12.26.17

the poet

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:22 am by Administrator

for half my life, i’ve been making myself out to be
much more than i actually am.

instead of a sonnet or a villanelle, i wrote myself
into an epic free verse with dangling

loose lines and introversions so particular
as to be complex. really,

i was just trying to fill out my form
like a girl pushing out breasts

with her hands, or a boy trying to find muscles
in a soft naked body with a rictus grin.

it’s not like that, and so i got very angry
at what was plain.

i did work that was every day work, and i slept
and then woke so many times

my mind got jarred from being flipped on and flipped off
and started to buzz, like a bad bulb

and to fade it out, i made myself talk, sing, and hum
in the very same tone.

the last half of my life actually began just a year or two ago
with the idea that i am less

than i made myself out to be, but equal to the task
set before me.

henri cole told me to go find my voice, and instead
i found the ability to hum

my way into black and white photographs, the kind
placed like paver stones across the wall

lining spiral staircases that go to familiar places,
like a bathroom or a closet

except that these stairs are for standing in space,
looking off to one side, across a series

of dark pictures grown darker with evening, whose history
of another city or person

seems relevant, seems true, and shapes time, like the fading of light
slow, tender, and perfect, without a flicker.

12.22.17

Year-end reflections on leadership

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:51 pm by Administrator

this follows from my prior entry. it’s a brain dump of some things I have needed to put away somewhere for future application. in no particular order, here is a potpourri of things I believe to be true and perhaps need to understand more with time.

1. I like the concepts of “just culture” and “servant leadership”—but I don’t know what they mean, because I’ve actually never experienced them in an organizational environment. it’s not a knock on the companies and churches I’ve belonged to. or maybe it is?

2. I really believe that lencioni’s belief in the value of trust in driving healthy conflict is the key to engaging physicians. physicians learn, trust, and grow through debate: both the debate of internal conflict with self and the debate among peers. if you are unwilling to challenge the physician and be challenged by the physician, then you cannot develop real partnership with him or her. challenge the physician on his values; challenge him on his personal mission. make this challenge authentic, and you will win the heart and mind of the doctor.

3. I modeled a leadership system after the baldrige criteria—a key, in which categories 4, 6, and 7 were visually represented as the head of the key, while 1 and 2 were the middle and anchoring piece, with 3 and 5 being the end that turns the lock. on further reflection, the metaphor still works for me, albeit not as a sequential paradigm. results, data, and key processes are fundamental to establishing a working understanding of a system; only then does the value of a leadership approach take shape—and only thereafter can the shape of a healthy culture be imagined.

4. jesus is frequently cited as a model of excellent leadership, but I think I have to disagree. this is a man who had no loyal following at the time of his death; he was betrayed even by those who professed to love him, and he died alone. moreover, he spent his lifetime antagonizing the stakeholders who could have most supported his cause, and even to the common people he spoke in esoteric parables designed to confound people. he was idiosyncratic, elusive, and utterly focused on a personal mission that none of his contemporaries could understand. he was, in the end, not a transcendent leader; he was a man on a solo mission, and he accomplished that mission in spite of his obvious shortcomings as a people leader.

5. among biblical men and women, it is the apostle Paul who stands out most clearly as an example of transcendent leadership. this is a man who founded the modern church, supported it through a period of intense threats, single-handedly expanded its mission in order to integrate the Gentiles, and established a vision clear enough and durable enough to survive him for two millennia. the apostle Paul accomplished all of this not simply by demonstrating miraculous signs; he did it by modeling and cascading a mentorship model that was effective in promoting sustainable organizational infrastructure. he defined and modeled a specific vision for authority and leadership; he aggressively attacked any threats to the culture he was trying to create (i.e. Judaiziers, idolaters, and even the Peter of the twelve); and he established the concept of spiritual lineage, a father-son model of spiritual mentorship that supported leadership succession through the ages.

