Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Fault Line

From a Leadership article about Steve Jobs:

"In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church's pastor, 'If I raise my finger, will God know which one I'm going to raise even before I do it?'

"The pastor answers, 'Yes, God knows everything.'

"Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, 'Well, does God know about this and what's going to happen to those children?'

"'Steve, I know you don't understand, but yes, God knows about that.'"

The pastor's answer badly underestimated the young teen's intellect and left him unsatisfied. According to Isaacson, Jobs walked away from the church that day and never returned.

For the pastor, that brief exchange was likely incidental and forgettable. Yet it was a turning point that would point Steve Jobs toward eastern philosophy.

Kent comments:

I am very sorry about Steve Jobs.  I am never happy to see anyone abandon the faith.  But it is not at all clear how this little exchange would “point Steve Jobs toward eastern philosophy.”  God does know about deprivations and evils in this world.  Should we pretend that He does not?

There seems to be a never-ending analysis among Christians that parallels the author’s evaluation of this episode.  “If only we had used a different word.  If only I had turned a different phrase.”  In other words, if only Christians could refine their marketing and presentation techniques, think of how many people would accept God’s grace!

While there is nothing wrong, of course, with making the best presentation of the Christian faith we can, there is an important factor that is ignored here:  the individual will.  When you read this rest of this article, you learn that much of Steve Jobs’ character was at odds with the Christian faith.  To be a Christian, Jobs would have needed to repent (as does anyone) of many of his attitudes and actions.

And Steve Jobs was not willing to do that.  It’s sad, but its not the fault of a minister’s Sunday School class.

It was Steve Jobs fault.


TucsonJim said...

And recall how Jobs' death was quickened by his Eastern alternate medical choices. "Alternate" in fact means actions for which there are no reason to think they're valid because if there were any reason to believe those opinions would be called "mainstream." Much like the "alternate" medical advice "Christian" doctors gave Terri Schiavo's family.

In a world where we insist all opinions are respected, we've become nothing but a world of "alternate" opinions and random best practices. Let's not confuse today's relativist culture with a pluralistic one (where differing opinions are not just tolerated but encouraged). In a pluralistic society, everyone has the fundamental right to be wrong, while in a relativistic society everyone has the completely goofy right to be right, all the time. The narrow road of truth (as per real science or real religion, which should agree if true) is instead about discerning (or discriminating) peacock wishful thinking and weasel smoke blowing from truth, love, and God. Alas, surveys by George Barna (the most respected Christian statistician) show ideas about who Jesus is, what grace is and how it works, sin, forgiveness, faith, repentance, obedience, etc. varies today with every Christian.

For other examples, the book Dead Aid presents the fact how science has proved for decades it is sadly mostly "Christian" relief efforts that have caused violence and hunger in Africa (providing fish instead of teaching people how to fish). In the same way, science has shown for decades that the best ways to increase violence and drug use in our schools are Zero Tolerance, DARE, and adventure camps - exactly how we spend our money, while the only way to make our schools better - Multisystemic Therapy - is never used. WHY?!?

Because we look only for solutions that are easy and make us feel good rather than wait for godly instruction for what might actually work. It is a basic fact in marketing for charitable dollars that ads should never talk about doing good work but only about the good feelings people will get by giving up their money.

The truth is trying to be happy can only make us misserable. If any business wrote a mission statement "We will make the most money by charging customers the most we can, paying vendors the least we can, and keeping most of the profits for the executives," we all know that business would quickly fail. And yet, we ALL similarly chose our jobs, our friends, and charitable efforts... we NEVER use Luke 9:23 "Then He said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" And then, we quickly sweep our failures under the rug.

What we say and do does matter! And so, we need to make greater efforts. Instead of giving quick feel good and easy answers like "Yes, God knows everything" we should instead pause for guidance (starting with the assumption we always need some help) and perhaps end up instead saying, "Would you like me to help you research that?"

Life be the journey.

TucsonJim said...

I forgot to mention how Harvard's Prof Rosenthal proved 50 years ago only teachers (and not students) and only teachers are wholly responsible for grades (see Pygmalion Effect, Hawthorne Effect, or Sweeney's Miracle). And yet, today we still blame the students (as does Kent). WHY?!?

Because we clearly lie when we say we love others ... Oh, we love them but just not as much as ourselves. One of the best (even though arbitrary) predictor for becoming a top hockey player is simply being born in January (5x more likely than those born in November or December), or August for baseball (almost 2x being born in July), or September for soccer (moved to January in 2007). Because, young kids a year older than other players in the same age group are stronger and get more coaching attention. Whether athletic or academic, from ballet to surgery, top performers nearly always end up to be made, not born; "it turns out talent has been greatly overrated" (see the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, 2006).

And so, pagan Asian mothers place far more emphasis on hard work and cooperation than do Christian American mothers who instead prefer to believe in being born better (gifted) and blaming the victims (or reprobate). In 1970, William Ryan wrote in Blaming the Victim, "Despite all their fancy words, it's still bigotry." It's certainly not biblical or godly, which are measured primarily by our ability to succeed.

