Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir, Volume Two

 Prologue (Continued): Curiosity, the Art of Leadership

   Curiosity is the next question you ask. Curiosity may be the original question but that one may as easily be conventional tact. Curiosity means the mind enters the labyrinth of the soul and then takes a left, where the light from outside dims a bit.

   Ancient shamans in Mexico, the ones Fehrenbach calls “the magicians,” dominated society with their energetic ritual and observances. When they could not deliver on their rain-making promises the magicians promptly disappeared from history. They left behind great advances in carving and metallurgy. The priests who followed them were among the most skilled artisans of their day. Others respected the priestly caste because of their energy and accomplishment.

   A minister/priest/shaman today is a generalist in an age of specialization. The disconnect between priest/shaman is educative and explanatory. The MPS (I tire of writing the minister/priest/shaman thing) reads books by Brian McLaren. His audience reads Harry Potter, or the Sports Page. The MPS fills an ancient place of human need. Her ability to explain satisfactorily what it is she does may only prompt the response, “I can get that on Oprah.”

   To bridge the gap does not require the MPS to sunder the bridge between the ancient and the end-times. I use the hyphenated “end-times” not to signal some bizarre announcement of the (revengeful) parousia but rather to recognize this era of beginning again where we find ourselves is the end-time for much structure. This is the post-everything generation. Baptist influence is in decline, America descends toward second tier status economically, denominationalism expires, the world moves closer together to share its communicable frailty. Unless human history will end here and now, this post-everything must surely be pre-something.

   How can the post-everything MPS shape that which is to come? Can we blaze a path through cyber-space now, intent to find the way to the new day without erosive damage to a fragile eco-system?

   Curiosity is the next question you ask. The first question may be a polite response meant to rebuff without offence. Curiosity is the soul in descent into the gut, there to find the seat of emotion. Curiosity is equal parts inquiry and fastidiousness, with a dollop of skepticism for flavor.

   The Eastern Tao makes a way through silence into the noise of the clanging brass and clashing cymbal. The missionary Paul must have known the sounds. Did he mean to condemn ecstatic worship in I Corinthians 13 (stop reading this at weddings without explanation, or only in part) or did he ask the second question, the one that pricks the conscience? Why do you bang the gong? Do you hope to repel the demons? Or do you have deep, deep love, the noisy kind, like the rushing water you can hear from a mile above the gorge, high up on the mountain?

   What now? What next? The first is a question of exasperation, frustration, despair. What just happened? How much more can a person, church, world take? What now?

   My grandson, Grant had his fourth birthday party. He was surrounded by complete, total, unconditional love. The star of the show, he could do no wrong. When he sat down to open his gifts, any casual observer could see Grant was the only grandson on either side of the family at that moment. He got things you once had to be licensed to own.

   At the end of his orgy of gift opening, Grant looked up and said, “What next?”

   Do what you will with that one. Since he is flesh of my flesh, I put a happy smile on the experience. I think, after two kinds of cake and ice cream, two dozen gifts and an three hour session with giant inflatables, Grant expected something good, next in line?

   What now? What next?

   Curiosity is the next question you ask. Curiosity is the difference between a nervous wreck and a Renaissance mind. Curiosity is the soul of leadership, if, by leadership, we mean the kind of heart that might take us on to what is next with faith, hope and love.



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