6. I still find jim collins’ idea of level 5 leadership very interesting, as it meshes well with the essence of listening and learning embraced by the Baldrige criteria. but one cannot underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence. the relentless listening and learning required of an effective leader is only effective insofar as the listening and learning do get to that spiritual level, the level of basic anxieties and fears. engagement and loyalty are neurochemical phenomena; and the language that drives engagement and loyalty must impact the brain centers that drive emotional response, time and time again.

7. most fundamentally, I believe that the potential of an organization is defined by the maximal contributions of each of its key members. this potential is best achieved not when they are being directed to a common purpose but rather when they each realize a specific personal purpose that most perfectly aligns with the common purpose. Daniel pink emphasizes the importance of autonomy, mastery and purpose; these things cannot be imposed as much as personally discovered, for each in his own time.

8. in the end, excellence is best understood as perfect worship: it is the unique gift of each person, expressed for something greater than that person, and delivered in a manner that most authentically renders the essence of that person

12.21.17

Keynote

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:57 pm by Administrator

we recently had our quarterly leadership forum, and i was in charge of planning the full-day program, driving the preparations, and emceeing the event. the six-week process was exhausting for me and was of course extra work on top of my usual responsibilities. but i will admit that it was nonetheless a fascinating experience for me, because i love engaging a crowd, and more fundamentally i like thinking about what it takes to move a crowd in the same direction.

one of the things i had to do was to select a keynote speaker. it wasn’t a straightforward process at all. i ended up going with an agency, and i relied quite a bit on my agency contact to narrow the field to a few speakers that focused on the thematic elements that were crucial to our program. after that, a select group of leaders and i went through their bios and previewed their video content. the speaker we chose was a very solid choice, and i thought she did a very good job. for certain, the audience liked her and felt that there was a clear connection between her content and the thrust of the program.

there was one thing that nagged me though at the end of the day, and as exhausted as i was, i couldn’t shake the thought. i’d worked so hard to select this speaker and prepare her so that she could impact our audience. through every minute of her presentation, i was rooting for her. but there were moments she hit that could have been more impactful; there were opportunities for resonance that could have resonated more deeply. i wasn’t happy to admit it to myself, but it could have gone over better, and i only know this because i could have done it better.

i’m very picky about presentation. my direct reports know that when i critique their presentations, i will go to the particulars: how they choose to illustrate data, how long they take on each slide, how much text they place on each visual, how much they go off-script and how effectively they do it. but as picky as i am about presentation, i am even pickier about performance. public speaking ability goes above and beyond the ability to present information effectively. to be engaging, inspirational, and memorable, one has to be not only effective and efficient in conveying content but also skilled in modulating tone, volume, pacing, and presence. for better or worse, i’ve been a performance critic at weddings, funerals, graduations, and sunday church services for decades. i’ve seen people nail it. but i’ve seen many more people face-plant. and what bothers me more often than not is that important forums are wasted when the keynote speaker doesn’t hit the chord that is necessary. that chord is invariably emotional.

i’ve given a lot of speeches and public talks along the way. it’s a central function of my job now, but once upon a time it was just something that i was funneled into because of other things i accomplished. i was the valedictorian of my junior high school, so i gave the commencement speech. i was inducted into an honors society in medical school, so i gave an impromptu talk to my dean and my peers at the awards dinner. early in my public speaking career, i focused on not stumbling over words and trying not to forget what i had scripted for myself. but later in my development, i began to focus on two other things: good storytelling and emotional connection with my audience.

good storytelling requires pacing of speech, vocal cadence, and a strong narrative arc. emotional connection requires content and delivery designed to both project and evoke emotion. both storytelling and emotional connection are skills that can be acquired to some degree; but the people who do them best are generally strong feelers who have learned to be comfortable with expressing those feelings in a variety of contexts. in other words, the best public speakers from my experience are those who are good at being vulnerable, even with strangers. people who aren’t strong feelers and who struggle with vulnerability can still be good speakers, but they struggle to connect with their audience—and for listeners like me, that can be absolutely painful to witness.

