Muslim Extremism or a New Pharaoh? The Future of Free Speech, Democracy and Religious Freedom in Egypt

Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square celebrate the resignation of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak on Friday. (Reuters / February 11, 2011)

The streets of Cairo erupted in celebration as 18 days of protest led to the surprise announcement that president Hosni Mubarak had resigned after nearly 30 years of iron-fisted rule.

What now for Egypt? Sharia Law, Democratic Society, a Military Dictatorship, or something else altogether? Will the freedom and unity afforded by nationalism and Facebook hold? Or will Egypt’s military or the Muslim Brotherhood make a play for greater power?

Excerpts from four of the best pieces I’ve read on the coming new order in Egypt.

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Avoiding a New Pharaoh

By Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times (@NickKristof on Twitter)

Eighteen days of protests lead to rejoicing in Tahrir Square Friday night. (Photo: Moises Saman for The New York Times.)

So Hosni Mubarak is out. Vice President Omar Suleiman says that Mubarak has stepped down and handed over power to the military. This is a huge triumph for people power, and it will resonate across the Middle East and far beyond (you have to wonder what President Hu Jintao of China is thinking right now). The narrative about how Arab countries are inhospitable for democracy, how the Arab world is incompatible with modernity — that has been shattered by the courage and vision of so many Tunisians and Egyptians.

It’s also striking that Egyptians triumphed over their police state without Western help or even moral support. During rigged parliamentary elections, the West barely raised an eyebrow. And when the protests began at Tahrir Square, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the Mubarak government was “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” Oops. So much for our $80 billion intelligence agency. On my Facebook fan page, I asked my fans (before the Tahrir protests began) what the next Tunisia would be. A surprising number said Egypt — if you were among them, you apparently did better than our intelligence community. Indeed, Egyptians in Tahrir told me that they were broadly inspired by America’s example of freedom, but that their greatest inspiration came from Tunisia and Al Jazeera. On Tahrir Square, there were signs saying “Thank you, Tunisia.” So, all of you Tunisians and Egyptians, “mabrouk” or “congratulations”! You’ve made history. The score in Egypt is: People Power, 1; Police State, 0.

But the game isn’t over, and now a word of caution…

Continue reading: Avoiding a New Pharaoh

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Egypt’s Christians After Mubarak

By Cornelis Hulsman in Cairo, with additional reporting by Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan for Christianity Today. (@CTmagazine on Twitter)

A two-year wave of persecution preceded Muslim-Christian unity in the protests: Will it continue?

There is much to make Christians in Egypt anxious about their relationship with Muslims. On January 1, a suicide bomb killed 23 people at an Alexandria church, and today’s resignation of President Hosni Mubarak signals changes that may make Christians’ presence more precarious. It’s no wonder that the country’s Christian minority is praying for peace more fervently than ever.

The demonstrations demanding Mubarak’s resignation, which began after the January collapse of Tunisia’s authoritarian government, were a rare instance of the country’s Muslims and Christians uniting in common cause. Many pastors and church leaders had urged Egyptian Christians, traditionally known as Copts, not to participate in the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. [Some] …even stood guard when Muslims paused for prayer.

Coptic Orthodox Bishop Markos told Christianity Today that he walked out on his neighborhood’s streets and was soon surrounded by friendly protestors. Markos said, “We are all one. There are no tensions between Muslims and Christians at all in this uprising.”

The bishop’s statement highlighted the unity between Muslims and Christians over democratic reform. But the underlying issues of religious conversion, intermarriage, and new religious buildings will continue to fuel deep tensions…

Christians are Egypt’s largest minority, representing 6 to 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people. About 90 percent of all Christians in Egypt are Orthodox, [but] Egypt also hosts a small but influential population of Protestants and evangelicals (more than 250,000), mostly located in Cairo and other major cities.

Many Christian leaders believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political group banned in Egypt, will grow in political power with Mubarak’s ouster. The brotherhood maintains strong support among some Egyptians. Religious-freedom analysts believe the leaders of the brotherhood, famous for the slogan “Islam is the solution,” could very well usher in repression of all minority religious groups…

Continue reading: Egypt’s Christians After Mubarak

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The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gospel of Christ

By Bob Kubinec for Christianity Today. (@CTmagazine on Twitter)

Once an openly radical group, the Muslim Brotherhood now espouses a moderation that might bode well for Egypt's Christians

The recent protests by Egyptian opposition movements have revealed a deep and abiding prejudice in the U.S. foreign policy community toward the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. These feelings are shared among many evangelicals who tend to view all Islamic groups as prone to violence and militantly hostile to Israel and the Christian church.

While it is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s views on a range of policy issues fall short of the American ideal of political liberalism, it is unfair to paint the group as the biggest threat in Egypt to the safety of Christians and the survival of Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative tendencies pale in comparison to the current regime’s persecution of their own citizens.

Although it may appear at first counter-intuitive, Egypt’s Christians could well be safer if the Muslim Brotherhood were a part of the ruling government….

Continue Reading: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gospel of Christ

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Egypt’s Facebook Revolution

By Catharine Smith of The Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost on Twitter.)

Activists credit Facebook and other social media with success of peaceful coup

Shortly after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek stepped down from power on Friday, activist Wael Ghonim spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and credited Facebook with the success of the Egyptian people’s uprising.

