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July 6, 2020 — Leave a comment

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[Last updated: 6th July, 2020]


In 2006 Father Sergio Gutiérrez, the pro-wrestler monk who inspired the movie ‘Nacho Libre’ told The Guardian:

I didn’t wrestle “for the glory. I wanted money. Thanks to God and to lucha libre my orphanage has produced three doctors, two accountants, 20 computer technicians, seven lawyers, one priest and 16 teachers” [i]

This reformed ‘rebel without a cause’[ii] is a hero for the people. Ordained in 1973, he joined the lucha libre (free fight/wrestling) in 1978.

Part of Gutiérrez’s story, with the help of Jack Black’s performance in ‘Nacho Libre,’ became the stuff of pop culture legend.

However, reviews still appear mixed. That’s because Hollywood missed an opportunity, if not the point. Black does his classic, signature moves and lifts the storyline. He makes the scriptwriter one-liners memorable, but given the strength of its potential, this movie aimed too low.

With the 10 year anniversary of its release next year, Nacho Libre is worth revisiting.

Not so much the film, but Father Sergio Gutiérrez, the orphanage, and the contextual mission that inspired the story.

Perhaps Gutiérrez’s testimony is strong enough for us to be able to piece together the movie and celebrate it.


[i] Jo Tuckman, 2006 ‘I didn’t do it for glory. I wanted money’ Article sourced from The Guardian online

[ii] ibid

Movie: Nacho Libre, Paramount Pictures, 2006

Reading Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ has jolted to my understanding of what it means to be introverted and/or extroverted.Quiet_Susan Cane

I’m not all the way through it yet, but I have a real sense that her project on personality, which is written like an academic text, has deep value for ministry and pastoral theology in general.

A particular area of  interest for me was that in at least one University in America, based on her observation and research, if you failed to create a significant social network, the assumption was that you had by default, also failed your degree[i]. That is even if you had met the required mark for successful completion of that degree.

I wondered at the implications for students who spend a considerable amount of their learning via the internet, because the infrastructure is geared towards the individual achievement, not so much on how much that community likes you; or worse is pleased with you.

One of the most pressing questions this raised for me was: Does the lack of “physical-networking” factor into to the overall reality of success and holistic achievement?

Cain infers that there are forces at work within society who seek to turn introverts into extroverts. For instance: A higher value is placed on charisma, smile, popularity and the ability to sell-beyond all borders anything, anywhere at any time, whilst still maintaining healthy energy levels and close, well-founded, mutually beneficial relationships.

This uncovers somewhat of a contradiction between what some in academia promise and what reality actually delivers. The former promotes education as the means to opportunity, barely acknowledging the fact that money and status are really the things which feed opportunity. The reality is that when it comes to opportunity, what you might know is superseded by where you stand financially and who you know (or, rather who knows and likes you) socially.

If what Cain has identified is accurately represented across the board, the truth is that money and status are what bring opportunity, education is only a framework for gaining social advantage.

This opens a can of worms for the variables in social networking. Some of which can be very fickle. Cain’s research essentially implies that if a person is not well liked then they will not be well connected or be well supplied with the same equal opportunities as, say someone (the probability is that this person will be an extrovert) who has won over hearts with charm and a loud personality. Although, on balance, Cain does point out that smoke and mirrors can only last so long before the truth wins out.

Therefore the implications for introverts are not all negative. For instance, Cain asserts:

‘while introverts have trouble projecting artificial enthusiasm…it is not a bad thing because this inflexibility can motivate an introvert to speak from their convictions’[ii]

Cain then moves on to make some heavy assertions in order to reinforce her point, stating that enough evidence exists to suggest that if the introverts in well supply on Wall Street at the time before the Global Financial Crisis had been listened to, the G.F.C may have been avoided[iii].

There are numerous amounts of key phrases, examples of studies and key words that make this reading a high calibre resource.

Things like “reward sensitivity”, “high reactivity”, “high sensitivity”, “the extrovert ideal”, “over stimulation”, “under stimulation” and the value, for introverts, in finding a “sweet spot” i.e.: finding balance  between energy drain and energy gain; knowing when to put the book down and head out to a cafe with a friend, and then when to exit gracefully. Recharged and ready.

For now it’s raising a lot of questions about how the church can improve the care of Pastors and that of the community.

Considering all the micro and macro concerns about how various parts of the church have failed (some catastrophically) in its duty of care, Cain is one researcher the church community should be listening to within reason. Granted there has been a lot of reading where I have had to push through, such as her use of Al Gore and his “Global Warming/Climate change” evangelism (“campaign”) [iv], and the findings of evolutionary biologists. Nothing against either of these groups, it’s just that both are scientific areas where I consider myself an agnostic, primarily due to the variables in their conclusions and the militant, political-ideological threads associated with both.

I’ll put together some more thoughts on this once I complete it.

[i] Cain, S 2012 Quiet: The Power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking Penguin Group, p.47
[ii] ibid, p.129
[iii] Ibid, p.155 (Chapter Seven covers this at length providing a very interesting hypothesis on the reasons for the event)
[iv] ibid, p.149

Continuing to pray and mine my way back through Tolstoy’s 1879-80 work, ‘A Confession’. The background image comes from a summer storm we had in the afternoon yesterday. The clouds just seemed to intensify the concepts of grace, awareness and anticipation that Tolstoy was wrestling with. Don’t give up. Push across the stream!!


