Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I am enrolled @ the University of Oklahoma!

I am not a student in a traditional sense - as I'll be a faculty observer. 

I have an OU ID and login so I can be a part of the Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Education Program.  (I never would have thought I'd be "enrolled" at the University of Oklahoma!)

That makes OU the 10th Academic School where I have been "enrolled" in some capacity in my life.  In most ways I'll be a fellow-learner in the course.

I will also be the only non-teaching-faculty participant, so this makes OU the 7th University I've had some kind of faculty relationship with!

I genuinely look forward to the course - and am enjoying the reading already!  

Leading From Core Values: Principles & Practice of "Tribal Leadership"

This class is full 

In this course, we will explore the key perspectives and organizing principles for effective leadership in a collaborative setting.  Participants will practice the use of values-embedded stories to create social and psychological space for purposeful collaboration, practice designing and pitching strategic project ideas, learn how to join with others in effective social structures to complete significant projects, and create a vision for their future as effective leaders.

    Readings (supplied by OSLEP)
  • Do You Quantum Think? by Diane Collins
  • Selected Readings (to be announced) by Will Durant
  • The Rules of Victory: How to Transform Chaos and Conflict -- Strategies from the Art of War by James Gimian and Barry Boyce
  • The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Change Everything by John Hagel III, John Seely-Brown, and Lang Davison
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organzation by Dave Logan, John King, and Haley Fischer-Wright
  • The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion by Ken Wilber
  • Photo of John King

    John King is co-founder and senior partner of CultureSync, a consulting firm that focuses on Leadership, Strategy, Cultural Change and Executive Coaching. Along with his partner, David C. Logan Ph.D, John is co-author of The Coaching Revolution, a book presenting the author’s best practices in the realm of executive coaching.

    John is in demand as a keynote speaker, and is nationally recognized as a senior teacher, coach, and program leader. Clients of his coaching practice have been featured on all major television networks and in The Wall Street Journal. CultureSync’s clients include Intel, Cedars-Sinai Health System,Southern California Edison, CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International, OliverMcMillan, The California State Appointed Executives, Amgen, and American Express, and The Space Frontier Foundation.

    John is part of the leadership development team at Sierra Health Foundation and is on faculty at Collier’s University, CB Richard Ellis University, and The California Leadership Institute. John is also a frequent guest lecturer in the Marshall School of Business and the School of Public Policy, Planning,and Development at USC. 

OKC Service Project - Dec 28 or 29 !


Here is a tangible way to demonstrate charitable kindness and service!

Start the New Year off right with a commitment to serve others - even before 2012 arrives!

Lovelink Ministries is moving one mile in Downtown OKC,  from 500 S. Western to 1122 Linwood Blvd ( it's a curious intersection where NW 6th and N. Western and Linwood meet!) 

This is a family-friendly-service project idea (!) - kids are welcome - but work is involved and no childcare nor baby-sitting is available!

Packing at 500 S. Western  - unpacking at 1122 Linwood Blvd.

  • Wednesday the 28th - 0900 hours to 1600 hours
  • Thursday the 29th - 0900 hours to Noon

Email:  lovelinkministries@yahoo.com    -   Tell them Marty sent you to help with the connection!

Bring gloves and willingness to work. 
If you have a truck, trailer, or enclosed vehicle (van, moving truck!) - that would be super!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ghandi on Christmas


At the Bruderhof publishing site, The Plough  - they have a great review of thoughts from Ghandi on Christmas.

I'll post the start of their words - and his words  - here, with the hope that you will consider reading for yourself. 

Because Gandhi came to the message of Jesus unfettered by the traditions and doctrines that are commonly understood as “Christianity” his heart was free to respond deeply to the good news that Jesus’ advent brought to humankind. Gandhi understood Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom with greater clarity than most of us who call ourselves Christian. We’ll let Gandhi speak for himself:

Ghandi writes:  I have never been able to reconcile myself to the gaieties of the Christmas season. They have appeared to me to be so inconsistent with the life and teaching of Jesus . . . . 
Ghandi writes:  How I wish America could lead the way by devoting the season to a real moral stocktaking and emphasizing consecration to the service of mankind for which Jesus lived and died on the Cross.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Poetry, Creation, and Our Moral Responsibility

I love Wendell Berry.  I recommend him routinely to others.

And, Ellen Davis, she's great!

I've been shaped by each of these persons - and I have been shaped by the Bible - and have been teaching the "same things" that they have been teaching for years!

A great 52 minute interview with Dr. Ellen Davis - including snippets from Wendell Berry, that might help you re-think the Your role and Our role in creation!

Great stuff  at this link!  (Go to the left of the screen for "Hear the Show")

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Greatest Prayer


Sometimes I love the fact that I "know my discipline" (Biblical Studies) and I am thankful that I have learned how to read quickly - with meaning.

That helped me read John Dominic Crossan's 190 page book on the Lord's Prayer:  The Greatest Prayer in under an hour this evening.  A great read.  (If only the student papers that I grade could be read so quickly!!)  (Alternate link to text here from JDCrossan webpage.)  (Oh how I love picking up new texts at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature!)

I don't mean this at all in any presumptuous way when I say that he has drawn together - with greater scope and depth and meaning - many themes that my friend Dr. T. Scott Daniels and I have noted all across scripture.  (And again, I am not trying to be presumptuous here - what J.D. Crossan has done - simply and with depth - is *more* than what Scott and I have done! - but if you'll review Scott and my blog posts, either his or my sermons, and independent or shared writing projects - you will find discernible and direct connected themes - which, in truth - we've probably all "taken" from the same sources of texts we've each read over the past several decades!)

That being said - I'll post my Amazon.com review here - with supplemental note.  At Amazon.com I wrote:

This book is not a "devotional" about the Lord's Prayer - nor a simple articulation of Matthew's version of the prayer set in the context of the Gospel of Matthew. Not at all. Rather, in this text, as Crossan outlines in the prologue, he notices patterns (parallelism) and key words that operate within the prayer - that hold it together - in balance between "heaven" and "earth."

Crossan draws upon nearly the entire scope of the Christian Canon - including significant extra-biblical stories and events - to discern what the Lord's Prayer "means" in its historical context, framed within the larger Biblical Canon.

Crossan admits his own bias as having shaped how he might read the prayer - when he notes how he has been critiqued for using his homeland, Ireland as a model for seeing Jesus (p. 165). And, as any good Biblical scholar, Crossan should note his own interpretive and cultural framework that would shape his ideas about the Bible! But, this is not a book about how Crossan interprets the Lord's Prayer. This is a book where Crossan peels back Canon and History to show how the Lord's Prayer very likely *should* be interpreted from within its own contexts. This is a book about where Crossan reveals how History and Canon inform interpretation of the Lord's Prayer.

