This post was originally published on www.contemplationcenter.com. However, the website seems to be inaccessible for the time being so I’ve decided to re-post it here in full.
“Contemplation” by Fabian Perez
To think about, and contemplate, life and all its workings is of course not something made just for philosophers and academics. But in essence, it is the duty of all people, from all walks of life, to really “think”. To “think” then is more than merely having a variety of thoughts and ideas in your head. It is more than pondering whether your favorite television series ended the way it should have. It is more than wondering whether you will have bacon or cereal or both for breakfast. Rather, it is a deep contemplation that ultimately flows over into the way we live our lives. (more…)
“Keep it simple stupid!” So reads the old adage that has often times been quoted as motivation to stick to the basics and make sure that you do them right – avoid any complexity. Similarly the great Vince Lombardi has been quoted as saying: “When you have strayed away from the basics, you have gone a long way toward defeat.”
For the past couple of months I’ve really been contemplating what it means to be “a good person” and even more so, the factors that shape a person’s sense of morality.
“Saturn devouring his sons” by Francisco Goya
Generally speaking there are three major ‘models’ or approaches to normative ethics . Firstly, there is “virtue ethics” which suggests that a person being good/bad, moral/immoral is dependent on his/her character and the virtues/vices that are embodied by said character. Secondly, “deontology” which emphasizes that a person is a good/moral person if they adhere to certain set rules or duties. And thirdly, “consequentialism” that suggests that morality is not tied to character (as in virtue ethics) or following the rules (as in deontology), rather, morality is determined by the consequences of given choices or actions. (Various philosophers further elaborate on each of these said approaches, here I’ve just presented a brief overview of each general ‘category’).
I recently wrote a piece for the wonderful people over at Ultimate Youth Worker, about leadership in the sphere of youth work.
Leadership. For an extremely long time now people have understood the importance of having good leaders. This is emphasized by the amount leadership summits and courses that are regularly held around the globe. Furthermore, there are probably thousands (perhaps even more?) of books on some aspect of leadership published each year. Not even to mention the various TED talks on this topic! “Leadership” has become a cultural buzzword and no-one wants to be left behind. And not being slouches, we as youth workers will not to be left behind either! (As one we scream and throw our fists in the air! Yeah, yeah I know I’m getting a bit carried away, but seriously, can you imagine a bunch of youth workers going all “Braveheart”?)
“Witchcraft at Salem village”. Source: “Pioneers in the Settlement of America” by William A. Crafts. Vol. I Boston: Samuel Walker & Company, 1876
I’m often baffled by the amount of commitment, time, energy and empathy that youth ministers and youth workers will spend on various kinds of people. Often people significantly different from themselves. Now… I understand that things get lost in translation. I also understand that miscommunication can happen in the blink of an eye. However, what baffles me even more is that despite all this energy that these same youth ministers and youth workers can spend on some, they spend to avoid others. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we are all guilty of this. I am definitely guilty of this. This is definitely one of those ‘if the shoe fits’ types of posts…
Sam Berns, a teenager from Boston, recently passed away at the young age of 17, after suffering from the very rare disease of progeria . But the thing is you’ll never think that Sam was 17. Not because of the progeria symptoms, but rather because of all the wisdom that occupied his young mind. Despite being afflicted with this terrible sickness that only affects “about 350 kids”, Sam managed to focus on the positive things in life – the things that brought him joy and gave purpose and meaning to his journey.
Every year I get the opportunity to ask the group of grade 11’s that I work with the following question: “What is church?” As you can imagine, the answers vary significantly. The one thing that they do agree on is that church is not about a building. “So what is it then?” At this point the room always fills with a deathly silence. Recently I’ve been thinking and rethinking this question a lot. Especially, after reading some of Donald Miller’s posts about his own journey with the concept of “church” and the fact that he doesn’t attend that much. In this post, I want to answer my own question and rethink the concept of “church”.
The Grade 11’s had to “build” a church, using natural elements, during a camp in 2013