Like Living Stones

October 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

WB quote commandments3

‘Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments’ (Ps.119:73)
‘Like living stones….Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation’ (1 Pet.2:1-12)

Related Reading:

How To Avoid Christian Celebrity Derangement Syndrome: Dealing Fairly With Evans, Driscoll and Piper – Derek Rishmawy , 23rd October 2013, Christ and Pop Culture

I had originally set out to write this the other night. My thoughts eventually turned into another article, which although different, has a somewhat related subject matter.

I did some research on the axiom, don’t shoot the messenger. What I found was this: it is linked to Shakespearian play Henry IV. Act 1. Sc.1 and can be sourced in various forms way back to Ancient Greece. I’ll spare you the history lesson and only point this out so as to establish historical context.

Here is the quote from said play.

 ‘’The first bringer of unwelcome news hath but a losing office; and his tongue sounds ever after as a sullen bell…thou shakest thy head and holds’t it as fear or sin to speak truth’’


‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ because they are more than likely NOT as willing to share it, as you are in NOT wanting to hear it.

Another relevant aspect of the Shakespearian statement is uncovered in the final part of what could be a monument to his influence on the modern and post-modern zeitgeist or spirit of the age.

 ‘’…Thou shakest thy head and hold it as fear or sin to speak truth’’.

Has Western society really come to this?

For example: are our familial relationships, society and politics a loci for what may have become Fear or Sin. To. Speak. Truth?

In his book ‘’Let your life speak’’, Parker Palmer writes:

‘there is a great gulf between the way my ego wants to identify me, with its protective masks and self-serving fictions, and my true self…’ (2000:L.83 kindle ed.)

What Parker is saying here is qualified a little later by his suggestion that when we ‘refuse to embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of, we misread our own reality’ (2000:L.98 kindle ed.)

Suffice it to say, if we shoot the messenger we may fail to receive the message a messenger has the duty of delivering. Therefore we deal in the ignorance of what could be named a ‘happy silence’. The effort required to stay informed is too much so we avoid the details, context and historical points of impact which anticipated the current reality we find ourselves in. This smug ‘happy silence’ becomes indifference and is subsequently fed by conflict avoidance and complacency.

Jean Bethke Elshtain points out that this is exemplified by a ‘style of action…that repudiates the very existence of those with whom one disagrees’ (Public man Private woman 1981:365).

If we contrast this with the Judeo-Christian narrative of the Free God who frees us for others and Himself (Karl Barth & Ex.3:1-12), we end up with an interesting challenge to freely participate in seeking truth through respectful dialogue. This is counter to self-serving activities which seek to undermine that process.

…’God’s promises are rude and relentless. These promises do not honour our despair or our complacency. We are the people who believe that God’s future will cause a new-ness in the world, in which our old tired patterns of displacement and fear and hate cannot persist…. God has come to enlist people into these promises for the future of Israel and the future of the world’

(Walter Brueggemann, ‘Subversive Obedience’ 2011:25; Ex.3:1-12)

This enquiry raises two questions:

1. Might we actually mean what we say, say what we mean and choose to live by both?

2. Might we find the tension, ambiguity and imperfection found in the translations of these, as useful to our movement forward?

Take this gem of a thought from  American Mychal Massie, writer and Los Angeles talk show host:

 ‘I have a saying that ‘’the only reason a person hides things, is because they have something to hide’’ (Cited by Kevin Sorbo, Facebook August 26th 2013).

Perhaps we need to move beyond  assumption, by reassessing the impression management so closely linked to social media?

I realise this is wordy, but bear with me and maybe go back over those two questions above in order to really process them. There is a real need, in my view, to resist the Machiavellian ideological perspective which allows for a covert aggressive nominalism. A kind of manipulated-artificial  existence, where people are given permission to covertly tear others down and yet make themselves look innocent and victimized, because they have been enabled by others to do so. Historically speaking this is reflected in the abhorrent potentiality located within the ‘logic of deconstructionism, which reverses a claim like “the Nazis oppressed the Jews,” showing instead that the defenceless Jew’s oppressed the Nazis’ (Cited by Gene Veith, 1993:2615-2617, ‘Modern Fascism’ Kindle Ed. paraphrased)

In short: this could also apply to the practice of being something in public and then being the absolute opposite in private.

Abuse thrives when assumptions are fuelled by what we are led to believe about a person. Whether this be through appearances, gossip or lies-through-omission.

A protest against this is found in Swedish Musician, Ulf Christiansson’s contrasts outlined in the song ‘Entertainers and Soldiers’. Although here I acknowledge an argument could be made that Entertainers are ”messengers”, therefore the use of this song makes my overall point redundant and confusing. My response to this is to say that the phrase ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ points to a paradox of appearance, intention and purpose. For me, this is only reinforced by the lyrics not limited by them. Therefore this is an adequate example of the conversation between art and theology regarding nominalism.

Entertainers and soldiers


Brueggemann, W. 2011 Subversive Obedience
Elshtain, J.B 1981 Public man Private woman
Jerusalem, ‘Entertainers and Soldiers’ available @ iTunes and amazon.
Parker, P. 2000 Let your life speak Kindle Ed.
Shakespeare. Henry IV
Veith,G. 1993 Modern Fascism Kindle Ed.