I have my own bias - as a peacemaker, pastor, and professor. So let me be clear in posing that here. My presuppositions, I will admit, were already with Crossan on many issues - including the use of "deliver us from evil." I still gleaned new layers of insight when I read Chapter 8, "Lead us not into temptation." - As Crossan notes, "The disciples must continue in prayer . . . . [because] it is not acceptable for the followers of Jesus to use defensive counter-violence even to defend Jesus himself" (Page 181).

If you have a few hours, and a good grounding in the history and canon of the Bible, I recommend you read the book straight through - in a single sitting - to capture the scope of what Crossan does in this text.

A note on the 4 stars - instead of 5 stars. First, The book's size and paperback form - and it's publication by HarperOne suggest that this is for a broad, public audience. While it should be read by many and while it is not complex - Crossan covers a huge array of historical events and scripture, such that a "lay" reader, in my opinion would get lost in the details and not finish the book - or, not discern the "larger" thing that Crossan is doing - which he does masterfully. And, second, because the book is much more technical than it appears, a full appendix to cover both topical issues and citations from Biblical passages would be helpful for review.

Finally - on a personal note - I found an email address for Dr. Crossan wherein I suggested he explore more Jewish Scripture connections to what he does in Chapter 6 with "Take-Break-Bless-Give" - pages 129ff. I think the themes he extends forward into the Christian Scripture have a nuance of issue he has not yet seen in from Genesis 1 to 3. I hope Dr. Crossan will explore the possibility of noting the themes I highlighted in a short piece I wrote about this much smaller issue - of much less significance and scope - via Duke University's Faith and Leadership website, entitled "Take, Give, Eat."

I'll add a few more notes here.  I think J.D. Crossan's work could have more depth, too - if it connected with themes Scott has nuanced out of Revelation - and these themes connected - as well to the work of  how the prayer and its focus on "heaven" and "earth" could be better connected to the Kingdom themes in the Book of Revelation with respect to the Lion/Lamb and the Kingdoms of the world getting "leaves" for peace and healing - from the tree of Revelation 22 - great insight from this text.

I read the book quickly - with no pen(cil) in hand.  But I dog-eared the following pages to come back to:  75, 91, 94, 103, 111, 118, 129, 140, 155, 167-168, 173-175, 178-181, and 187.

I have long wrestled - for all of my professional Biblical "career" with the issue of the violence of God in Scripture.  And here I'll post what Crossan notes - and I don't think it is is a "spoiler alert" - but know that this is central to what Crossan discerns in The Greatest Prayer.  Crossan notes that we are finally people who are Christians - followers of Christ and not "Bible-ians."

Confronted, as we are (italics in original), by tandem visions of both a nonviolent and violent God throughout the Bible, we simply ask ourselves another question.  Is Christ the incarnation and revelation of a nonviolent or violent God? (italics in original).  Since Jesus the Christ was clearly nonviolent (thank you at least for that judgment, Pilate), we Christians are called to believe in a nonviolent God. 

In other words, the nonviolent incarnational Christ challenges and judges the violent apocalyptic Christ.  Our Christian Bible, therefore, tells a most strange story.  It is one whose meaning is in the middle, not the end, whose climax is in the center, not the conclusion. That is, by the way, why we Christians count time down to the incarnation of Christ and then back up from it. (page 187)

I read this text on Sunday, November 27th - the first day of Advent for 2011.  What a delight to be reminded that across history, the Canon, and within the "greatest prayer" - the focus is on a God who empties Self to become human, to teach us how to live nonviolently.  Now, if only we can make it on earth, with God's dominion operative through us, as it is in heaven.  Then we will live into and "fulfill" with God - the purpose of our prayers for God's Rule to be effective even this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I wish someone had told me - what's a Guild!?!


University courses and reading have been enjoyable to me.  I very much enjoyed the persons who taught me at several schools - Nazarene schools - where I earned Bachelor and Master's Degrees.  I know my professors were caring individuals and good thinkers.  But I wish I would have been given more information, earlier - about what it means to distinguish the differences between work with the Bible for the Parish or Church community and work with the Bible for the Professional Community or "the Guild."

I earned a Bachelor's Degree and two separate Master's Degrees in Religion/Theology from three separate Nazarene Schools - and then went off to do Ph.D. work.  I had grown to love reading the Bible, discerning its nuance and complexity - and my professors helped shape my thinking.  But none of them gave me discernible, credible and direct insight into what it might mean for me to be "a Scholar."

My pursuit of University degrees came about in large part because I had a higher than average (but not excellent and not genius!) mental aptitude - and because I worked hard and invested time in being a student.  (I am convinced that I learned to read and work "harder" as a student than most students.  If I have had any success, it is because I invest effort - not because I'm "smart.')  I earned scholarships and stipends that encouraged me to continue pursuing degrees, but it wasn't until I had been in Universities for more than 6 years, and I matriculated to the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology that I came into a real awareness of what it means to "be an academic" and to "enter into the Guild" - for me, the Society of Biblical Literature.

For most of the past 16 or 17  years, I have attended, every year, the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and/or a Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature.  I remember distinctly when I attended the Annual meeting in 1999, in Boston.  I recognized at that meeting that I was a "Bible Geek" and I "fit in" with this eclectic and diverse group.  I was sitting in a session committed to the Deuteronomistic History - (Joshua to II Kings - historical books in the Jewish Scripture.)  The focus of the session was on David.  The room was cold. Boston was cold.  And a scholar got up to present his paper. And before starting his presentation, he noted how cold it was in the room.  He said something along this line.  "It's so cold in here I need an Abishag!"  I laughed with the cadre of scholars gathered in the room!  How funny!  Then, I realized - no where else in the world would this joke be *this* funny to this many people - and, in fact, most people would not get the joke!  (Abishag is the young woman given to David in his old age - to lie beside him - to keep his aged, dying body warm.)  The fact that I laughed at the joke, confirmed for me that I really was a "Bible Geek" and I really did enjoy "this" Guild.

Every Fall at the institution where I work, I teach Old Testament Theology to every School of Theology and Ministry Major.  In October, I require every learner to read and engage an article published in a peer-reviewed journal, about the Old Testament.  The assignment is simple enough - read the article you have found, and on 2 page summarize the argument and give a personal reaction.  After the learners complete the assignment, I talk to them about "where" these articles come from - typically the result of some "paper" "presented" somewhere at one of many scholarly conferences or meetings.  I describe the meetings to them and how "the Guild" woks - for various venues, Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, Wesleyan Theological Society - - and the like.  I am very clear with my learners - usually sophomores and juniors - that they may not have enjoyed the scholarly journal article they reviewed - and they do not have to pursue scholarship.  I encourage them that they don't have to pursue graduate work and I let them know they can effectively and capably pastor churches without seeking higher degrees - so long as they covenant to be life-long learners!  But, I also make sure they know - clearly and unequivocally - what "the Guild" is and that "now" is the the time in their lives that they need to begin to think about how they will perform and where they will seek graduate degrees and when they will enter the Guild as student members - so they can live into their best possible futures. 