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I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him […] I’m talking on behalf of Egypt. […] This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started […] in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I’ve always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet. […]

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Continue reading:  Egypt’s Facebook Revolution

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Jay Barnes, President of Bethel University, on “The Influencers Who Influenced Me”

Series Introduction: The journey toward reimagining faith and culture is never traveled alone. I asked some key cultural influencers: “Who are authors, artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, poets, musicians, films, books, plays, TV shows, or any other cultural artifact who have deeply influenced you and will always stick with you.” Then gave them only fifteen minutes to complete their list, to keep it “unedited.” (Part of an ongoing series.)

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Jay Barnes, President of Bethel University and Consummate Servant Leader.

Dr. Jay Barnes, President of Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn., is an outstanding example of servant leadership. Jay has been a leader in Christian higher education for more than 30 years, both in academics and student development. Before becoming Bethel’s president, Jay served for 13 years as the university’s Provost and executive vice president. Prior to his time at Bethel, Barnes held at Messiah College (Penn), Wheaton College (Ill.), and at Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany.

Jay is known for his collaborative leadership, team-building skills, and student-centered approach to higher education. During his career, he took lead roles in improving student development theory and practices on a national level with the Association for Christians in Student Development. For many years, Jay and his wife, Barb, have co-led counseling groups for engaged students and have conducted workshops nationally on marriage enrichment.

Jay’s tenure at Bethel has also been marked by his deep commitment to racial reconciliation. Under Jay’s guidance, Bethel University began a Reconciliation developed one of the only bachelor’s degree in reconciliation studies in the nation.

With over 6,000 students in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nearly 100 relevant fields, Bethel University is a national leader in Christian higher education

Denny Morrow, Associate Executive Director, ReachGlobal, and former Executive Director of Daystar University (Kenya) asserts: “Jay is a quintessential servant leader. He is laser focused on excellence for himself and the University, but equally important, Jay listens well to others. His rare combination of a strong will and a self-deprecating humor engenders trust for those he leads.” I could not agree more. I’ve know Jay since he was my Resident Director at Wheaton College and have found him to be one of the more consistently Christlike servant leaders I have met in all my years in higher education.

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Jay’s top 15 influencers

Chapel Jai Ho Dance: Bethel's voluntary chapel services attract over half the student body three times each week

C.S. Lewis

Philip Yancey

Henri Nouwen

Jim Collins

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mother Teresa

John Ortberg

The Prodigal Son (painting by Rembrandt)

David (sculpture by Michelangelo)

Good Will Hunting

Under Jay's leadership Bethel established one of the only B.A. in Reconciliation Studies programs in the world.

A Man For All Seasons

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

Dietrich Bonheoffer

John Stott

God’s Long Summer (by Charles Marsh)

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What’s on your “Fab 15″ list?

1)  Your list must be comprised of cultural artifacts readers have access to. You can’t include your Mom, or some other leader who had a personal impact on you, but who readers will never have the chance to meet.

2) Try to make your list in no more than fifteen minutes if you can, but take more time if you need it.

Bethel's 231-acre lakeside campus is highlighted by the newly opened $30 million Brushaber Commons

Pseudo Servant Leadership and Pseudo Celebrity: Manipulating the Paradox of Power

Part of ongoing series: Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God: Servant Leadership in an Age of Self-Promotion.

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A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when others obey and acclaim him; worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you.

-Lao-Tzu, China, c. 550 BC

Lao Tzu first described the Paradox of Power 2500 years before Lady Gaga

“Servant.” “Leader.”  Few words in the English language seem more mutually exclusive. Leaders give orders. Servants take them.  Leaders have followers. Servants have masters.  Leaders are powerful. Servants are powerless.  Everyone wants to be a leader. Everyone wants to have a servant.

But are they really so opposite?

In his classic novel, Journey to the East, Herman Hesse tells the story of a band of travelers sojourning across the south of Europe. Their journey is sponsored by a religious order that has provided them with not only all of the necessary equipment but also a rather unobtrusive servant by the name of Leo.  The trip goes well.  They make good progress.  They become good friends.  On the road and around the fire, there seems to be magic about the group.

Then one day Leo disappears. No one is particularly concerned.  After all, he was only a servant.  Soon, however, cracks begin to appear in the fragile bond that holds the group together.  Tasks go undone.  Emotions fray.  Soon the music around the campfire is replaced by stony silence.  When no one is able to repair the damage, the group simply breaks up.  Unable to continue the journey for lack of leadership, the narrator of the story, one of the travelers, decides to join the religious order that sponsored the journey.  He returns to the order’s headquarters to begin his initiation.

There he finds Leo and discovers that their servant is actually the leader of the entire order. Upon reflection, the narrator realizes that Leo had really been their leader all along.   He was the source of the magic in their group.   Yet, if he had asserted his position as leader of the order, the group probably would have rejected him outright.  However, by seeking to meet their needs the group had willingly made him their leader without even realizing it.  By becoming their servant he had become their leader, not by position, but by influence.  Character had triumphed over authority:  service over position.[1]

This is the paradox of power that has troubled mankind since the days of Lao-Tzu. There is something in the very nature of leadership that implies service.  True leaders, those who people follow because they want to not because they have to, always begin with and return to the needs of their followers.  As James MacGregor Burns states in his monumental work, Leadership: “The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.”[2]

3D films are proof that Hollywood understands the Paradox of Power: meet the customer's need for a unique in-theater experience and they'll vote for your movie with their wallet.