i don’t know if it’s the best public speech i’ve ever given, but the one i’ll remember best is the scripture reading i gave my church in baltimore the sunday after the virginia tech mass shooting. i read the passage, and then i closed the bible and told the congregation—two hundred people that morning—about what it meant to me to be perceived as a korean in light of another korean man’s devastating act against humanity. perhaps the most important speech i’ve ever given was at a church service, when i decided during my announcements to welcome all people regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. just that one comment incited the consternation and even indignation of several congregants, leading to a dialogue with my pastor that resulted in my decision a year later to step down from leadership and to leave the church.

if i were to keynote a leadership forum in the future, i know for sure that i’d talk about one of the following things: the baldrige criteria, servant leadership, healthy conflict, how to talk to doctors, and resilience. lots of people talk about these things, but i have a unique way of talking about them, and i can interrelate them as well. but that’s another entry for another time

12.17.17

the last jedi: kylo doesn’t suck now

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:30 am by Administrator

my wife chided me for referring to doug jones as fred jones. i think it’s kind of funny and oddly reflects the point of my entry. doug, fred, or john—whatever his name is, he’s a rich white man with big-money backers who won a senate seat. since when was this a remarkable story in america?

two years ago, i saw “the force awakens” and breathed a sigh of relief, because it wasn’t a bad movie. i had a few misgivings though: carrie fisher was very wooden, the plot was derivative without any irony about it, and kylo ren got his ass kicked by a newbie. especially because of the latter, i wasn’t sure how well the movie was establishing a villain good enough to sustain a 3-part trilogy. the good news is that rian johnson addresses the force awakens’ main flaw early and unapologetically and actually succeeds in integrating that movie’s main weakness into the last jedi’s most compelling story: the story of the real kylo ren.

there’s plenty of story in this installment of the star wars series. no one can accuse “the last jedi” of being insubstantial. there’s back story, side stories, and the central ongoing story about the nature of the force and the jedis who seek to master it. the critics poke at jedi for plodding through its middle hour, but i, like a lot of fans, didn’t feel much of a drag. i will concede that the most memorable scenes are in the movie’s beginning and end, but it’s the meaty middle of the movie that sets it apart from every other star wars movie that’s yet been produced. i think that rian johnson understood that the characters of rey and kylo had to develop significantly if the new trilogy was going to fulfill a compelling new story arc—and he succeeded in this effort, by creating an unexpected and fascinating relationship between them. by the end of the movie, kylo and rey emerge as strong characters and worthy opponents, with enough ambiguity and tension in their conflict to fuel any number of possible resolutions in episode 9.

finn, leia, luke, and poe are clearly secondary players in this story, but even these characters embark on journeys that are individually rich with meaning. finn’s scenes with rose are lively and fun to watch, and they illuminate much about the spirit of the rebellion. leia and luke were one-dimensional in “the force awakens”, but they bring authentic gravitas to the screen in this sequel. poe’s moments with laura dern’s vice-admiral character seem to be stock moments until suddenly they are not. in all of its non-intuitive, smart, and even flip moments, the movie demonstrates rian johnson’s signature creativity and his relentless resistance to the status quo, and every character, big and small, is given an opportunity to help shift this film from the mundane to the mind-bending.

and i should add that the merits of “the last jedi” aren’t simply limited to excellent scripting and character development. the movie boasts two of the very best star wars scenes ever made: an opening space battle scene that is as poignant as it is visually powerful, and a light saber battle in the last third of the movie that is simply unprecedented in its conception, choreography, and cinematography. i actually think that in the years to come, the latter scene will compete with luke’s first encounter with darth vader in episode 5 to be the single most memorable moment of the entire star wars series.

my son rated it his top star wars movie ever, ahead of episode 5. for me, it is a top-3 in the series for sure. “the last jedi” gets my unqualified praise. it’s demanding from the audience, but it delivers vastly more than it demands.