That all takes place in October.  Then, after another couple of weeks pass, I typically attend the November Annual meeting of the SBL and I remind my learners where I am going and what being a member of "the Guild" entails.

I have many, many good friends in "the Guild" - and I treasure relationships I have from persons of various religious traditions and perspectives, from various schools where I have studied.  (In fact, I wish I would have known to be a better colleague and friend with fellow students in my under-graduate and graduate experiences!)  With one colleague, in particular, though - he and I both being from the Church of the Nazarene - we lament with a smile - that "no one told us" what we needed to do to become "true" Scholars with "pedigreed" degrees.  No one told us that "getting into the right school" and studying "with the right people" can set trajectories in motion that can not be established other ways.

I love what I do and am so very happy in so many ways to be where I am in life - but my career is different than colleagues and friends who teach elsewhere.  As an example, I teach at least 8 courses a year - with hundreds of students, thousands of pages of papers to read and grade.  I might get a one-semester sabbatical every 9 years.  A colleague just a year my senior, pedigreed up differently than I - and he teaches at a school where he gets a year long sabbatical every 4-5 years - and he only teaches a maximum of 3 courses per year, plus has at least one (if not two) Graduate Assistants personally assigned to his courses - giving him much more time to read and write and engage in other ways.

I celebrate where I am at.  In truth, I'm not smart enough to be at the most prestigious schools in the world - but, if I had been guided and mentored differently, my life would have taken on other options that are now not possible to me. 

I  am not lamenting - simply commenting! 

And I comment so that the young persons that I teach now will have the insight of this wisdom - from my lived experience - as they think about how they might elect to pursue Graduate School work . . . and life within The Guild!


Thursday, November 03, 2011

I've never been in this kind of library!


I've been in libraries across the U.S., in Europe, England and in Southeast Asia - but never before in a library like the one I was in today.

I stood in a private vault that houses the largest privately owned collection of Bible and Biblical Antiquities in the world today.

I walked past rows of 12 foot high shelves - 20 feet long that held hundreds and hundreds of ancient Torah Scrolls alone.

We then went to another room were I was working with Yitchok Reisman from www.torahscroll.com as he and his colleague were establishing the provenance of numerous scrolls. 

As the day started, I asked, "What can I do to help?"

He answered, "Ask questions."

I love the wisdom of Judaism.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reading about Dark Matter, the Universe and Sex in the Bible

I had opportunity this past weekend to get several books read.  One of the nice things about traveling is that I am very good at tuning-out other people out as I stick my nose in a book.  Thankfully I had a few good books to read, and a couple that were less exciting.

The first book I read, Paradise Lust : Searching for the Garden of Eden .  The book was interesting because the author traces the journeys of several different persons in their exploration of a finding the historical Eden.  The book reads more like a biography of the explorers themselves, then an exploration of Eden as a place.  In those ways, the book explores as much as anything the unique personalities and persona of the people who have tried to find Eden.  There were several persons reviewed in the book that I had heard of, or had some real year to us because of their association with Biblical studies.  But there were several characters detailed in the book and presented numerous eccentricities in terms of their reasons for searching for Eden in various places of the world.  I should not have been surprised, but I was surprised to discover that people have claimed that Eden is in places as far as China, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Venezuela and even Ohio.  Of course these are very different places then the region of the Fertile Crescent or the region of Mesopotamia which is what I have always been more familiar with.  The book was interesting, not one that I would recommend or reread , but intriguing and fun to explore all the same. 

My lovely bride picked up this book for me while she was at the library, How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness:  Simple Daily Mindfulness Practices for Living Life More Fully and Joyfully.  When I was in Thailand and this summer, I had opportunity to interact with Buddhism and Buddhists people on a daily basis.  I was intrigued by the calmness and serenity of most of the people that I met and my wife knew that.  This simple book, does precisely what it claims in its title, it presents several different ways by which people can use different practices to be mindful about every day of their lives.   I did not read the book from cover to cover – as the mindful practices are designed to be practiced, one week at a time – hence the 52 chapters.  But I did read nearly all of the chapters and found that, if a person were to do these simple things, there is no doubt that they would be more thoughtful and aware and attuned of their daily life – sights, smells, sound and presence around them.

Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire by ennifer Wright Knust.  This book was recommended to me by a friend and I certainly thought the title sounded intriguing.  The book was interesting – and there were many, many things that persons would learn about the Bible by reading it.  But, in truth, many of the issues were not new to me – and several of them I disagreed with – both in terms of presuppositions and in terms of the hermeneutic used by the author.  But, that would be no surprise to the author as she says in her own conclusion, “Whatever we wish for . . . probably can be found somewhere in the Bible . . . .  We are not passive recipients of what the Bible says, but active interpreters who make decisions about what we will believe and what we will affirm.”  The next paragraph begins, “Once upon a time, the followers of Jesus knew that they were interpreting the Bible, not simply extracting truth from a set of divinely inspired texts.”  Her use of “once upon a time” – to make it sound like a common fairy tale, and her use that “they” were “not simply extracting truth” is a bit problematic for me as it does seem the followers of Jesus (she cites Paul) did think they were engaging inspired texts!  More to the point, while the author does well to point out that the Bible has no simple solutions – and in fact, quite a myriad of solutions/responses – to issues of sexuality – she comes away with no sustaining ethic for framing any moral basis for any sexual code/principles based on the collection of stories found in the Bible.  Here review of the Bible is important, as her reading portrays the deep complexity of myriad issues involving all manner of sexual practice in the Bible!  But, to come away from these texts and conclude only with a reader-oriented-uninspired-open-ended-the-Bible-doesn’t-really-say-anything-because-the-Bible-says-so-many-varied things, seems to leave us with no sense – and nonsense all together.  Issues of sexuality are complex, indeed!  But even in her review of Song of Songs (Solomon) – the author demonstrates her agenda for interpretation as being one that has a political (w)edge against religious groups that use the Bible to isolate views that espouse “family values.”  Anyone who reads Song of Songs (Solomon), though, should see plainly that the poems are not about “marriage” but about the passion of lovers.  The book, I am sure, will score many points with those who want to “argue” against narrow minded and small-visioned fundamentalist interpretations of erroneous stereotypes for family values from the Bible!  But, a full reading of the Bible demonstrates this plainly enough, without needing the bias and ambiguity that Knust adds to the already complicated issues.