Leadership is essentially a transaction. Followers give their leaders power in exchange for service. We simply will not follow someone who does not meet our needs.

The American political system bears testimony to this.  We call our elected officials “Public Servants.”  If they serve us well, we re-elect them.  If they serve us poorly, we elect others in their place.

Business practice bears this out well. Companies who serve their customers well are highly rewarded with return business and referrals.  Companies that do not meet the needs of their clients soon find themselves filing for bankruptcy.

Hollywood creatives are painfully aware of this process. The best screenplay ever written won’t last a week in theatres if it fails to touch a chord in the hearts, minds, or funny bones of a significant audience.

Faith communities are subject to this paradox as well. People join churches and follow various teachers and rabbis because they sense their needs are being met.  They “vote” for their favorite spiritual leader with their attendance, their giving and (in the burgeoning religious marketplace) their buying.  Churches that truly meet the needs of their congregations grow large and prosperous.  Their pastors become famous.  Their methods and teaching become models for others.

In a celebrity-driven culture, the Tweet is becoming the most powerful voting booth on earth.

But is this all there is to servant leadership? If so, then anyone can do it.  Just give people what they want and you’re a leader.  But are you?  Really?  Is the ability to attract a following by promising and (sometimes) delivering what people want all there is to transformational leadership? If it is, then we are in real trouble.

The paradox of power is the exact process that “pseudo celebrities” currently use to manipulate public opinion for their own purposes. (See, Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God.) “The pseudo celebrity “develops their capacity for fame, not by achieving great things, but by differentiating their own personality from those of their competitors in the public arena.”[3]

Rather than serving as heroic celebrities who actually meet the needs of others through self-sacrificing service, pseudo celebrities prey upon the perception that they are meeting the needs of their followers when their real goal is to meet their own needs to sell more product, enhance their fame, etc. As I stated in the Paparazzi post, In a society hungering for close personal relationships, the pseudo celebrity system delivers pseudo-relationships with people we feel connected to but have never met.” Media outlets create the illusion of accessibility and relationship we crave, without actually delivering the goods. With enough Twitter chatter anyone can be a cultural leader.  Why bother to actually accomplish anything for my “followers”?

High-flying Bernie Madoff carefully managed the (false) image that he was serving his clients

Best-selling business author Jim Collins warns that this pseudo celebrity approach to leadership is a cancerous growth on the future of transformative leadership in America, from the pulpit to the boardroom. Pseudo celebrities are not only “famous for being famous,” they are paid for being famous, and revered for being famous regardless of their providing any actual value to the lives of others or the organizations they lead. They score “covers of magazines, bestselling autobiographies, massive compensation packages—despite the fact that their long-term results failed to measure up.”

Collins prophecies: “If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types… These leaders were ambitious for themselves, and they succeeded admirably on this score, but they failed utterly in the task of creating an enduring great company. Smart people instinctively understand the dangers of entrusting our future to self-serving leaders who use our institutions… whether in the corporate or social sectors… to advance their own interests.”[4]

Jim Collins: "If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types."

But are we really so smart? The rampant tragic decline of American business, banking, government, education, church and media enterprises stems largely from the ascendancy of self-centered pseudo celebrity leaders. Like Israel during the reign of Saul, self-centered leadership wears the crown, while Davidic servant leadership is banished from the halls of power.

Can we learn to discern the difference between pseudo celebrity leadership and heroic servant leadership? I believe we can. In fact, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth provides both clear teaching regarding servant leadership and a compelling example of living it out.

Continue reading next post in series: LOST Lessons of Servant Leadership

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Notes


[1] I am deeply indebted to the late Robert Greenleaf for not only helping me reassess my high school hatred of Herman Hesse, but also for providing the foundation of my overall understanding of how servant leadership functions in the business world. See, Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (New York: Paulist Press, 1977). See also, Don M. Frick, Robert K. Greenleaf: a life of servant leadership (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2004); Larry C. Spears, Reflections on leadership: how Robert K. Greenleaf’s theory of Servant-leadership influenced today’s top management thinkers (New York: J. Wiley, 1995); Mark A. Wells, Servant leadership: a theological analysis of Robert K. Greenleaf’s concept of human transformation (PhD Thesis: Baylor University, 2004).
[2] James MacGregor Burns,  Leadership (New York:  Harper and Row, 1978), p. 461.
[3] Chris Rojek, Celebrity: Critical Concepts in Sociology (London, UK: Routledge, 2010), 16, 52.
[4] Jim Collins, “The Misguided Mix-up of Celebrity and Leadership.” http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/the-misguided-mixup.html

How Men Changed Their Mind about Women in Ministry, by Scot McKnight

Ongoing Series: Culture Making Bloggers you should know

Scot McKnight, award-winning author and blogger

Scot McKnight’s award-winning blog, Jesus Creed, has become a highly influential interchange of ideas regarding the future of faith in America. Scot is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois) and a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham, and is the author of more than thirty books, including the award-winning The Jesus Creed, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, Fasting: The Ancient Practices, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus. to increase in readership. He and his wife, Kristen, live in Libertyville, Illinois. They have two adult children and one grandchild.

When discussing servant leadership and faith today, few issues are as important as the leadership relationships between men and women. Husbands are commanded to lay down their lives for their wives “as Christ loved the Church,” yet highly authoritarian relationships are still all too common in couples of faith.  Still more, deep conflicts over the role of women in ministry continue to plague the church. It is a critical topic for the future of faith in the global village and one that Sue and I are very passionate about.

