirling patterns of light reveal the strength and direction of the breeze.

"We want to visualize the invisible, making people realize that there's a lot of energy out there that we're not using," said Zena Bruges from Jason Bruges Studio, which designed the tower.

Read on . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


03 - The COLLIDE Show from Collide Magazine on Vimeo


OK, I admit, this is out of the ordinary, but twice now this week I have been 'shot' at (well, one of them I just came across). Here's a link to a page from a seemingly very fearful 'ministry' that believes ancient Christian practices such as 'Lectio Divina' (more on it here) are of the devil. I think it's because the name is in Latin and not bog-standard English!

What do you think?

? ? ?

This image proves that booking Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi) to come and share at your function is well worth the investment - he not only speaks, but changes tires as well! So, in an attempt to make this blog more inter-active, I'm inviting any of you who actually do more than passively observe to come up with a creative, catchy title for the above image (which will also become the title of the blog post). The winner of the contest will receive either a *free* copy of the fantastic reflective journal resource entitled 'fuel' (see below), a souvenir from my ultra-cool office in the midlands of Ireland OR a lock of Andrew's hair which I cut from his head while he was sleeping during a film we were watching (joking!).

The fuel reflective journal:

More on the journal here.

This should be interesting . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Conversation is King!

Here we are on the shores of Lough Derg in the middle of Ireland. It's a misty morning with a heavy fog hanging over the lake but we've had a hot breakfast and are already in the thick of coversation. So far we've begun in depth chat around moving into a Rhythm of Life, setting up a venue at a national artistic music festival and facilitating churches in engaging more holistically with the wider culture through the Arts. Good directions . . .

"Now it's time to say goodbye . ." Here's a shot of my son Aidan and I saying goodbye to Andrew as he leaves these green shores for other adventures. Thanks for coming to Ireland tallskinnykiwi!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In Flight

Here's Andrew Jones in full flight here in Galway, Ireland today. He began a little less than confident (seemingly) but is now really engaging with the crowd. They're enjoying his input and asking loads of questions. I get a sense that this is really helpful for those in attendance. Thank you God!

Friday, November 14, 2008


This post was originally written for Risen Magazine and was posted last week on Saturday, Nov. 15th 2008. I just received an email from my contact at the magazine stating that he was asked by the Publisher to remove the article because he wants to "avoid taking positions on political issues". I was in no way trying to make a political statement, but to simply make comment on what I have observed about the character of our President-elect of the United States of America. If desired, one could interpret my positive sketch of Barack Obama as support - and a healthy dose of patriotism - for our future President. So, at the moment, here is the exclusive release of "Obama-nomics". Comments open . . .


Things have already changed quite a lot around here. I mean the whole world seems to have been keeping an eye on the American political race for the White House. I admit, I’m not sure how much coverage was given within America to the reaction from other countries at the success of Barack Obama & co. in procuring the title of the 44th President of America . . but it was exceedingly good from where I’m standing. Whether you voted for Senator / President-elect Obama or not, you have to admit, his campaign was a very well-oiled machine. Even where my family and I live in the middle of rural Ireland was not exempt from being affected by the recent American political performances. I suppose our case is a little exceptional as out-of-the-way places go, especially since Barack’s ancestral line on his mother’s side is traced to the next town over within our parish boundary. My friend Canon Stephen Neill has been riding the wave of ‘Obama fever’ the past year and a half since he made the discovery within church records.

It seems the world was on a euphoric high last week since he was nominated for office. That is, except of course, the President-elect’s opposition. Whether a supporter or not, everyone knows by this stage that one of his more obvious qualities is his ability for clear rhetoric. I tend to believe it was all the persuasive, compelling ‘wordage’ minus the lack of sincerity or meaningful content that ‘rhetoric’ denotes. I recently heard a radio presenter here in Ireland remark that when running for office one must, ‘Campaign in poetry and govern in prose.’ While I recognise the significance of this statement, I hope a good measure of the poetry remains in play with the Obama administration. It has been that ‘poetic’ element of President-elect Obama’s public face that has endeared so many to him. It’s the poetic flare that has generated all of that hope we have heard so much about - and even experienced in some cases. It’s that poetic edge that creates new possibilities in the ‘seed beds’ of prepared souls, the possibility that boldly declares ‘Yes We Can’. While I recognise that hope is not a deep enough resource to effectively guide a country on alone, it would be despairing if it were lost.

