Skip to main content

Reflections: District Day with Eric Law

Last Sunday (the 9th) I attended another district learning day, this time with Rev. Eric Law. I've heard Eric Law speak before, at a GBCS meeting, and I wondered what this session would be like among clergy and lay people on the district.

Here are some of my thoughts/notes on the event:

* Scheduling note: Sunday afternoons (the workshop went from 3-8:30 with a dinner break) are a brutal time to schedule a workshop like this. I enjoyed the presentation, but I find myself usually exhausted on Sunday afternoons, and by the end of the time together, through no fault of the presenter, I found myself trying very, very hard to remain focused...

* What do we need for competent leadership in a diverse changing world:
- Self-awareness, and understanding privilege and power, understanding from cultural background
- appreciation of differences as opportunities, rather than as problems
- commitment to pluralistic understanding, still able to make decisions
- active theological reflection on diversity issues related to self, others, community, creation
- discipline in applying skills, models, etc., that will increase inclusiveness in situations
- ability to guide/support community to move toward change faithfully in response to changing environment
- knowledge/skills in technology to enhance interpersonal communication and to build inclusive community (medium is neutral)


RESPECT
Responsibility for what you say – “I” statements. Avoid should. I notice, I wonder. When I _(situation)_____, I feel _(reaction)_________, because ___________.
Empathetic listening
Sensitive to differences in communication styles
Ponder what you hear before you speak
Examine your assumptions and perceptions
Confidentiality (keep it!)
Trust ambiguity – not here to debate who is right or wrong

Mutual Invitation. Leader shares first. Invites someone else to share. If invited, can pass for now, or pass, or respond. But if pass, can still invite. Do until everyone has been invited.

Cultural make-up
Iceberg:
External cultures – explicitly learned, conscious, easily changed, objective knowledge (see, hear, taste, touch)

Internal cultures – implicitly learned, unconscious, difficult to change, subjective knowledge (beliefs, values, patterns, myths)

The first step to becoming inter-culturally sensitive is to know your own culture.

What usually happens: Culturally dominant group doesn’t have to do own iceberg work, because they’re dominant, their iceberg is society’s iceberg. (this isn't a good thing)

Organizational Iceberg
Every church has a profile of what a good member looks like, though they’d never say so out loud.

Exclusive Boundary Function:
Prototype – ‘look’ like us – you’re in
Legal – If you follow rules, you can be in without prototype. Watched. Pressure.
Political – have to get along with powerful people/group

Inclusive Boundary Function: Has a grace margin outside the safe zone
Covenant of time. Ask for time. Doesn’t happen by self.
Thou Shalt/Thou Shalt Not (Set Ground Rules)
Images and Concepts of God (Study Scripture Together)

I really liked Law's concept of "grace margins" and Jesus always working to make a bigger "grace margin" for people. He talked about churches needing to be better at creating grace margins, spaces of interaction for people in the church and people out of the church to be together.

Methoblogger Joe Tiedemann also has some reflections on Law's visit to his district.

Comments

John said…
I read Law's book The Wolf and the Lamb recently for seminary.
Beth Quick said…
What did you think of it John? He mentioned it a couple times, but I've not read it.
John said…
I can't remember it very clearly, but I do remember that the system that he proposed for discussing race and other inequalities would be good, if changed somewhat.

I think that he said or implied that white people are inherently racist and that white men cannot understand oppression because they have never experienced it. Essentially, he made wild generalizations based upon race and gender, which I found to be ironic.

Still, it is a good book worth reading.
Eric Helms said…
I haven't read his book, but from the presentation, I though I heard him say that white people cannot understand oppression as it is experienced by black people, that black people cannot understand it as experienced by asians, and minorities cannot understand the experience of race relations from the perspective of white people. Similarly there may be forms of oppression as experienced by single moms, single dads etc. I appreciated how broadly he defined culture and acknowledged that blacks don't know what it is to be white, nor whites black, nor old young/young old, etc. I believe that is the purpose for the intense listening exercises. We all have cultural baggage that forms our understanding of the world. I heard his primary way forward to be understanding your own assumptions about the world and listening to those who have different assumptions. I look forward to reading the book someday.

Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10 Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright             “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, "Hope: A Thrill of Hope," Mark 1:1-8

Sermon 11/26/17 Mark 1:1-8 Hope: A Thrill of Hope             Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is the glass of life half empty, or half full? My mom and I have gone back and forth about this a bit over the years. She’s wildly optimistic about most things, and sometimes I would say her optimism, her hopefulness borders on the irrational. If the weather forecast says there’s a 70% chance of a snowstorm coming, my mom will focus very seriously on that 30% chance that it is going to be a nice day after all. I, meanwhile, will begin adjusting my travel plans and making a backup plan for the day. My mom says I’m a pessimist, but I would argue that I’m simply a realist , trying to prepare for the thing that is most likely to happen, whether I like that thing or not. My mom, however, says she doesn’t want to be disappointed twice, both by thinking something bad is going to happen, and then by having the bad thing actually happen. She’d rather be hopeful, and enjoy her state of

Sermon, "Invitational: Deep Waters," Luke 5:1-11

Sermon 1/31/16 Luke 5:1-11 Invitational: Deep Waters                         I’m fascinated by the fact that for all that we know, as much as we have discovered, for all of the world we humans feel like we have conquered, there are still so many that things that we don’t know and can’t control, so much that we are learning yet, every day. Even today, every year, scientists discover entirely new species of plants and animals. And one part of our world that is rich in things yet-to-be-discovered is in the mysterious fathoms below – the deep, deepest waters of the ocean. In 2015, for example, scientists discovered this Ceratioid anglerfish that lives in the nicknamed “midnight zone” of the ocean. It doesn’t look like other anglerfish – one news article described it as looking like a “rotting old shoe with spikes, a scraggly mustache and a big mouth with bad teeth. And it has a long, angular fishing pole-looking thing growing out of its head.” [1] Or there’s Greedo, named after