No matter which side of the issue you are on, Scot McKnight is a great source for nuanced conversation. Here he discusses Alan Johnson’s book on men who changed their minds on the issue of women in ministry leadership.

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How They Changed Their Mind about Women in Leadership

Alan Johnson, well-known and much-loved professor at Wheaton, has edited a collection of stories of well-known evangelicals who have in their own ways changed when it comes to women in ministry. His book has a great title: How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals. Every person who is either “for” or “against” increased roles of women in leadership needs to read these stories. Before I get to the names and the stories, I want to sketch Dallas Willard’s introduction.

First a question: Who wants to tell a story about change? What were the “factors” that led you to shift your mind on women in ministry? What do you think of Dallas Willard’s three points?

Dallas Willard, in fact, didn’t change his mind because he always believed in the legitimacy of women in leadership in the church. He grew up in churches where both men and women taught — though the preaching pastors were male. Dallas thinks the passages used by the complementarians are not “principles” but expressions of the principle that all Christians should be all things to all people. (I don’t entirely agree with that term the term “complementarian” is accurate for those who use it since I think most everyone would want men and women to work together for the gospel in a complementarian way. More importantly, that term today means “hierachicalist in role.”)

Willard makes three points:

1. Those gifted by God for any ministry should serve in the capacity of that gift and churches (“human arrangements”) should facilitate their service. There is no suggestion anywhere in the Bible that gifts are distributed along gender lines. Go ahead and read the gift passages — says 1 Cor 12-14, Eph 5, 1 Pet 4 — and show how gifts are connected to gender.

2. It is misleading to deal with this issue along the lines of rights and equality alone. When it comes to talents and gifts people aren’t “equal” and it’s not about “rights” but about gifts and our obligations.

3. Excluding women leaves women generally with the impression that there is something wrong with them. They may be mistaken in that but Willard makes the important observation that if God excludes them there must be some very good reason — God doesn’t just flip coins. And the so-called complementarians can’t find clear passages where such things are clearly taught.

And I would add my own two cents here. A fundamental principle in Bible interpretation is that we can’t read the “restrictive” passages in the New Testament in ways that fundamentally deny what the NT shows that women are already doing. I wrote about this in The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.

Now back to How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan Johnson. Those who tell their stories are John Armstrong, Ruth Haley Barton, Gil Bilezikian, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Tony Campolo, Robert and Alice Fryling, Stan Gundry, Bill and Lynne Hybels, Alan Johnson, Walt and Olive Liefeld, I. Howard Marshall, Alice Mathews, Roger Nicole, John and Nancy Ortberg, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Carol and James Plueddemann, Minette Drumwright Pratt, Ron Sider, John Stackhouse Jr., John Bernard Taylor and Bonnie Wurzbacher.

In his own introduction, Johnson maps some common themes that he has found in the stories evangelical leaders tell in how they changed their mind. Are these themes the ones you have experienced or hear about? What else would you add? If you could do one thing to help hierarchicalists or complementarians find a larger role for women in ministries, what would it be?

Themes about what precipitated change, and I don’t see an order here — rather, what I see in these stories a confluence of dialectical factors:
1. The influence of a strong, gifted woman in one’s life.

2. The impression of the stories of those who changed their minds on this very issue.

3. A more careful reexamining of the whole of Scripture in light of its historical, cultural and broader theological context.

4. The experience of working side-by-side with gifted, dedicated, and called women leaders, teachers, and preachers.

5. The realization that there is a view where head, heart, and Scripture can come together and honestly confront the difficulties of applying a restrictive position consistently.

Women tell their stories and their stories show some common themes too:

1. They were shadows of males.

2. They were “submissive” in order to attract a husband.

3. They functioned as a supplement to make males complete.

4. They became depressed and struggled over rejection of their callings and gifts of the Spirit.

5. They received encouragement from respected evangelical males who wanted their gifts and callings to find full expression and for them to be completely themselves.”

What do you think about the two sides in this issue. Does the story of their change in position add to the discussion?

See more at Scot’s award-winning blog, Jesus Creed.

Muslim Brotherhood and Secular Reformers Join Forces to Support ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and opposition leader, joined the protesters in Liberation Square in Cairo. (NYTIMES)

Culture-making and faith connections in Egypt’s turmoil became clearer as Muslim extremists joined secular reform movement leaders in supporting  Mohamed ElBaradei as spokesman for opposition to president Hosni Mubarak.  Two New York Times articles highlight the “good news – bad news” elements of this coalition that make it difficult for President Obama and the U.S. State Department to discern if they are helping or hurting Muslim extremism in the region.

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Opposition Rallies to ElBaradei as Military Reinforces in Cairo

CAIRO —Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition banded together Sunday around a prominent government critic to negotiate for forces seeking the fall of “President Hosni Mubarak, as the army struggled to hold a capital seized by fears of chaos and buoyed by euphoria that three decades of Mr. Mubarak’s rule may be coming to an end.

The announcement that the critic, Mohamed ElBaradei, would represent a loosely unified opposition reconfigured the struggle between Mr. Mubarak’s government and a six-day-old uprising bent on driving him and his party from power.