12.13.17

fred jones and the white establishment

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:26 pm by Administrator

fred jones winning the alabama senate race is the non-story that became the big story. and it became the big story for a whole bunch of bad reasons but perhaps one interesting reason as well.

first, the obvious. this should have been a non-story. roy moore was thoroughly discredited during the campaign by serious and credible accusations of pedophilia and sexual assault. it should have been a no-brainer that he would have to drop out of the race. he decided to remain in the race, defying logic and hurting his political party in the process. but in any ordinary context, this should have been a political race that was decided weeks ago. alabamans made this a story because they don’t give a shit about a powerful white man preying on young girls.

second, another reason this should have been a non-story. Fred Jones might be a Democrat, and it might be very unusual for Alabama to put a Democrat in the Senate, and the Senate majority has just been reduced by one member, but the fact is that Fred Jones is an establishment white man. he’s a successful lawyer and a well-reputed middle-aged white man with lots of political backing and tons of campaign funding. why shouldn’t a well-funded successful white man win a close political race in america? it’s not like fred jones was a transgender man of color whose very entrance into the political race spelled bellwether change for the state of Alabama. this was a referendum on a bad man (moore) and a decision by the black electorate to choose the lesser evil (jones).

third, it’s not really a big story because white people in alabama didn’t actually change their minds about politics and the issues; and white people are still the ones with power in deep red states like alabama. sure, a lot of them got turned off by moore, but the incredible majority of them who came out to vote yesterday still threw in their ballots for roy moore. even a striking majority of white women voted for roy moore—which is utterly baffling. in other words, alabama didn’t change overnight. black people decided to show up and vote; and they might very well choose not to show up the next time.

to me, there is one interesting reason why there is a story here to think about, and it’s about abortion. southern white people still care a lot about abortion. they seem to care about it more than any other ethnic or racial group. they care about it whether they’re male or female. and they think of it as murder. it’s a political trump card in virtually every candidate scenario (no pun intended). and they’re not changing their minds about it, even though decades have gone by since roe v wade. there is something about the way that southern white people read the bible that absolutely constrains their ability to vote for someone who supports a woman’s right to choose.

there’s a lesson here for the Democratic party. if they want to win where they need to win, they’re going to have to negotiate on abortion. identity politics are not going to win the Democrats any new votes. they need to neutralize the Republican advantage on abortion and tighten their message on the economy and on the situation of the middle class in particular. guns, LGBTQ rights, and justice for people of color are all important issues to both sides, but it’s abortion that is killing the Democrats where they need the votes. and i just don’t believe that pro-choice means the same thing to Democrats that pro-life means to conservative Republicans. i hate to put it this way, but i believe that the Democrats have to be willing to shift on abortion in order to make their message to the conservative voter base very clear: we are about life, and we’re about the economic rights and opportunities of America’s average man and woman.

here’s the fact: abortion is a very bad thing. no one thinks it’s a good thing. democrats have supported a woman’s right to choose as a manner of protecting the lives of young vulnerable women who will terminate their pregnancies no matter what legal options are available to them. but as the lesser of evils, is the right to abortion worth losing the entire progressive platform over? among many liberal issues i advocate for, the right to choose is both important to me and incredibly nuanced; it is a moral conundrum for me and it always will be. if forced to a decision, i would be willing to allow states to make this call for their citizens in exchange for the broadening of protections under the law for LGBTQ persons, people of color, immigrants, and the extremely poor. it’s a concession i’d be willing to make; and i believe the Democrats have to at least consider what is at stake if they don’t make it

12.12.17

the serendipity cycle

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:50 pm by Administrator

on sunday, my pastor talked about how important it is to move psychologically and spiritually away from the resentment-revenge cycle and into the surprise-serenity cycle. it’s a matter of perspective, largely; one trapped in the former views life events through the lens of his or her perceived entitlements, while one in the latter framework can be more easily redirected from preconceived notions.

