Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reinventing Rethinking

Update to the Rethinking Culture post earlier today:

We happened upon the original Robert Schuller Rethink Conference materials that were posted a few months ago and noticed that the wording has changed in a way that sheds new light on the previous post that we put up earlier today (see below).

A few key quotes that have now disappeared from the conference promotional matter on the website--illuminating the fact that the original intent of the Rethink Conference had to do with "spheres" and leaders intent on shaping culture. The following was originally posted the speakers page:

"Throughout the conference, you'll hear from both Christian leaders and from leaders in media, technology, industry, politics, and business. These speakers are all at the top of their spheres of influence. They know what's happening now, and what's coming down the highway. The strategy is to learn from a group of top thinkers and implementers to understand the tools and techniques of effectiveness." [emphasis added]

The website also stated:

"More than 30 gifted communicators will challenge the way you lead in today's culture. You'll leave with fresh perspectives and new direction for being an effective influencer in a changing world." [emphasis added]

The "Why Rethink?" webpage used to say, in part:

When you're a leader, how do you influence a world that's ever changing, particularly when the culture around you reinvents itself quicker than a mouse-click? You need to rethink. . .

  • rethink. . . is about taking a hard look at what's happening in our culture, than strategically moving into new areas of growth.
  • rethink . . . is about knowing how to shape the people we lead so they effectively connect with others in their spheres of influence. [bold in original, color added for emphasis]

The "Rethink the Details" page used to answer the question "Who is this event designed for?" with the answer:

Pastors, leaders, and anyone who desires to know more about maximizing influence within culture. the purpose of rethink is to equip church and community leaders to really make a difference in their spheres of influence. That's why we'll have speakers from the media, business, politics, technology, and the church -- so we can gain insight on what's happening in today's culture and a new perspective on how to lead effectively. [emphasis added]

And the answer to the question "Why are non-Christian speakers being featured at a Christian-oriented conference?" used to be:

Throughout the conference, you'll hear from both Christian leaders and from leaders in media and business who are at the top of their spheres of influence. Our aim is to bring together the key leaders of today's culture so we can grapple with what's truly happening in our world. [emphasis added]

It seems fairly obvious that somebody changed the wording to cloak the Dominionist agenda of this conference -- the "spheres of influence." The term substituted for it is now "Cultural Icons." In that light, then, it is particularly interesting to look at what that term means:

An icon (from Greek εἰκών, eikon, "image") is an image, picture, or representation; it is a sign or likeness that stands for an object by signifying or representing it, or by analogy, as in semiotics; by extension, icon is also used, particularly in modern popular culture, in the general sense of symbol — i.e. a name, face, picture, edifice or even a person readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embodying certain qualities. one thing, and image or depiction, that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning, usually associated with religious, cultural, political, and economic standing.

Throughout history religious cults or religious cultures[1] have been inspired or supplemented by concrete images, whether in two dimensions or three. The degree to which images are used or permitted, and their functions, whether they are for instruction or inspiration, whether treated as sacred objects of veneration or worship or simply applied as ornament, depends upon the tenets of a given religion in a given place and time.

Hmmmm. . . . Perhaps the organizers ought to have stuck with the original "spheres of influence" term. . . .

See original post below.