Though lacking deep support on his own, Dr. ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and diplomat, could serve as a consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition. It suggested, too, that the opposition was aware of the uprising’s image abroad, putting forth a candidate who might be more acceptable to the West than beloved in Egypt.

In scenes as tumultuous as any since the uprising began, Dr. ElBaradei defied a government curfew and joined thousands of protesters in Liberation Square, a downtown landmark that has become the epicenter of the uprising and a platform, writ small, for the frustrations, ambitions and resurgent pride of a generation claiming the country’s mantle.

“Today we are proud of Egyptians,” Dr. ElBaradei told throngs who surged toward him in a square festooned with banners calling for Mr. Mubarak’s fall. “We have restored our rights, restored our freedom, and what we have begun cannot be reversed.”

Dr. ElBaradei declared it a “new era,” and as night fell there were few in Egypt who seemed to disagree.

Dr. ElBaradei also criticized the Obama administration, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the message via Sunday news programs in Washington that Mr. Mubarak should create an “orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, while she refrained from calling on him to resign. That approach, Dr. ElBaradei said, was “a failed policy” eroding American credibility.

“It’s better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, it’s time for you to go,” Dr. ElBaradei said.

The tumult Sunday seemed perched between two deepening narratives: a vision of anarchy offered by the government, and echoed by Egyptians fearing chaos, against the perspective of protesters and many others that the uprising had become what they called “a popular revolution.”

Read entire New York Times article here: Opposition Rallies to ElBaradei.

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Egyptian Army Says It Will Not Fire on Protesters

There appeared to be more protesters in Liberation Square in Cairo on Monday than on previous days. (NYTIMES)

CAIRO —Egypt’s new vice president said on Monday that President Hosni Mubarak has authorized him to open a dialogue with the opposition for constitutional and political reforms. The vice president, Omar Suleiman, did not offer any further details.

It was not immediately clear who Mr. Suleiman was addressing his offer to, or whether the opposition would accept. Throughout the protests, the overriding demand of the protesters has been Mr. Mubarak’s resignation.

The Egyptian Army announced Monday for the first time that it would not fire on protesters, even as tens of thousands of people gathered in central Liberation Square for a seventh day to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The extraordinary announcement — delivered on state TV with no elaboration by the Army’s official spokesman — declared that “freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.” Yet, coming from a government dominated by former military officers, including Mr. Mubarak, it raised as many questions as it answered.

Experts said it could reveal cracks in the ruling elite, or perhaps reflected an evolving strategy to resurrect the police, who were back on the streets Monday for the first time in days. Others took it at face value, as a straightforward promise to abstain from any violence against Egyptians, but others saw a veiled threat to those who would go beyond “peaceful means.”

Whatever the motivation, the opposition was not prepared to celebrate the announcement as the turning point it was in Tunisia…

Read entire New York Times article here: Egyptian Army Says It Will Not Fire on Protesters

Nobel Prize Bio of Egyptian Resistance Leader Mohamed ElBaradei

Culture Makers You Should Know: An Ongoing Series

Egyptian Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has Called for President Mubarak to Step Down

From Nobel Prize website: Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization that is part of the United Nations system. He was appointed to the office effective 1 December 1997, and reappointed to a third term in September 2005.

From 1984, Dr. ElBaradei was a senior staff member of the IAEA Secretariat, holding a number of high-level policy positions, including Agency’s Legal Adviser and subsequently Assistant Director General for External Relations.

Dr. ElBaradei was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1942, son of the late Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and former President of the Egyptian Bar Association. He gained a Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1962 at the University of Cairo, and a Doctorate in International Law at the New York University School of Law in 1974.

He began his career in the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964, serving on two occasions in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, in charge of political, legal and arms control issues. From 1974 to 1978 he was a special assistant to the Foreign Minister of Egypt. In 1980 he left the Diplomatic Service to join the United Nations and became a senior fellow in charge of the International Law Program at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. From 1981 to 1987 he was also an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the New York University School of Law.

During his career as diplomat, international civil servant and scholar, Dr. ElBaradei has become closely familiar with the work and processes of international organizations, particularly in the fields of international peace and security and international development. He has lectured widely in the fields of international law, international organizations, arms control and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and is the author of various articles and books on these subjects. He belongs to a number of professional associations, including the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law.

In October 2005, Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts “to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.” In addition, he has received multiple other awards for his work. These include the International Four Freedoms award from the Roosevelt Institute, the James Park Morton Interfaith Award, and the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement. Dr. ElBaradei is also the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and decorations, including a Doctorate of Laws from New York University and the Nile Collar – the highest Egyptian decoration.

Dr. ElBaradei is married to Aida Elkachef, an early childhood teacher. They have a daughter, Laila, a lawyer in private practice, and a son, Mostafa, a studio director with a television network, both of whom live and work in London, England.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2005, Editor Karl Grandin, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 2006

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2005

TO CITE THIS PAGE:
MLA style: “Mohamed ElBaradei – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. 29 Jan 2011 http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2005/elbaradei-bio.html

A World Without Jobs: The Gospel of a Secular Age, by Andy Crouch

Culture Making Bloggers you Might Consider Following: An Ongoing Series

Andy Crouch, Author of Culture Making

Andy Crouch is the author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, winner of Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture and named one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, Relevant, Outreach and Leadership. In 2011 he became special assistant to the president at Christianity Today International, where he has served as executive producer of the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip. He is a member of the editorial board of Books & Culture, a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission Institute, and serves on the boards of Fuller Theological Seminary and Equitas Group, a philanthropic organization focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia.