It’s a good thing I read this book as an audio book, because it was so good, with so many fascinating issues that if I had read it in paper form – I would have found myself dog-earing pages, highlighting issues, and, in general, it would have taken me 2 or 3 times as long to read with all the notes I would have made.  The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek.  Fascinating and brilliant.  It takes the reader through a gamut of facts, figures, numbers, persons, and stories that narrate the complexities of what we know – and don’t know about the Universe – and life and the worlds and stars and planets.  With fascinating mathematical figures and curious events taking place – the author weaves together a wonderful picture of how much we do not know!  What a great book.

As I was nearing the end of my audio-reading of 4% Universe, I picked up and read, 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense:  The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks.  The opening chapter in this text, happened to cover the same issue – so I thought the rest of the book would prove intriguing.  It did not.  Essentially the authors takes issues that seem quite settled in the scientific community but for which there may be an outlier or anomaly that exists – and this author tracks that outlier/anomaly as though *it* were the real truth to be found.  Because, for example, a single bandwidth of reception came in through “the Big Ear” at 1420 Mhz in August of 1977, “we can conclude that it was a single from an alien civilization.”  And later he writes that the “best we can suggest is that it was a signal from an alien spacecraft . . . aimed momentarily and erroneously in our direction as a civilization migrated through our cosmos.”  The author will do well to join in with those who, he claims, have succeeded in making ColdFusion work in the past. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Small Group "Team Building" "Exercise"

The Space Between Us by Marty Alan Michelson.pdf Download this file

This is more than a casual "team-building" "exercise."

It has connection though - with "really" "meeting" and being "met" by others in a genuine Encounter.

I'll let the attached PDF speak for itself.

If you work with people in small groups, or on retreats, you might find this intentional encounter helpful.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Authenticity, Accuracy and Reliability


This past week I had the opportunity to be the designated respondent to a lecture presented at the Oklahoma City's Museum of Art - OKC MOA - connected to the private Biblical Antiquities collection owned by the Green Family, owners of Hobby Lobby, Inc.

Much more about the exhibit can be explored here: Explore Passages

As I understand it, my presentation will soon be available in DVD format - similar to this DVD in the same series. That is fun! My low quality - personal recording of my portion of the the presentation is available at this link: Michelson on Authenticity, Authority and Reliability of Scripture.

Additionally, I will be the first to announce here - what the President of my university, Southern Nazarene University will soon be announcing - I have been invited to become a Scholar-Mentor with the Green Scholar's Initiative. This will not only be exciting for me, working with the Green Collection - it is also exciting that through this series of connections, I will get to work with emerging young scholars who will continue to develop their ability to study and engage the Bible, working with unheard of access to primary texts and documents that have not yet been translated or researched!

At the most recent lecture, I was able to get this snapshot - including (from left to right) - Dr. Jerry Pattengale, Director of the Green Scholars Initiative; Dr. Loren Gresham, President of Southern Nazarene University; Steve Green, President of Hobby Lobby, Inc.; Dr. Stan Toler, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene; and myself.

The lecture I responded to was entitled "Answers to New Theories Regarding How We Got the Bible." I used several news or book issues (Headlines in the Associated Press News, to Cover Stories in national magazines like the National Geographic, to popular HarperOne published best-sellers) to talk about the continuing authenticity, accuracy and reliability of Scripture - especially discerned in light of a Wesleyan Perspective on the role and function of Scripture. It is great to be a representative from the Church of the Nazarene invested in this process!

It was a great opportunity and I am anxious, myself, to see the DVD when it becomes available!

I am always delighted to have opportunity to share in other Churches or Synagogues regarding what we can know about the Bible. I'm excited that I get to share a small portion of this knowledge with other churches even this Fall.

What a privilege to share!

As a supplementary note - several weeks ago I was asked to provide a series of "sound-bite" quotes for the media group working with the advertisement and promotion of the Green Collection and the Green Scholars Initiative. I am not sure if and when any of these quotes might get used - but they accurately characterize my thoughts on the Green Collection:

Past Scholars in Biblical studies have been known to acquire treasured documents and use these documents to advance their own careers. The Green Collection and the Green Scholars Initiative is intentionally stewarding treasured documents in shared ways - to advance scholarship and discernment of the Bible for the world! Their work and their sharing is a sign of their commitment to let these Ancient texts continue to speak today!

The Greens have done the world of Biblical Scholarship a great favor in their willingness to share these important ancient texts. The Bible has shaped the culture of the world and the willingness to share these important, ancient texts demonstrate their kindness and their contribution to a world that is aware of the influence of the Bible.

The fact that the Green Family is committed to scholars and mentoring relationships, demonstrates that this is not a short-lived commitment by the Greens. By encouraging established scholars to share research and engagement of ancient texts with emerging scholars demonstrates a life-long- extended commitment to excellent scholarship in the area of Biblical studies.

Generations of scholars - and Biblical scholarship - will be forever shaped by the Green's willingness to share and steward these resources among small teams of scholars - and young people.

This will allow teams of scholars to study the ancient wisdom of the Bible - for applied discernment and extended influence in advancing good news for the future of our world.

Marty Alan Michelson, Ph.D.
Peacemaker, Pastor, and Professor at Southern Nazarene University

Again, we've got to re-think everything

I am an advocate of science.  It comes to me naturally, it seems, since I grew up in a home where my dad was a Science Teacher!

I am thankful that I have been able to spend the past decades of my life having had opportunity to witness strategic and important new discoveries in Science.  Some of these discoveries have extended past theories in new ways - and some of these discoveries raise challenges to the certainty with which we "know what we know."

As a theologian, these issues are important to me - because getting at the heart of what we know and don't know - about all things - about Ultimate things - is very important.

It is with intrigue, therefore, that I read this recent news:

Roll over Einstein: Law of physics challenged

GENEVA (AP) — One of the very pillars of physics and Einstein's theory of relativity — that nothing can go faster than the speed of light — was rocked Thursday by new findings from one of the world's foremost laboratories.

European researchers said they clocked an oddball type of subatomic particle called a neutrino going faster than the 186,282 miles per second that has long been considered the cosmic speed limit.

The claim was met with skepticism, with one outside physicist calling it the equivalent of saying you have a flying carpet. In fact, the researchers themselves are not ready to proclaim a discovery and are asking other physicists to independently try to verify their findings.

"The feeling that most people have is this can't be right, this can't be real," said James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, which provided the particle accelerator that sent neutrinos on their breakneck 454-mile trip underground from Geneva to Italy.  (Full Article here.)

An interesting response to this news - that raises issues about new cosmologies and new theologies that might need to be explored as the result of this:  HERE.

