UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

Storycentric arts

The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

Teaching About Peacemaking Through Song Today we’d like to feature a song from Freedom to Lead International®‘s (FTL) most recent trip to Bamako, Mali. It is here where indigenous musicians developed culture specific songs to go along with FTL’s leadership development module on Peacemaking. The Lyrics “Avoid the Slippery Slopes,” says the lyrics of today’s song. And just what are the slippery slopes? The slippery slopes are two natural responses to conflict: “to fight” and “to take flight.” However, these are responses that a wise leader needs to learn to avoid. Instead, a good leader will seek the narrow path that leads to reconciliation. FTL’s The Garden Project curriculum uses the image of a muddy path with steep, slippery slopes on either side in order to teach leaders the difficulty of navigating conflict and moving toward resolution (see below). The Musicians This team of Bambara musicians from Bamako, Mali created today’s

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Lessons from a Zombie

A few weeks ago I was sitting on a plane watching the recent movie release, Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials. One of my sons recommended it. The opening scenes of Maze Runner occur in a devastated and desolate urban landscape with towering skyscrapers toppled into each other; the wealth and highest architectural achievements of a previous generation crumbling to dust. Additionally, many human inhabitants have mutated into something else – something diseased and contagious with a voracious appetite to devour those who are normal and healthy. I was surprised and at first annoyed that this was yet another story of twenty-somethings dealing with a post-apocalyptic landscape; a landscape that included zombie-like creatures (which are never called zombies in this film by-the-way). I groaned at this addition to a long list of similar films and video games. Suddenly it hit me – what the stories of this genre have in

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Has literacy blinded us to brilliance that “refuses to be spelled out”?

Western culture celebrates the production of knowledge, and literacy exponentially multiplies the possibilities for the refinement and application of this knowledge, thus enabling new discoveries. But has this literacy-bound process caused us to be blind to systems of knowledge that are not written down? Do we ignore brilliance in those around us because their expertise is not reproduced in literate forms? Or worse, do we treat those around us with disdain when the artistry of their work should produce admiration and respect? What about the plumber whose soldering for your bathroom shower looks like a work of art? Or the auto mechanic whose lifetime of experience enables him to diagnose and repair a condition that has confounded computer diagnosis and testing? Or the backhoe operator who can operate a machine with such grace and precision that they can “feel” that buried iron pipe through heavy equipment as clearly as we

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A Church Led By Scholars

A Church Led By Scholars

A group of church leaders are dynamically impacting a hostile tribe of eight million people in northeast India. They are putting their lives on the line every day as they proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel. And most of them cannot read. Sound familiar? Two thousand years ago, the first apostles were former fishermen, tax collectors, and at least one Zealot. We don’t know the occupation of all the others, but certainly Jesus did not entrust the future of the church exclusively to scholars. Blue-collar workers led powerful faith communities. So why is the church today led primarily by scholars? The main reason is the printing press. The government once controlled the church, but that ended when the printing press was invented and people could read the Bible for themselves. Since scholars were the only people who could read, they got the job of church leadership by default. Church leadership went

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Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Several years ago, my wife Tina and I visited Broadway to see the musical Wicked. This show is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her early history in the land of Oz. Born with an unnatural shade of green, Elphaba is misunderstood and ostracized. When she goes off to school, she ends up rooming with the popular Galinda, later to become The Good Witch. Galinda inspires Elphaba to travel to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. Elphaba’s only desire is to work with the Wizard, the Great and Powerful Oz. Of course, the Wizard is not so great and powerful. He is in fact a fraud who turns out to be the most insidious sort of evil there is. The matinee show we attended was packed; the story and the music were superb. To date,

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Another Dent In the Universe

Another Dent In the Universe

Steve Jobs, digital visionary and legendary founder of Apple, once said about his company, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe.” Jim Bowman, communication visionary and founder of Scriptures in Use, has put another dent in the universe. Jim was a successful advertising executive with Tucson Newspapers. His wife Carla was a tenured teacher in the Tucson school system. They retired from their careers in 1987 and went as missionaries to serve the native peoples of Latin America. Communicating the Scriptures: Soon after Jim arrived in Mexico, he recognized that communication was difficult. It wasn’t the language – Jim is fluent in Spanish – but most of the men, women, and young people whom he was trying to reach either could not or did not read. So Jim began to communicate the Scriptures through storytelling, drama, and music. The response was immediate and dramatic. He developed a program

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Hollywood Tells Better Stories

Hollywood Tells Better Stories

  Photo Credit: Tom Rydquist Ministry leaders from several African nations recently told me that story plays a vital role both in shaping and in preserving their cultures. Like all communities, most of their shared core beliefs are passed from generation to generation through true stories, myths, and songs. These narratives embody the essence of what they view as important to their children and grandchildren. Even as they welcome education that brings socio-economic advancement, these leaders are concerned that they avoid the mistake of teaching their succeeding generations with a literate, conceptual approach that disconnects them from their own story. These leaders have analyzed their western neighbors well. To illustrate, story has contributed dramatically to western culture’s evolving views of acceptable sexual behavior within the span of a generation. Our collective perception of sex outside the bonds of traditional marriage has morphed from predominantly negative to overwhelmingly positive. Hollywood’s producers,

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