A World Without Jobs: The Gospel of a Secular Age (Excerpt of article originally appearing in Culture Making, 18 January 2011.)

As remarkable as Steve Jobs is in countless ways—as a designer, an innovator, a (ruthless and demanding) leader—his most singular quality has been his ability to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope. Nothing exemplifies that ability more than Apple’s early logo, which slapped a rainbow on the very archetype of human fallenness and failure—the bitten fruit—and made it a sign of promise and progress.

In the 2000s, when much about the wider world was causing Americans intense anxiety, the one thing that got inarguably better, much better, was our personal technology. In October 2001, with the World Trade Center still smoldering and the Internet financial bubble burst, Apple introduced the iPod. In January 2010, in the depths of the Great Recession, the very month where unemployment breached 10% for the first time in a generation, Apple introduced the iPad.

Politically, militarily, economically, the decade was defined by disappointment after disappointment—and technologically, it was defined by a series of elegantly produced events in which Steve Jobs, commanding more attention and publicity each time, strode on stage with a miracle in his pocket.

Technological progress is the fruit of countless scientists, inventors, engineers, and firms. But Apple has done one thing almost no one else does: put the fruits of insanely complex engineering into accessible form. Before the rise of Apple, advances in computing technology largely meant a daunting increase in complexity and the length of the manual accompanying the device. The 1990s were the age of Microsoft, when geeks ruled the world . . . because we were the only ones who knew how to get it to work.

Apple made technology safe for cool people—and ordinary people. It made products that worked, beautifully, without fuss and with a great deal of style. They improved markedly, unmistakably, from one generation to the next—not just in a long list of features and ever-spiraling complexity (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word), but in simplicity. Press the single button on the face of the iPad and, whether you are five or 95, you can begin using it with almost no instruction. It has no manual. No geeks required.

Steve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope. In his celebrated Stanford commencement address (which is itself an elegant, excellent model of the genre), he spoke frankly about his initial cancer diagnosis in 2003. It’s worth pondering what Jobs did, and didn’t, say:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

This is the gospel of a secular age. It has the great virtue of being based only on what we can all perceive—it requires neither revelation nor dogma. And it promises nothing it cannot deliver—since all that is promised is the opportunity to live your own unique life, a hope that is manifestly realizable since it is offered by one who has so spectacularly succeeded by following his own “inner voice, heart and intuition.”

For complete article see Andy’s Blog, Culture Making.

What Does Being Countercultural Look Like? Gabe Lyons in Q

Culture Making Bloggers you Might Consider Following: An Ongoing Series

Q Founder, Gabe Lyons

Gabe Lyons is founder of the online Journal Q, which serves to educate Christians on their historic responsibility to renew culture, and author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (Doubleday, 2010). His first book, unChristian, was co-authored with Dave Kinnaman and revealed exclusive research on pop-culture’s negative perception of Christians. His work represents a fresh perspective on Christianity’s role in culture and has been featured by CNN, Fox News, the New York Times and Newsweek. Gabe, his wife Rebekah, and their three children reside in Manhattan.

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What Does Being Countercultural Look Like? (Excerpt)

“While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith,” wrote Newsweek editor Jon Meacham in the April 4, 2009 issue, “our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago.”

To a growing group of believers, the changing religious landscape represents a new chapter in the story God is telling through His people. It’s a welcome change from the out-of-control manipulations they’ve experienced when religion gets intertwined too closely with public life. They see it as a new opportunity to send the Gospel out in fresh and compelling ways. Every generation must face this quandary of how to maintain cultural influence, and in our changing world, the conversation has been resurrected again. Let’s consider the way past generations have predominantly related to culture in light of our future leaders.

Separatism. In the past, some Christians fell into the separatist trap. They responded to culture with condemnation and retreat. Removing themselves far away from the corruption of culture is the name of their game. But Christians who remove themselves from the world in hopes of self-preservation fail to realize that true cultural separation is impossible. More importantly, separation ignores the task we’ve been given to carry the love of God forward to those who might need it most.

Antagonism. Some Christians see little in the current culture worth redeeming and have decided to fight against almost everything culture promotes. Offended by our current cultural disposition, they want to flip over the tables of society instead of negotiating the difficult terrain of working it out from within. By default, they are known for being great at pointing out the problems of society, but they rarely offer good or practical solutions and alternatives that promote a better way of life. They succeed in stating clearly what they are against, but their Achilles heel is suggesting alternatives that embody what they are for.

Relevance. Others have gone to the opposite extreme by falling into the “relevance trap.” In my estimation, this is probably the larger threat for Christian leaders today. In an effort to appeal to outsiders, some Christians simply copy culture. They become a Xerox of what they perceive as hip in hopes that people will perceive them — and their organizations, ministries, and churches — as “cool” and give them a chance. Unfortunately, this pursuit of pop-culture removes the church from its historically prophetic position in society. Relating to the world by following the following the world is a recipe for disaster.

Countercultural. The next generation of Christians aren’t separatists, antagonists, or striving to be “relevant.” Instead, they are countercultural as they advance the common good in society. The next Christians see themselves as salt, preserving agents actively working for restoration in the middle of a decaying culture. They attach themselves to people and structures that are in danger of rotting while availing themselves to Christ’s redeeming power to do work through them. They understand that by being restorers they fight against the cultural norms and often flow counter to the cultural tide. But they feel that, as Christians, they’ve been called to partner with God in restoring and renewing everything they see falling apart.

