Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Too Funny -- Russian Spies in Deep Cover

From an article in England's The Guardian:

"They couldn't have been [Russian] spies," said Jessie Gugig [a neighbor]. "Look what she did with the hydrangeas."

You can read the entire article here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toy Story 3 (No spoilers)

Took the family to see Toy Story 3 last night. Good movie. I'd might even be tempted to say that it was the best of the three. More than being just fun, it's even moving at several points. It certainly touches on themes of friend, family, and loss in a deeper, more adult way than the first two films (which is saying something, given that the first two movies center on those themes as well).

The quality of Toy Story 3 contrats sharply with the end of the Shrek movies. While I thought Shrek 2 was pretty good, the third and fourth installments in the franchise were eminently forgettable, IMHO.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Center for Followership Studies

It seems as though there are a bajillion centers for leadership studies, and just as many books and seminars and programs to develop "leaders."

Blah. Jesus marvels at the centurion's faith in Matthew 8. The centurion recognized Jesus' authority not only because the centurion was a man with authority, but also because the centurion was a man under authority as well. He understood authority because he understood followership as well as leadership.

I remember once being surprisingly moved watching the Prince of Liechtenstein kneel at a mass to receive the sacrament of the altar. Ignoring that he's the prince of a really, really small country, the experience promoted me to frame what I think is a pivotal question that I to ask myself, and ask of others: To whom do you bow the knee? I think this is a particularly important question for American men, in particular, who, outside of the military, are rarely called to submit explicitly to other people.

Given the centurion's lesson -- that he learned authority by first being under authority -- I think that this is a critical question for men who wish to lead. To whom do you (or have you) bowed the knee?

To be sure, all of us bow the knee in one sense or another to our parents. Yet as Tocqueville observed so long ago in Democracy in America, even family life in the U.S. is incredibly democratic in comparison to what exist then in Europe. (And, for the most part, I think that's a good thing.)

But I do think that we do have something of a problem in that American society pushes us to rush past our experience as followers in order to become leaders; we value leadership but not followership.

Indeed, I suspect that in democratic societies the experience of true followership is all the more critical for would-be leaders precisely because it is so less experienced in daily life than it is in more aristocratic societies.

But that would seem, to me, to make the establishment of centers for followership studies all the more important in democratic societies than in aristocratic societies, and yet we aren't interested in followership precisely because our characters are so unreflectively democratic.


Matthew 8.8-9:

"The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.'"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nebraska to the Big 10?

Wow. Rumors today are that the University of Nebraska will join the Big 10. I confess, stick-in-the-mud that I am, I always missed the old Big 8, with its OU-NU rivalry, Colorado, Missouri, and, occasionally, Iowa State and KU in the mix. I always resented UT's intrusion into the mix.

That said, I think that the Big 10 will be better for NU than the Big 12. Not regarding sports, but academically. Just about every Big 10 school is academically strong, unlike the Big 12. ("Oklahoma State" - 'nuf said.)

Maybe the old NU joke will become a reality: NU academics will become something that the football team can be proud of.