i’ve received much counsel over the years to learn optimism. and for sure, the focus of much of the leadership instruction i’ve received over the years has been on the value of hope, resilience, and agility. i’m sure it’s absolutely true that people live longer and happier lives when they are better able to take what life hands them—both the good and the very troublesome—and see the opportunity in it. the world is ruled by those who are forward-looking, future-focused, and utterly positive in their outlook.

i find it all intriguing, as intriguing as it is foreign. i am by nature focused on the past; i mull over my failures more than i do on my triumphs, and i form my identity around my injuries and my scars. this inherent tendency toward rumination doesn’t necessarily make me a more unhappy and less empowered individual. but it does restrain me from intuitively converting reality into future possibility. i’m not a dreamer. i was once misjudged as being an idealist and a dreamer when in fact i’m a highly sensitive pragmatist. the world is full of threats and dangers, and i live my life so as to survive those challenges to my self-preservation.

nevertheless, there is room in my perspective for serendipity. serendipity is for me a critical spiritual experience; it enables me to experience freedom and enlightenment in the midst of persisting hardships. but the serendipity i experience is not the kind that is often described to me—the feeling of being lucky or blessed, despite one’s limitations and weaknesses. the serendipity that i discover through my reflections is the experience of being known, understood, and even sustained by someone or something other than myself. it’s not luck, because i don’t accept the idea of it. the pragmatist in me maintains that destiny is the culmination of all causal factors known or unanticipated. but my journey has surely opened my eyes to the idea of God as an external force, something more than an internally conceived framework for my own thinking. thus, serendipity, when i experience it, is for me the touch of God.

i don’t like to admit it, but whether i like it or not i will continue to struggle with the idea that i am a victim of my circumstances and powerless with respect to my future. the darkness of my emotional experience that comes with this territory is both my strength and my weakness; it is in fact what attracts me to suffering, empowers me in a time of crisis, and enables me to connect with people deeply and at the level of their hidden struggle. i think that i do admire optimists, perhaps the way that old people might envy the naivety of the young. optimism, opportunity, and an entrepreneurial spirit are very evangelical, western, american qualities that i find attractive and overly simple at the same time, and in the end i have not found them to be essential leadership qualities. David, the original poet king, was a victim of his enemies throughout his entire life, and his mix of zeal, humility, and emotional authenticity remain for me the most resonating model of leadership for my own life. men like us will never be surprised by life; but with some effort, we can conceive a space in which we are delightfully both powerless and beloved. this is the place where worship happens. it is the place where God touches us and makes us whole

12.06.17

the lessons of our age

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 pm by Administrator

i got mad during a meeting today. it’s a bit unusual for me to get mad like that, but my sinuses were raging from the santa ana winds and the fires, i didn’t sleep well last night, and a close friend of mine is undergoing surgery tomorrow for a tongue cancer. so i got mad—mad enough that i had to call a halt to the agenda and rant for a few minutes.

what got me mad was something innocuous, something that happens all the time. a dashboard of organizational results was projected onto the screen. the facilitator went line by line through the dozen or so metrics captured on the dashboard. the ten people in attendance nodded their heads, the facilitator paused for comments, and when there were none, we moved to the next agenda item.

i took me thirty minutes to understand why i was starting to boil over. and after the next presenter finished her talk, i asked for the facilitator to take us back to the dashboard we had silently assessed. it just so happened that this was, in my mind, the single most important operational dashboard of our day-to-day performance—and the results were awful. in fact, the results have been unacceptable for years. i think it’s because these critical results have been so bad for so long that we appeared to be utterly inured to them. but i took the challenge to the leaders in the room: do you understand what this says about us? do you understand the story that these metrics are telling us? do you see that incremental change isn’t going to get us where we need to go? this dashboard tells me that we need disruptive change in order to keep our patients—and we need it now.

there is so much change going on at my company that everything seems important. but when everything seems important, the fact is that everything is equally unimportant.

which brings me to what is going on at the national level. everything seems important; but that’s a lie. there are some things that are clearly more important than others. and the key to learning the real lessons of our age is to identify those key things—and understand them well.