Paradoxically, in our current cultural context, this not only opens up more people to personal salvation, but it also sustains a God-glorifying testimony to the world of His restoration power at work. It’s truly good news to the world. Rather than fighting off culture to protect an insular Christian community, they are fighting for the world to redeem it. This is the essence of being what pastor Tim Keller refers to as “a counterculture for the common good.”

Read complete article in Q.

For more on how the next Christians are being countercultural, order The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons.

Rebuilding Haiti One Child at a Time

A Port-au-Prince survivor: The earthquake had a devastating impact on Haiti's already vulnerable children (Ivanoh Demers/Montreal La Presse/Associated Press)

Haiti has been very much in the news this week as we mark the one-year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that devastated this already struggling island nation. Short-term efforts to help rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure and housing are still desperately needed. However, before the news cycle ends and the devastation fades from public memory, I want to ask you to consider being part of long-term strategy for Haiti’s recovery by sponsoring a child from Haiti.

As many of you know, Sue and I have a long association with Compassion International: an international relief agency specializing in locally directed child sponsorships.  Compassion’s unique strategy enables them to direct over 80% of all donations directly to local relief. Their efforts have earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator: putting them in the top 1% of all international relief agencies.

Micaiah Hesed with our Peruvian Compassion daughter, Melanie.

My daughter, actress/singer Micaiah Hesed, and I speak and sing for Compassion (guess who sings) and have witnessed their in-country work first-hand. (See picture.) I cannot begin to express my enthusiasm for Compassion’s work as Two Handed Warriors building faith and making culture in Haiti.

Long before last year’s earthquake, Compassion was on the ground exerting significant culture-making leadership in Haiti. Compassion’s 40 years of work in Haiti salted the nation with over 50,000 graduates of their child sponsorship program. They now comprise a significant percentage of the leaders of this devastated nation.

Compassion sponsors now support over 64,000 children in Haiti, but it is not enough. Our family already sponsors three Compassion children around the globe, but we have recently added a fourth, a six-year-old Haitian girl named, Neïsa.

The Newest Member of the Stratton Family, Neïsa, from Port-au-Prince.

Would you be willing to join Sue, Micaiah, and I in contributing to Haiti’s long-term recovery by sponsoring a Haitian child? Simply click this Compassion link and select a precious child to become part of your family.

You will never regret it.

Grace and great mercy,

Gary, Sue, and Micaiah

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Next Post: Buried Alive: 64 Hours in the Rubble of the Haitian Earthquake

Buried in Haiti rubble: 64 Hours of Unshaken Faith

Haiti’s earthquake made our family’s connection to Compassion International even more personal. One of my former students, filmmaker and Compassion worker,  Dan Woolley (Twitter Tag, @webguydan), was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.  Dan spent the nearly three days trapped in an elevator shaft buried beneath six stories of rubble.

In his new book, Unshaken: Rising from the Ruins of Haiti’s Hotel Montana, Dan describe his work in Haiti and and the remarkable ordeal that led to his writing his goodbyes to his wife and children on his IPhone.

“I spit out the blood and dust that coats my mouth, but I can’t spit out the fear. Buried beneath six stories of rubble, the remains of what was once the Hotel Montana, I’m hanging on to the realization that I lived through an earthquake. I survived! But I also know that if I want to make it out of this black tomb alive, if I ever hope to see my family again, it will take a miracle — a series of miracles. Miracles I’m not sure I have the faith to believe in…”

To read complete click: Haiti, Raising from the Rubble.

Also available: Today Show and Fox News interviews with Dan and his wife, Christina.

Next post in the series:  A Long Term Strategy for Rebuilding Haiti One Child at a Time

The Paradox of Power: A Cure for the Cancer of Pseudo Celebrity?

A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when others obey and acclaim him; worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you.

-Lao-Tzu, China, c. 550 BC

Lao Tzu first described the Paradox of Power 2500 years before Lady Gaga

“Servant.” “Leader.”  Few words in the English language seem more mutually exclusive. Leaders give orders. Servants take them.  Leaders have followers. Servants have masters.  Leaders are powerful. Servants are powerless.  Everyone wants to be a leader. Everyone wants to have a servant.

But are they really so opposite?

In his classic novel, Journey to the East, Herman Hesse tells the story of a band of travelers sojourning across the south of Europe. Their journey is sponsored by a religious order that has provided them with not only all of the necessary equipment but also a rather unobtrusive servant by the name of Leo.  The trip goes well.  They make good progress.  They become good friends.  On the road and around the fire, there seems to be magic about the group.

Then one day Leo disappears. No one is particularly concerned.  After all, he was only a servant.  Soon, however, cracks begin to appear in the fragile bond that holds the group together.  Tasks go undone.  Emotions fray.  Soon the music around the campfire is replaced by stony silence.  When no one is able to repair the damage, the group simply breaks up.  Unable to continue the journey for lack of leadership, the narrator of the story, one of the travelers, decides to join the religious order that sponsored the journey.  He returns to the order’s headquarters to begin his initiation.