I certainly do not have "answers" to these complex realities - and I don't pretend to peddle easy responses!  For sure!

And yet, I marvel at the mystery that continues to shape what we do and do not know in this utterly, seemingly-infinitely complex world. 

It is truly Awe-inspiring to me.

What does it mean to re-think and re-frame Violence

A great article from Duke's Faith and Leadership program on interrupting violence.

It begins in this way:

White spoke to the two men privately and then brought them together to negotiate a resolution. When discussions were at an impasse, White pointed first to the man who had dropped the cash and said, “I see you in the penitentiary.” Then he turned to the man who had picked up the money: “And I’ll be going to your funeral.”

The solemnity of White’s words, coupled with the respect he had gained as a fair, streetwise negotiator, set in. Two hours after the incident began, the $70 was returned, with no one disrespected and no one dead.

“That’s in essence what we are trying to do all the time -- make sure no one goes to the cemetery and no one goes to the penitentiary,” said Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Illinois and creator of the violence interrupter component of the program.

Full article here

Link to a relevant (and connected) presentation to a group of M.D.'s here.

What is striking to me is the claims made about mimicry - which connects with Girardian Theory on mimesis, desire and rivalry that are at the heart of triangular desire and violence.

Always glad to read about persons effecting to reshape patterns of violence that break-forth in the world - and it seems that Dr. Slutkin has found new ways to label and "prescribe" patterns to help persons break the "epidemic" of violence! 

We need an end to violence in our world!


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Jimmy Carter, Capabilities, War and Mindfulness

A few short entries on several miscellaneous books I've recently read and reviewed.

With all the stuff going on with the Palestinian bid for statehood these days, I decided I needed to get my hands on some Jimmy Carter texts - as I know he's been influential in the field.  I picked up and read through - but was able to skim through much of - his two texts.  His Palestine:  Peace Not Apartheid text is not new - but I had not read it.  It raised quite a bit of "drama" for him - and reasonably so - and I think even he would agree that his use of "apartheid" was challenging - though I think it is helpful that he labeled the problems there in this way, too.  Sometimes "calling something out" helps frame the dialogue.  An important text, with good ideas.  More recently, Carter wrote, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land.  This text was written at the time when Obama was coming into office, with specific attention to direct conversation to what Obama could do "now" (2007) to effect change.  Had the suggestions been heeded, perhaps change could have been effected.  It seems, now though, the idea of a two-state-solution is null and void.  A pointed review on the death of the two-state-solution and the failure of diplomacy for Israel can be read here.

Though it wasn't on my agenda, I picked up and read, What The Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President? - Jimmy Carter, America's "Malaise" and the Speech that Should have Changed the Country.  Since I was not yet ten . . . barely 8, in fact, when this speech was delivered - it was not on my "radar screen" as a child.  But, I have read the speech as an adult and I appreciated it.  I have thought more than once about how very different so much of the world would be right now had we opted for wiser stewardship, and more fiscal accountability with respect to energy in the 1970s - as it seems to me much of our current spirit of war is motivated in ways we do not want to admit - by our dependency on foreign sources of oil.  Alas.  The text was a fascinating look at the situations that gave rise to President Carter's speech - and the author wove in major "movements" and movies and issues from the 1960s and 70s that set the stage for the speech.  The final words of the text itself, sum up the central importance of the text - and the speech - when Mattson writes:

This book also assumes that Carter's speech still resonates to this day.  Consider the speech's major insights in light of the present.  We are still a nation dependent on foreign sources of oil and lacking a national energy policy that searches for alternatives.  So, Carter's suggestion that America had to generate a sense of national purpose and a 'common good' to fight the energy crisis doesn't sound all that distant.  We are still a nation infatuated with private self-interest, whose civic culture seems torn apart, a nation that still 'bowls alone,' as on political scientist recently described it.  We are still a culture that prizes consumerism and materialism, whose pop culture seems vapid and distracting at best.  Foreign wars still warn us against thinking of America's greatness in simplistic terms, as if it can be easily projected throughout the world without a blowback.  So, in the end, this book ends with a question about 1979 as a turning point.  Are we so certain that the turn taken was the right one?  To remember Jimmy Carter's speech today allows us to ask that question with the sort of moral import it deserves.

 I skim read Empowerment:  The Art of Creating Your Life as you Want It.  I don't buy into the notion that we can "vision" and "see" our future and "create" it as a possibility in the same way the authors propose, so the book was not too captivating for me.  I am not a believer in "visualization" - though I do think it is important to consider possible futures and plan for possible outcomes.  Not a book I woureallld recommend, but the book did offer numerous good "exercises" where persons could respond to self-reflective questions that would give them opportunity to consider their life and re-think their goals/perspectives.

I really wanted to like the book, War Is A Lie.  While I liked many "glimpses" of ideas in the book, I found the book very difficult to read and discovered, after I was well into it - that the book had been self-published - and, sadly so.  I think David Swanson has good ideas and important insight.  His book has key research data that does inform its content in important ways - but the ideas and the logic and the history "bounces" all over the place in a way that made it difficult to discern how/why he "bounced" from one idea to another.  The titles of each area are clear enough - but the content within each chapter read, to me, as a scattering of ideas - from various points in time in the history of America - and in the history of the world!  I wish the 350+ text was cut in half - at least - I think a good editor would do that.  Tighten the text and the ideas and - and produce a better book with the same theme.  The chapters, if they were better written, have great titles!  "Wars are not fought against evil."  "Wars are not launched in defense."  "Wars are not waged out of generosity."  "War are not unavoidable." "Warriors are not heroes."  "War makers do not have noble motives."  "Wars are not prolonged for the good of soldiers."  "Wars are not fought on battlefields."  "Wars are not won, and are not ended by enlarging them."  "Wars news does not come from disinterested observers."  "War does not bring security and is not sustainable."  "Wars are not legal."  "Wars cannot be both planned and avoided."  "War is over if you want it to be."

I'm piecing my way - on a causal basis, through, How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness.  Based on several experiences I had this summer in Thailand, I am certain my life is now having - and will have - greater fullness and meaning as I learn to be more mindful.  I work too hard, sign up for too many things, get too involved, and personally self-distract in many significant ways - all to my own detriment.  I'm trying to slow down more - and "take in" what life has to offer me.  I think, every-single-day - about being more perceptive of my life, having and receiving better communication - and of insuring I don't have any misplaced anger in my life.  And, this little text offers several practices (53 of them, in fact) for being more mindful.  As I use a few of the mindful practices, I am, indeed, more attuned to the patterns of my life - and to those in my life with me.  I find myself to be more attuned with people  - and to people - and I find myself to be more "easy-going" - though this is very hard for me.  Robyn picked up this text for me, and I'm glad she did.

