Creation – God, Lewis, Tolkien, & Gungor

I love the creation story from the Bible; Genesis 1 & 2, the introduction to John’s gospel. “In the Beginning…”

The biblical narratives are so poetic, so beautiful, so majestic. Whenever I come across how writers and artists have treated the story of creation in their works I’m always drawn back to the Bible. Two of my favorite depictions in literature of creation are C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s. Each, in their epic tales (The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings), write the fictional universes as being created through singing and music; beautiful and fantastic imagery.

I’m not the only one who loves this imagery of creation through music. Page CXVI, a musical group created to breathe life into old hymns, draws it’s name from the page number Lewis’ description of the creation of Narnia is found in the book, The Magician’s Nephewwhere Aslan sings the universe and everything in it into existence. A band I recently discovered and have fallen in love with (Gungor), also depicts the universe as being created through music. In the first song off of their latest album Ghosts Upon the Earth, the opening lyrics pour out, “Darkness hovering, grasping everything it sees. Void. Empty. Absent life and absent dream. Let there be (Light).” Lovely.

All of these stories and descriptions, writers and musicians, have inspired me to create a mash-up of sorts. I’ve taken God’s words, Lewis’ words, Tolkien’s words, and Gungor’s music and have attempted to combine them into something new(ish). Below, you will find words from Genesis 1 and John 1, words from  the passages containing Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth, and from Lewis’ creation of Narnia. Before you begin reading, scroll down to the bottom of this post and start the video, which will play Gungor’s song, “Let There Be.”

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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael LewisA new book by Michael Lewis (author of great books such as Moneyball and The Blind Side) explores the West’s developing sovereign debt crisis. The book is called Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, and it is the most fantastic book I’ve read in recent memory.

Lewis explores the developing debt crisis in three countries: Iceland, Greece, and Ireland. He also takes a look at Germany and their unique position in the European crisis. To bring the point home to Americans he looks at debt issues in the state government of California and a city that declared bankruptcy and has recently emerged from the process, Vallejo, California. What Lewis found through his research and interviews with officials, is each of these governments have become indebted to such an extent that their balance sheets look a lot like those found in third world economies. Continue reading


WCAGLS: John Dickson – Humilitas

Humilitas, by John DicksonThe presentation by John Dickson at the WCAGLS was one of my favorites of the summit. The presentation was entitled “Humilitas,” and was based on his most recent book, which is titled Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership. Dickson is a writer and speaker, a Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University, and Co-Director of the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, Australia. His presentation at the summit was geared towards leaders, obviously, so the thesis of his talk was, “Humility makes the great greater.” Dickson’s presentation set out to convince the audience of this thesis.

If we’re going to be convinced humility makes the great greater, we should all have a common understanding of exactly what is meant by the word. Humility is not the same thing as humiliation, even though the two words share a similar root (humilitas). The difference between humiliation and humility, which both involve being lowered, has to do with how a person is lowered. Humiliation involves a forcible lowering, as in being defeated in battle. Humility involves a person lowering him or herself. Dickson gave the following definition of the word: Humility is to hold your power in service of others.

So, now that we know what is meant by humility, why should a leader develop it in his or her life? Continue reading


WCAGLS: Len Schlesinger – Action Trumps Everything

Len Schlesinger is currently the president of Babson College in Babson Park, Massachusetts. Before his work with Babson, he spent 20 years teaching as a professor at the Harvard Business School. Schlesinger is also the author of many books on the subject of organizational leadership.

Schlesinger’s talk at the summit was titled, “Action Trumps Everything,” which also happens to be the title of a recent book he co-authored with Charles F. Kiefer and Paul B. Brown. I felt like Schlesinger’s talk was structured in a way that moved from a very broad visionary point-of-view to the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship. I’ve structured my notes to try to capture the structure of his presentation.

Visionary Entrepreneurship

Schlesinger began his talk by referencing a presentation Bill Hybels gave at the previous year’s Global Leadership Summit. Hybels spoke on, “Getting from Here to There.” Schlesinger explained the gist of the presentation as, “Leaders must come to the realization that when casting a vision, they are trying to convince people to move from where they are comfortable (possibly) to a place they are unsure about.”

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WCAGLS: Henry Cloud – The Evil, The Foolish, The Wise

Dr. Henry Cloud is a clinical psychologist and leadership consultant. He is the bestselling author and coauthor of over 20 books, including Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. At the conference, Henry Cloud spoke about the three types of people leaders come in contact with in their organizations and how to deal with them.

Cloud began his session by affirming the Biblical view that as a leader, “wherever you are, God has called you to be a steward for a vision,” (Daniel 2:21, Romans 13:1). As the steward of an organization’s vision, there will be times when it is necessary to correct the actions of employees, but sometimes a leader is at a loss for how exactly to handle particular situations. Cloud described how, while coaching and providing leadership consultation, leaders would begin describing their leadership team and employees, discussing their day-to-day schedules, and inevitably would begin describing a situation where they would begin with, “So, I have ‘This Guy.'” After listening to the various descriptions of “This Guy,” from his many clients, Cloud has classified the types of employees that sometimes confound leadership. Once an employee is classified, leaders will be able to better deal with the person. Continue reading


WCAGLS: Seth Godin – Be an Artist

Seth Godin is an out-of-the-box thinker and prodigious author. He’s written several books that you have probably heard of and might have read, such as: Tribes, Poke the Box, and his most recent, Linchpin. Godin’s presentation at the summit stitched the big ideas from several of his books together, but the overarching idea of his presentation was to be an artist.

Van Gogh Starry Night

Godin believes the industrial age is over. Workers are no longer an important component in industry, workers are cogs. Mass production has created a workforce of interchangeable people; competency is no longer a scarce commodity as it once was. A great comment from Godin illustrating the point was, “If the steps of your job can be written down, I can find a way to do it cheaper.” Continue reading


WCAGLS: Bill Hybels – Five Critical Questions

The first session of the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit was from Willow Creek Community Church’s Bill Hybels. Hybels’ session discussed five critical questions a leader should ask himself or herself regarding their organizational leadership. This session was an hour and a half. I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible, but there are no guarantees…

The first critical question Hybels asked was: What is your current challenge level at work?

Hybels introduced a test that he uses in his organization, Willow Creek Community Church (WCCC), to assess the challenge level of his staff. Continue reading