There he finds Leo and discovers that their servant is actually the leader of the entire order. Upon reflection, the narrator realizes that Leo had really been their leader all along.   He was the source of the magic in their group.   Yet, if he had asserted his position as leader of the order, the group probably would have rejected him outright.  However, by seeking to meet their needs the group had willingly made him their leader without even realizing it.  By becoming their servant he had become their leader, not by position, but by influence.  Character had triumphed over authority:  service over position.[1]

This is the paradox of power that has troubled mankind since the days of Lao-Tzu. There is something in the very nature of leadership that implies service.  True leaders, those who people follow because they want to not because they have to, always begin with and return to the needs of their followers.  As James MacGregor Burns states in his monumental work, Leadership: “The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.”[2]

3D films are proof that Hollywood understands the Paradox of Power: meet the customer's need for a unique in-theater experience and they'll vote for your movie with their wallet.

Leadership is essentially a transaction. Followers give their leaders power in exchange for service. We simply will not follow someone who does not meet our needs.

The American political system bears testimony to this.  We call our elected officials “Public Servants.”  If they serve us well, we re-elect them.  If they serve us poorly, we elect others in their place.

Business practice bears this out well. Companies who serve their customers well are highly rewarded with return business and referrals.  Companies that do not meet the needs of their clients soon find themselves filing for bankruptcy.

Hollywood creatives are painfully aware of this process. The best screenplay ever written won’t last a week in theatres if it fails to touch a chord in the hearts, minds, or funny bones of a significant audience.

Faith communities are subject to this paradox as well. People join churches and follow various teachers and rabbis because they sense their needs are being met.  They “vote” for their favorite spiritual leader with their attendance, their giving and (in the burgeoning religious marketplace) their buying.  Churches that truly meet the needs of their congregations grow large and prosperous.  Their pastors become famous.  Their methods and teaching become models for others.

In a celebrity-driven culture, the Tweet is becoming the most powerful voting booth on earth.

But is this all there is to servant leadership? If so, then anyone can do it.  Just give people what they want and you’re a leader.  But are you?  Really?  Is the ability to attract a following by promising and (sometimes) delivering what people want all there is to transformational leadership? If it is, then we are in real trouble.

The paradox of power is the exact process that “pseudo celebrities” currently use to manipulate public opinion for their own purposes. (See, Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God.) “The pseudo celebrity “develops their capacity for fame, not by achieving great things, but by differentiating their own personality from those of their competitors in the public arena.”[3] Rather than serving as heroic celebrities who actually meet the needs of others through self-sacrificing service, pseudo celebrities prey upon the perception that they are meeting the needs of their followers when their real goal is to meet their own needs to sell more product, enhance their fame, etc. As I stated in the Paparazzi post, In a society hungering for close personal relationships, the pseudo celebrity system delivers pseudo-relationships with people we feel connected to but have never met.” Media outlets create the illusion of accessibility and relationship we crave, without actually delivering the goods. With enough Twitter chatter anyone can be a cultural leader.  Why bother to actually accomplish anything for my “followers”?

High-flying Bernie Madoff carefully managed the (false) image that he was serving his clients

Best-selling business author Jim Collins warns that this pseudo celebrity approach to leadership is a cancerous growth on the future of transformative leadership in America, from the pulpit to the boardroom. Pseudo celebrities are not only “famous for being famous,” they are paid for being famous, and revered for being famous regardless of their providing any actual value to the lives of others or the organizations they lead. They score “covers of magazines, bestselling autobiographies, massive compensation packages—despite the fact that their long-term results failed to measure up.”

Collins prophecies: “If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types… These leaders were ambitious for themselves, and they succeeded admirably on this score, but they failed utterly in the task of creating an enduring great company. Smart people instinctively understand the dangers of entrusting our future to self-serving leaders who use our institutions… whether in the corporate or social sectors… to advance their own interests.”[4]

Jim Collins: "If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types."

But are we really so smart? The rampant tragic decline of American business, banking, government, education, church and media enterprises stems largely from the ascendancy of self-centered pseudo celebrity leaders. Like Israel during the reign of Saul, self-centered leadership wears the crown, while Davidic servant leadership is banished from the halls of power.

Can we learn to discern the difference between pseudo celebrity leadership and heroic servant leadership? I believe we can. In fact, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth provides both clear teaching regarding servant leadership and a compelling example of living it out.

Continue reading next post in series: LOST Lessons of Servant Leadership

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Notes


[1] I am deeply indebted to the late Robert Greenleaf for not only helping me reassess my high school hatred of Herman Hesse, but also for providing the foundation of my overall understanding of how servant leadership functions in the business world. See, Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (New York: Paulist Press, 1977). See also, Don M. Frick, Robert K. Greenleaf: a life of servant leadership (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2004); Larry C. Spears, Reflections on leadership: how Robert K. Greenleaf’s theory of Servant-leadership influenced today’s top management thinkers (New York: J. Wiley, 1995); Mark A. Wells, Servant leadership: a theological analysis of Robert K. Greenleaf’s concept of human transformation (PhD Thesis: Baylor University, 2004).
[2] James MacGregor Burns,  Leadership (New York:  Harper and Row, 1978), p. 461.
[3] Chris Rojek, Celebrity: Critical Concepts in Sociology (London, UK: Routledge, 2010), 16, 52.
[4] Jim Collins, “The Misguided Mix-up of Celebrity and Leadership.” http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/the-misguided-mixup.html