And, finally, Creating Capabilities:  The Human Development Approach.  The book operates more at the theoretical level -- though this is important for outlining her perspective.  And, here, even for the sake of my own time, I'll cite another reviewer from Amazon.com who wrote succinctly:  "In Creating Capabilities, Martha Nusbaum provides a lucid overview of her version of capabilities theory, which is a theory of justice built on the idea that a society is just if it enables individuals to achieve their potential as human beings. Capabilities theory stresses both the importance of enabling people to develop inner, personal abilities and their living in a society that permits them to use their abilities. In a sense it integrates concepts of liberty and of equality and of postive and negative liberty, concepts that are often viewed as in tension with each other. Prof. Nusbaum also comments on the similarities and differences between her view of capabilities and that of Amartya Sen.  Capabilities theory is an important alternative to traditional and contemporary theories of justice, including John Rawls' theory of justice as fairness. This book makes the theory accessible to non-philosophers and could become important in discussions of what the nature of a just society and a just world should and can be in the 21st century."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Self-Help" Books - Becoming fully actualized!

I picked up two books by Suzanne Willis Zoglio.  Neither were difficult reads – and in fact, both were not intended to be read “straight through” – but more as resource books for reframing one’s life.  Both books are really more a collection of “wisdom sayings” – alongside stories and suggestions – for improving one’s life.  Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul and Recharge in Minutes:  The Quick-Lift Way to Less Stress, More Success, and Renewed Energy.  Nothing complex here – but good ways to, in fact, recalibrate.  The first ten suggestions in Recharge were great in themselves.  Practice “Morning Intent” – Do, Defer or Delegate -  Learn to really breathe -  Complete One Thing – Throw One Back – Get Physical – Accept a Helping Hand – Get Rid of the Ghosts – Stop Shoulding on Yourself – Plan Tomorrow Today.


The Good Among the Great:  19 Traits of the Most Admirable, Creative and Joyous people by Donald Van de Mark.  I find it humorous to read books like this – because they are really quite simple at their core.   Van de Mark takes 19 traits from Maslow – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs – including his view of those who are at the highest levels of self-actualization.  The traits of “the good among the great” are not new ideas that Van de Mark has found, but his assembly of stories from persons he has interviewed that might have many (if not all) of the traits first identified by Maslow.  A simple review of Maslow’s theory (thought it is criticized) would prove as sufficient as reading the book by Van de Mark.  Autonomy, Loving, Ethical, Unaffected, Private, Detached, Experiential, Realistic, Laid back, Performance and Process oriented, Egalitarian, Jolly, Empathetic, Dutiful, Appreciative, Creative, Exuberant, Joyous, and Transcendent.  But, can anyone, truly be all of these things?  Certainly not at one time nor at all times.  I suppose though, we should all learn to live these traits in the right moments.  But discerning those correct moments takes wisdom itself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Year - within Judaism

At the start of Rosh Hashana, I offer blessing to all persons - of any
faith - and hope for a spirited reflection about what the New Year
might entail by virtue of renewed commitments!


Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Gift of Sabbath!


I'm off to an intentional retreat with good friends, faithful colleagues, and shared partners in ministry.

God has given me two gifts as the journey begins.

As we got to the airport to prepare for our departure, I realized that there were two people on the flight who, many years ago, maliciously and falsely claimed lies about me that they wanted to use as a framework for disabling and disempowering my work in ministry!   Through a period of a few years, I endured some close scrutiny from those who believed the lies and were confused by the subterfuge of those who sought to cause me ill, and am thankful to report that the integrity of my total life experience triumphed over the vitriol of these persons hate.

It is so nice to be authentically who I am - and to live a life committed to the truth of God's work in the world.  I have committed myself to study and service in the Kingdom of God - and seeing those who had willed to cause me harm was a reminder of the wonderful sense of extended Sabbath that God has granted to my life.  This is the kind of Sabbath that has, indeed, "released the bond" - Isaiah.  "Isaiah 58:6 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"

My life is characterized by wonderful, freeing Sabbath - from enemies of my past who I pray God's grace will transform, and who I hope God's love can reach!

God gave me a gift in seeing these people who had willed to be my enemies - by reminding me of all the deep goodness, wholeness and solitude that God has brought into my life in the face of my enemies.  I thank God for the many gifts of so many things, I was reminded of in these few moments.

After our airplane landed at the airport hub for our layover - en route to our retreat - I discovered that one of the friends of my life had a conversation with the very persons who had tried to cause me harm in the past.  Those persons shared with my friend that they were "sorry" that he was my friend!  What a tragedy for them to view life in the midst of their continued attempts to cause harm.  But, as they went their way, my friend shared this story with me.  I shared with my friend how unfortunate it is that people have to live their life in the framework of hate and attempts to hurt others. 

And then, God gave me the 2nd Gift.  I looked down at my watch to orient myself to the time-zone in preparation for catching our next flight.  My watch was showing the time - but not correctly.  In fact, it seems a weakened battery caused my watch to completely reset - reading a date of "January 1st" - set to a Monday default  - and a time that was completely wrong.  A gift!

In some ways, the weakened battery caused just what I needed - I needed my "clock" to be reset as I head off to Sabbath.  I needed to not be "on the clock" and not be concerned about the "hour" of the day - or the day of the week - but the moments of Sabbath that I get with my friends.

I've left my watch on my wrist - with its incorrect time - for the remainder of our days together.


It serves as a reminder to me now - that my "battery" needs to be "recharged.

It serves as a reminder to me now that I'm "off the clock" in these days - and I've been "reset" to the start of a new thing (like the New Year of January 1st) - and I truly receive these moments as Gifts of God in my life - right now.

The gift of a life lived with integrity.  Thank you God.

The gift of my "clock" being reset - as this Sabbath experience re-orients my life.


I am truly, truly grateful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jerusalem - Extending Peace

Jerusalem means, literally, "City of Peace" - I hope for extended peace in and through Israel that it might extend to the hopes of Palestine in the U.N. in these historic days ahead! So that it might be "Eretzsalem" - the Land of Peace.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Break-through Rapid Reading


I borrowed a textbook from a learner yesterday - and then read the text last evening.   Break-Through Rapid Reading by Peter Kump.

I realized as I read it - I have intuitively been putting the basic concepts of this book into practice for years.

I "knew" I read faster than "most" people - but know I understand more clearly how or why I read - and how other people read.

If you want to read more text more quickly - I found this to be a great text.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Who are these Nazarenes?


It is not uncommon for a person to ask me, “What is a Nazarene?"

I will share a few things about who “we” Nazarenes are – that are part of a larger history, of course!  These items stand out as personally important to me.  