Not to be left unnoticed, much has been said about Barack’s intellectual prowess. Again, it has primarily come from those favourably disposed to him, but others have conceded that point as well. I’ve heard comments passed to that effect often enough to make me sick of hearing it. Okay, okay - let’s give that one to the man. He’s got to be smart and very intellectual to have made it to where he is . . doesn’t he?? Doesn’t everyone occupying the position of the ‘most powerful man in the world’ have to be so? **Enter relentless jokes about the present incumbent.** I have to admit, no matter your position or views on our current President, Will Ferrell plays a mean ‘W’! Then again, I can’t help but laugh every time I get a view of the comedian’s face - Will Ferrell, that is. I do recognise an aware and seemingly knowledgeable individual in the person of Barack Obama; but is that enough to effectively govern our nation? Will a ‘heady’ Oval Office provide the type of national leadership we need in our flailing society? It will help, but alone it’s not enough.

In my eyes, one of the most necessary qualities for leadership is a deep-seated personal integrity. Integrity at its root demonstrates a cohesion of person, a trustworthiness of character and honourable behaviour - no matter if someone is watching. A person of integrity is someone who says what they mean and does what they say. Their public face accurately mirrors their private world. This is a quality that has largely been lost to our Western society. Oh, it is valued in personal interactions with others, but a person of integrity is largely seen as a bit out of touch with the rest of the world. It’s a dangerous prospect for all of us when we begin attributing to celebrities the kind of respect and admiration saints once received in days gone past, because of what those celebs possess (cash, homes, influence), as opposed to who they are. More on that another time. I am grateful that, in my eyes, our next President of the United States emanates a certain level of integrity of person. I’m not suggesting for one moment that he is flawless (I’ve been around long enough to realise no one is), but integrity is present. Discerning souls will know it when they see it.

In regards to matters of faith, although relatively little is known of the personal convictions of President-elect Obama, it can be deduced that he does have a healthy grasp on the nature of faith and what living ‘faithfully’ truly means. In Obama’s speech on ‘Faith-Based Initiatives’ that was given in Zanesville, Ohio on July 1st this year, he states:

Now, I didn't grow up in a particularly religious household. But my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life. And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work.

Here, in the last lines, is the essence of integrity: acting in private as we have pledged in public. Or, in this case, fulfilling in public what we have intentioned in the private places of our own soul. One who possesses integrity is an integrated person. Integration is when we act on what we say we believe and we demonstrate what we believe by how we live. This is a pattern of life that makes persons whole and creates a healthy society when we’re compelled by a vision of human living at its best. In my experience, persons of integrity are the kinds of people that inspire me, that challenge me and call me to become the person that I am not yet but that I desire to be.

Come January, I truly hope that the sense I get of a person in which truth dwells deeply within, is not actually another mask put on for personal gain. I don’t think it is. In reality, intelligence is a necessary quality for leaders of nations, but integrity trumps it at the end of the day. Not that we have to decide between them, but in my book there is no contest. Like so many others, I am hopeful for what the future holds - Barack or no Barack - and I am grateful for Providence’s sway on human affairs. From where I sit, the best is yet to come!


Watch for this post (no longer!) on Risen Magazine and make comments there / here.

tallskinnykiwi's Return to Ireland

I'm just heading to the airport to pick up Andrew Jones of tallskinnykiwi fame. He'll be helping to facilitate a day on Christian spirituality, new media and fresh expressions of church in Galway (see advert below). It's open to the public. Ring me on 00353 (0) 8682 55759 if you'd like to come.

Following that, he'll be taking part in our annual Dreamers of the Day Symposium on the shores of Lough Derg which will consist of open conversation, food and good drinks. We hope to explore the Dreamers Rhythm of Life which we're attempting to develop as we consider transitioning into a missional order. Check out more on the open Dreamers network here and join the subversive revolution!

Following the close of the Symposium on Sunday, Mr. Jones and I will be hanging with my fam and kicking back next to a fire with our feet up no doubt!