there are many things that seem important but aren’t. donald trump’s tweets are sensational but stupid. rex tillerson is not a story. lavar ball and meghan markle don’t make it onto my dashboard.

but there are a few things—just a few things—that i think are really important to understand and to understand very deeply. one of those those is women’s rights. this isn’t simply the right to go to work and not be sexually harrassed. it’s the right to be seen as something other than a sex object. if you’re a citizen of this society and this age, you don’t get to pass Go until you really get this. the “me too” campaign isn’t just a gotcha thing; this is not about powerful, misbehaving men. it’s about a culture so steeped in male privilege that some women have had to take decades just to call out a crime for what it was. this is about sin working its way so deep into our culture that a man like roy moore can claim to be a bible-believing Christian and contend for a Senate seat in the midst of serious accusations of sexual assault and pedophilia.

there are other things that really matter too. Black Lives Matter and the truth of systematic racism really matter. prejudice, abuse, and the legalized persecution of LGBTQ people matter. much of these truths are being swept up in a vague and general political dialogue, when in fact they deserve to be attended to and understood individually and with great care. the lesson of our age, if we’re willing to listen, is simple: to be moral, one must dignify others. to be right, one must recognize those who have been disempowered and marginalized, and one must work actively against the barriers to equality which continue to plague them. there are no bystanders in this effort. you’re on the wrong side of history or you’re on the right; there is no in between. the dashboard of what we are is lighting up in red, and we must have the perspective to recognize when the results show that we are part of the problem

12.04.17

oathbringer, lady bird, and the military-industrial complex

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:02 pm by Administrator

i am on page 1120 of book 3 of brandon sanderson’s masterful “stormlight archive” trilogy. there are less than one hundred pages to go, and already i’m feeling sad because i will certainly miss seeing more of this story unfold.

i’m always one for superlatives, but i’ve saved a special one for brandon sanderson. sanderson is my favorite fantasy author of all time—because he’s so good to his fans. he doesn’t mail it in (like george martin). he delivers on deadlines (unlike rothfuss). i’ve never read an author so invested in the intricacies of his story universe. his layers upon layers of detail are complex enough to inspire deeper reading but simple enough to be visualized and appreciated by the casual reader. unlike most authors i’ve read, sanderson seems to have more than one story to tell; “stormlight archive” is different from his prior works (i.e. Elantris and the Mistborn series) and draws upon significantly different social and metaphysical themes. sanderson’s range is, in a word, awe-inspiring. there’s a special place in my heart for pullman, abercrombie, and of course frank herbert, but i’m going to put brandon sanderson all by himself in his own class. i can’t remember the last time a book challenged me so much on so many levels: cognitive, emotional, and moral. by this time tomorrow, i may simply be a different man; these last hundred pages of oathbringer might just break and rebuild my soul.

lady bird got a 100% on rotten tomatoes, and my wife and i are trying to figure out why. yes, the story has a complete arc, but it doesn’t really go deep enough into any of its major themes to actually make any kind of resonating statement. “adolescence is pretty complicated for a working class girl” just isn’t enough substance for the present day and age. i feel like the genre’s moved past “smart” and “funny” and demands a bit more now than stock characters (like the token brother of color or the cool rich girl). saoirse ronan’s now been in a couple movies like this, where the setting and the mood are just right but the story comes across as angular (i.e. Brooklyn). yes, there were riotously funny scenes, but all the great set-up leads to a strangely superficial and awkward final third of a meandering plot, with a prom scene i’ve seen before and a first week at college that is bafflingly pointless. the casting was superb and the dialogue was at times exceptional, but it wasn’t enough. the writers need to do a serious gut check before the next go-around.