Nazarenes - connection to John Wesley and the Methodist Church:

Nazarenes are an extension of the larger movement of Methodism – that extends back to the influential work of John Wesley and the Methodist movement – including various denominational traditions that have emerged over more than 200 years!  There are an estimated 75 million Methodists worldwide.

Nazarenes – who trace a particular theological lineage to John Wesley through the Methodist Church (and social-holiness-revival meetings) are a small denomination that emerged from the larger whole.  There are only about 2 million Nazarenes worldwide.  (For additional perspective, there are an estimated 100 million Baptists worldwide – an estimated 80 million Anglicans worldwide and an estimated 73 million Lutherans worldwide.) 

Nazarenes are just a small drop in the large bucket of Christian denominations!

A few key notes about Nazarene history and distinctive practices that are important to me.

Denominational Name:

The name Nazarene derives directly from the identity of Jesus, who was from the town of Nazareth.  An intentional hope of persons associated with the Church of the Nazarene, was that their ministry would follow in the footsteps of this “original” Nazarene.

Connection to Los Angeles Urban Poor:

The Church of the Nazarene traces direct roots to a movement among Christians in Los Angeles, California.  In the Organizing Minutes of the church, October 30th, 1895, denominational leaders declared (in language characteristic of their historical context): 

“The field of labor to which we feel especially called is in the neglected quarters of the cities and wherever else may be found waste places and souls seeking pardon and cleansing from sin.  This work we aim to do through the agency of city missions, evangelistic services, house-to-house visitation, caring for the poor, comforting the dying.  To this end, we strive personally to walk with God and to incite others so to do.”

Connection to Influential Civic and University Thinkers:

This church was led in its birth and through its early years primarily by Phineas F. Bresee, but connected to others, including Joseph Pomeroy Widney.  (Widney was the second President of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the founding dean of the USC School of Medicine.)

Bresee and Widney had been Methodists.  Both men had been active in “downtown” (a modern term) mission in L.A..  Bresee and Widneay wanted this new church they were founding to be active among the homeless in connecting homeless urban poor with Christian families.

Commitment to Education and Female Leadership:

Bresee, who would stay with the fledging denomination while Widney would return to Methodism, was himself a trustee of USC and an advocate for liberal arts education.  Bresee would later become President of a Nazarene college – and it is of interest to me that the first Nazarene college was founded by lay-women – and not by male clergy - and included liberal arts work alongside a separate (but connected) Bible college.


Important Quotes on Mission to the Poor from P.F. Bresee:

The mission of Bresee was at the heart of this denomination – and, is a reason I believe in the mission of the Church of the Nazarene today.  Key quotes from P.F. Bresee that motivate my connection to the Church of the Nazarene today include the following:

”Let the Church of the Nazarene be true to its commission; not great and elegant buildings; but to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and wipe away the tears of sorrowing, and gather jewels for His diadem.”

“We were convinced that houses of worship should be plain and cheap, to save from financial burdens, and that everything should say welcome to the poor…”

"We can get along without rich people, but not without preaching the gospel to the poor."

"We want pastors who will go out and find the poor that nobody else cares for."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Privileges - Unearned


I shared with learners in my courses this past week - that they will get Labor Day off - because we live in a wealthy America that gives us privileges that we have perhaps not earned.  (Reflection on Unearned Privileges here and here and here and here.)

And today, I sit in a quiet, cool office with time to reflect on the privileges I possess on this Labor Day.

I am thankful for my life - and hope to extend in tangible ways the benefits I have received.

In one University course from this past week, as we got to know each other, I asked every learner to share something about themselves that is essential to knowing them.  I asked, "What one thing is so important to who you are that we can not really know you and not know this about you?"  I shared the following fact from my life as I shared:

If you want to know me, you need to know that I think unembodied theology is meaningless.  Our cognitive ability to think about God has no purpose or function if it is not lived out in tangible ways to make the world a better place.

On this Labor Day Holiday, I am thankful for the insight of wise friends (James K.A. Smith's blog - and John Franklin Hay's blog) who cause me to remember the privilege I have, inspiring me to work for all labourers in our world today.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home with Certificate and Graduate Transcript!



With my Professional Certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution -  and my Chulalongkorn University Graduate Transcript!

Thanks again, Rotary Peace Chula for such a great summer!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2 Days to Graduation


I've submitted my final papers, completed my final interviews, and been to my last few events - just 2 days of engagement and one presentation at the public seminar . . . then Graduation.

This summer I started my relationship with Rotary International, which I intend to maintain for a lifetime, as a Rotary Peace Fellow. 

If there is a person who has interest in what we did – or the coursework we covered – from a personal-experiential review, I would be delighted to share with anyone – including any persons interested in making application to this program in the future.  (Additionally, I am certain several of my colleagues from this summer would be willing to share their experiences, as well – and I would be delighted to connect any potential future-fellow – with my wonderful colleagues from this summer.)

At the conclusion this program through the Rotary Rotary Peace Center @ Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, in conjunction with University Curriculum, I will have earned the Certificate in Peace and Conflict Transformation.

We had more than 2 weeks of engagement in Northern Thailand and in Cambodia (each yar, though, different Peace Fellows may engage different areas in Southeast Asia).  I have listed how and where we were engaged these areas separately.

I have a breakdown of our world-class instructors/trainers for our coursework – but here I am just listing the Titles of the seminars from what we did on campus at Chulalongkorn University, in four separate modules.  We had assignments and requirements due with each Module.  (The modules presented here are in chronological order – but the seminars are presented randomly.)  Our Seminar days were 7 to 8 hours of engagement per day.

It was a very, very, very full summer.  Because I am an educator, used to my summers “free” – I can state categorically, I had less free time this summer, than any other summer of my life!  Full of learning and discernment.


MODULE 1: The Concepts and Values of Peace and Conflict Studies

MODULE 2: The Diagnosis and Analysis of Conflict

MODULE 3: Conflict Resolution Skills, Approaches and Strategies

MODULE 4: Conflict Transformation and Building a Sustainable Peace


One Day Seminar:  “The context of conflict analysis, human security, humanitarian law” 

One Day Seminar:  “Overview of Conflict Analysis” 

One Day Seminar:  “Conflict Analysis: Dynamics and Scenarios” 

One Day Seminar:  “Exercise Work in Real Case Studies: Conflict Mapping” 

One Day Seminar:  “Conflict Analysis Practicum” 

One Day Seminar:  “Trends in Armed Conflict and Peace-building”

One Day Seminar:  “Cross Cultural Conflict Resolution” 

One Day Seminar:  “Harnessing the Power of Religion for Peace-building, or Not”

One Day Seminar:  “Challenges of Putting Conflict Transformation into Practice” 

One Day Seminar:  “The Moral Component of Peace”