Christ noted two people praying in a temple: one who could not face God and tearfully begged forgiveness for doing everything wrong and another confident of his own righteousness (Luke 18:9-14). Christ said only the first person had a right relationship with God. "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

TucsonJim said...

I hope Kent can excuse my harping on this issue. It's not personal but I think it is core to what Christianity / life should be about.

Kent said, "It was Steve Jobs fault."

Again, it's not personal, but Kent says this because he is a crazy, mean, lying, SOB (yea, I know that really sounds personal). Alas, you're just as bad.

Malcolm Gladwell writes how no more than five percent of our choices are rational. Dr. Stanley Milgram showed two thirds of us would torture a stranger to death if told to and the rest would go at least half way. Dr. Paul Ekman showed you lie three times every ten minutes. Plus, the MMPI (the grandfather of all personality tests) uses as evidence of a lying personality the failure to admit the fear of getting caught is the only thing keeping you from sneaking into a movie theater without paying as science has long documented you all know deep down (if honest) what thieves you are.

Is it that I just don't like people?

Well, the only way I could like people is to assume the problem is with me – leaving me a codependent, overworked, depressed neurotic toiling to help. And, two thirds of us are exactly such dissociated neurotics (half clinically) with doctor visits more often the result of neurotic stress than even colds.

But, not liking people would only create a persecuted personality disorder at high risk for addictions and reckless behavior as an emotional vampire. And, a third of us prefer jobs but to only control others in counseling, teaching, law enforcement, religion, & management (with half clinically so disordered).

Why are there only these two insane choices?!? Being raised solely on Entity Theory attitudes left us with only the options of seeing the problem in ourselves (to still "love" others) or to blame others. Failing to separate problems from individuals, we end up only seeing people as disobedient, lazy, embarrassing, or just looking for attention. And then, we say things like "It was Steve Jobs fault." We should, however, see "failing" individuals but in environmental terms of whether the task is too hard, if they are stressed, or just in need of help. We should never praise or criticize ANYONE, only their deeds or value choices. Otherwise, we separate the world into "good" and "bad" or perhaps "saved" and "unsaved." Paul writes we should have learned from the Jewish mistake of separating the world into Chosen and Gentile to NEVER to do this. Then, Jobs' "fault" become OUR fault (his AND ours).

This, however, requires a more complex Systems Theory perspective.

TucsonJim said...

It is usually believed some gifted biology (or spiritually predestination) decides our destiny. People often say, "I could never be good at ..." and children typically end up seeing themselves in only black and white terms (growing up unable to do simple tasks after "proving" themselves not good enough by failing any difficult tasks). We must instead promote an opposing belief in incremental mastery. Neuroscientists have shown skills and personality have empirically little to do with the neurons we were born with. Teachers', Pastors', and Evangelists' influences with quality relationships at windows of opportunity are far more likely to determine if a person will grow up to be a surgeon or a slacker… or, a believer or unbeliever.

McGregor theorized two motivation models. One (X-theory) where people dislike work and so try to avoid it, prefer to be directed and must be forced to put out an effort, and are motivated by fear over security, exhibiting little creativity (except, of course, for getting around the rules). The other (Y-theory) is where people believe work is good for growth and want to be interested by it, where self-discipline is more effective and people seek and desire responsibility, and are primarily driven by a hope to realize potential with great but underused creativity. Which do you use? Deming's relationship theories are based on the more humanistic X-theory with beliefs that all people are educatable, want to do a good job, and deserve respect. Carrots for being good and sticks for bad from Taylorism (Scientific Management, 1911) is replaced with simply treating people fairly Systems Thinking.

Harvard’s Dr. Howard Garner (author of Multiple Intelligences) showed almost all children score genius level IQ’s up to the age of four but that goes down to 10% as teenagers and 2% for those over 20. Where did our intelligence go?!? It was eaten by discouragement or what Stanford’s Business School Dr. Michael Ray calls the "Voice of Judgment" in his college courses on creativity. Harvard’s Dr. Livingston and Dr. Rosenthal have likewise shown there are far more Negative Pygmalions in the world than positive ones - which only creates a destructive "Groupthink" (psychologists use this 1984 movie term to depict groups incapable of critically assessing the pros and cons due to being overly connected – the more modern terminology is mobbing).

While Galileo proved to his students at the University of Pisa Aristotle was wrong to say heavier items of similar size would fall faster, the University continued teaching Aristotle’s reality. Galileo had only informed and not taught. This is where Job's pastor and Kent have also gone wrong. They think having the right answer and telling people the right answer is all there is. Well, not to education science. Organizational Learning Theory is about using adaptive self-adjusting feedback loops and is driven first by constantly questioning the authority of existing values, assumptions, and policies (and God likewise named His children Israel, which means "those who fight with God"). Instruction moves from personal to systemic and then to personal growth cycles focusing on political obstacles as well as individual internalization and group externalization bonding. Having more than just a strong pedagogical vocabulary births an emergent creation of double-loop learning (instead of just single-loop answers) with a rebel's empathetic group narrative knowledge (myths measured more by their emotional impact than their factual accuracy).

“Experience alone teaches nothing. If you do not have a theory as a framework to understand your experience, you do not accumulate thirty years of experience; you merely repeat one year thirty times.” Dr. W Edwards Deming

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.