yesterday was the first time in my life that i’ve ever heard a sermon about america’s military-industrial complex. i’ve just got to put it out there like this: take everything you know about me and then imagine a church built on everything i care about, and it will end up looking exactly like the church i’m going to now. we have a pastor who’s a married lesbian. we spend ten minutes of every service in small groups responding to really challenging discussion prompts. we turn up the heat so high on any recently publicized social issue that i am absolutely sure no right-leaning conservative could make it to the benediction. basically, you can’t stick unless you’re progressive, gay friendly, and genuinely interested in racial reconciliation. like i’ve written before, it’s more than a little uncomfortable for people accustomed to a “sola scriptura” approach of totally non-contextual biblical interpretation. i would even say (and won ho put it this way) that we aggressively reject many norms of American Evangelicalism. i like it. and i have to admit, i like it so much that it makes me feel uneasy; when is the last time that i went to a church that didn’t assault me with micro-aggressions?

this morning on my way to work, i put in a cd recording of talks from a very popular local church leadership conference. five years ago when i first heard the recordings, i found them powerfully enlightening. and this morning, i found those talks to be no less insightful and true. at the same time, i heard many things that now bother me. one of the speakers addressed a female church leader in the audience in a manner that betrayed his assumption that she was a youth minister. another speaker extolled the culture of a food service organization that is now well-known for having a CEO who is outspoken against gay marriage. the speakers themselves were white male megachurch pastors. i could hear it in their tone, their emphasis, and their message; they were speaking from a context of privilege. it was overt and impossible for me to ignore.

and yet i had to concede that there was still truth in much of what they had to say. and so something became very clear to me this morning: because God is committed to speaking through imperfect people, God is OK with expressing Her perfect truth imperfectly. over the centuries, God has used slavers, racists, murderers, tyrants, and privileged white men to testify to His perfect qualities. does this detract from the truth that these people have preached and extolled? absolutely. the limitations of God’s prophets, teachers, and kings have absolutely detracted from the power and purpose of His message. but He used these people all the same. She let them represent Herself, She grieved over their failings, and yet She hoped in the fruit they would bear all the same. so too, the white male evangelicals have their inherent blind spots and shortcomings. but i recognize it is equally on me, the listener, and on them, the imperfect vessels, to discern the truth of God and to identify the false and fallen assumptions that it is necessarily embedded in.

one hundred years from now, if there is someone unfortunate enough to sift through the fifteen years of my blog entries, he will wonder at how i could have claimed to have an authentic relationship with God. after all, i’m a tax-paying and loyal citizen of a country that is likely to be regarded in the 22nd century as a tyrannical and imperialistic nation-state. i have openly stated my many cultural and racial biases, and i will be judged for them by future generations. i am a person of means and have had access to a system of higher education that was funded at the expense of black people and underprivileged persons throughout the world; and yet i took advantage of these resources to propagate wealth and to perpetuate this system that privileges me. there is no doubt that my descendants, should i have any, will look back upon my life and consider me a racist, a short-sighted and biased man, a conservative even. they will wonder at the idea that i considered myself favored by God and blessed to know His truth in my own way.

but to them, i ask for grace, as i seek to give grace to the generations of privileged white men, colonists, and God-fearing tyrants who came before me. yes, there is a death at work in my being, and i don’t even know all the beliefs and values within me that serve the purposes of this death. what i do know is this: God has accepted me for what i am and has loved me nonetheless. i cannot for certain prove the worth of anything i consider to be true; but i do know that Christ has touched me and given me forgiveness, and in the midst of my death and my dying, there is something within me that is very much alive. for you, my posterity, i give my entire life, my everything, in the hope that what is truly alive in me will separate itself from my death and come to fruition in your minds. as for what i am, i know that i am largely lost to my time and incapable of understanding what is transcendent. yes, i have positioned myself in my society as a liberal, one who embraces LGBTQ people, the cause of the poor, and the value of science. but even in these beliefs, i am inherently limited, and for that reason i consider all of this a loss. i am not what i think or believe; i am that piece of divinity that entered my life and connected me to the timeless tradition of God’s tribe, and so even when all futile things have been emptied from my form, i believe there will still be something left that is fit for the next life.

be gracious to me, and i will be gracious to the centurions that preceded me. God has used us all. it is a strange and wonderful thing