One Day Seminar:  “Problem Solving & Different Approaches for Intervention” 

One Day Seminar:  “Appreciative Inquiry & Facilitation in Conflict Situations”

One Day Seminar:  “Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration” 

One Day Seminar:  “Security Sector Reform and R2P  (Responsibility to Protect)”

One Day Seminar:  “Terror Management Theory” 

One Day Seminar:  “The case of Southern Thailand” 

One Day Seminar:  “De-radicalization and Disengagement” 

One Day Seminar:  “International & Humanitarian Law”

One Day Seminar:  “Theories of Nonviolence” 

One Day Seminar:  “Peacebuilding and Peacemaking: Lessons Learned”  

One Day Seminar:  “Political Conflict in Thailand:  Past and Present”

One Day Seminar:  “Human Religiousness: Foundations for Dialogue &  Role in Peacebuilding”

One Day Seminar:  “Inter & Intra Religious Dialogue” 

One Day Seminar:  “’Do No Harm’ in Conflict Response” 

One Day Seminar:  “Gender in Conflict Situations” 

One Day Seminar:  “History & Culture:  From Ayyathura to Siam to Thailand”  

One Day Seminar:  “History &  Culture:  Colonization & Communism in Myanmar & Cambodia

One Day Seminar:  “State of the Art in Conflict Resolution” 

One Day Seminar:  “Defining Conflict Resolution: Classic Modules and Concepts”

One Day Seminar:  “Nature and Types of Conflict – Identifying Root Causes” 

One Day Seminar:  “Truth Commissions and Social Justice – Transitional Justice”

One Day Seminar:  “Capacity Building in Peace building and Conflict Resolution” 

One Day Seminar:  “Evaluation of Peace Programs” 

One Day Seminar:  “Peace Education” 

**Two Day Seminar:  “Tools & Techniques for Third Party Intervention”

**Two  Day Seminar:  “Conflict Trauma” 

**Two Day Seminar:  “Post-Conflict Reconstruction” 

**Two Day Seminar:  “Media in Conflict Situations”

** Two Day Seminar:  “Storytelling for Conflict Resolution & Peace-building” 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., please.

I read from the U.S. Headlines today about the newest U.S. Monument, recognizing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In a totally unrelated issue to the Memorial – less than 24 hours ago – I had an online conversation with a learner in a course I am facilitating about Christian Doctrine.

I will post my comments to that learner here – but will say simply that I think it is emphatically important that we remember the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and not just “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The learner wrote in my class:

“ Dr. King, Jr. was a political icon that kept religion in politics."

I replied:

Dear Learner ~

I start every class I teach on campus with a video that is about MLK Jr..

So, please know that my comment is meant to be corrective in the best sense - and not a challenge to you!

But, I disagree that "Dr. King Jr. was a political icon that kept religion in politics."

Rather, I would note, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a pastor who corrected misaligned politics with Biblically grounded religion!

Dr. King, in all of his sermons and his public writings - was a pastor - a preacher - and a theologian who used his theological orientation - not his "political" ideas - to shape politics.

And it wasn't just "religion" - it was Biblically grounded Christian identity and Christian Theology!

Dr. King shaped politics - no doubt! Yes he did! But he did so not as a politician, but always as a theologian, pastor, and preacher.

The last time he spoke - as with most of his speeches - it was in a church, behind a pulpit.

Among other great things in that final sermon he said,

We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, "When God speaks who can but prophesy?" Again with Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me," and he's anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.""


It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

That marks the end of my conversation with that learner - and here I end this entry with these thoughts.

I wish more memorials were built to commemorate peacemakers.

Though there was opposition and conflict in the episodes of the struggles Rev. King and many others engaged, their struggles were for a more peaceable and just system for life.

I think, as you can tell - it is profoundly important that we remember the Rev. Dr. King for who he truly was at the level of his ideas (his ideology). He was, as much as anything else, and perhaps more than anything else, a person who read from and interpreted Jewish/Christian Scripture.

And his generous and gracious discernment of important broad themes and important recurring strands of key ideas in the Jewish/Christian Scripture, as a minister, shaped his role and place in world history.

Extending Eupan - Reflection on Personal Privilege


Written while on location in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:

I have spent quite a few weeks studying to be in Cambodia – being as aware as I can be of the current situations in this country – while remaining aware of the social/political factors that have shaped its history.

In particular, I have been reflecting on the issues of Genocide that characterized the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, particularly between 1975 to 1979.  As part of our plans for shared time of peace and conflict resolution engagement in the land, we will be visiting the “museum” that commemorates the killing fields, as well as the “S-21” prison, now a museum.  In these ways alone I have been prepared for the reality of death, gruesome genocide and terrible torture that has taken place in this land. 

Our first day in Cambodia, having landed in Phnom Penh, we went straight to a tourist event – visiting the King’s home at the Grand Palace.  Our guide told us his name was “Ritz,” and I thought as we walked through the Palace how this place looked like “the Ritz.” 

From there, we headed out to a great buffet lunch, “all-u-can-eat”  - noodles, meats, rice, potatoes, fruits.  Our group ate and went off for another touring event – visiting the “Russian Market” – a series of interconnected booths with various wares for sale. 

Not being much of a shopper, I stayed back at the lunch buffet. 

I ordered a cold coke and placed my earbuds in my ear and powered my iPod.  

As the sounds of soft piano played in my ears, I watched drips of water condense on my cold beverage, Phnom Penh was humid.

I looked across the room to the flat-screen TV and read the headlines listed in English, as the newsreporter shared. 

“Libya’s Civil War”

“Somali Food Fight” leaving people dead. 

“Syrian Siege” with a report of some 300 dead today. 

As the chilled, carbonated, syrupy drink delighted my taste-buds, I realized I was listening to an album entitled “Escape.”  Here I was – a rich, educated, privileged white-man – sitting in my isolated, Westernized, “escapist” head-phone reality – a cold coke to chill my body and quench my thirst,quiet music relaxing my spirit.  And I was immediately existentially aware that in this same moment, in so many places in the world, people live now in the midst of trial, trouble, and tribulation.  

I knew the S-21 prison was nearby – it is, after all, located in the heart of Phnom Penh.  More than 17,000 persons, average persons who committed no crime and who had no secret allegiances – these people were stripped, shackled, incarcerated, and tortured for months – to death.

 Just blocks from where I sat, only a few short decades ago – in my lifetime!


And in the same period of years, in my life, my country and my life has not experienced torture, genocide, civil war, food shortages, nor intrusions of conflict. 

I wonder, “Do I live faithfully enough into the privilege I have been extended, to extend that privilege to other people?” 


I will try to live my life in ways that are faithful and honest, kind and true, gracious and generous – in all ways extending peace.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.