I am a Christian (129)

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a poem from an anonymous newspaper clipping titled “I am a Christian.” Gregg received the poem on Facebook as, perhaps, a way of defining what a Christian is.

In Gregg’s view a Christian can be defined in two ways: a) as someone who claims to be a follower of Christ; or b) as someone whom God sees as being a follower of Christ. However both of these definitions has its failings: the first is extremely loose; the second is essentially inaccessible.

John notes that the philosophy behind the Co-active coaching model he is studying maintains that people are “creative, resourceful, and whole.”  John understood the notion of “wholeness” to be somewhat aspiration and mentioned this to an instructor in passing. They demurred. The instructor’s perspective is that all people are whole and it is only because of the negative messages they have embodied that have made them less than whole, however at their core, they are whole.  And so of coaching process can be a way to rediscover and return to that original “wholeness.”

John decided to pass on challenging this further, but found the notion interesting from the perspective that it seemed assumed that the instructor’s assertion was true simply because it had been made and sounded good. Similarly, the statements in this poem are often accepted in the same way. Specifically, in neither case can the predominant viewpoint be questioned, nor is there any reasoning or argument given for why these viewpoints are as they are. So whether it’s an emphasis on chakras, astrology, etc. one is expected to accept these views unquestioningly (as J. P. Sears pokes fun at in How to be Ultra Spiritual.

Gregg finds the same similarities with mediation (relative to the notion that mediators are neutral and impartial). So Gregg would re-frame the Co-active coaching philosophy to say that, in the right situations and contexts, people can be “creative enough, resourceful enough, and whole enough” for the dealing with the matter at hand.

So Gregg argues that the level of “creativity, resourcefulness and wholeness” varies greatly from person to person even within the same person varies greatly depending upon the situation and circumstances. Further, how we define these notions is critical, such that we have all had both the experience of being of creative, resourceful, and whole and of being extremely uncreative, unresourcelful, and broken!

Gregg also focuses on the notions of being “skillful” and being “practiced” (or not) relative to certain activities or aspects of our lives. In these areas the notions of creativity, resourcefulness and wholeness will be very differently defined (and the bar for success set at very different levels) versus areas where we are unskilled or unpracticed.

In terms of wholeness, in a mediation context Gregg would instead emphasize the multiple and distinct responsibilities that exist, with the mediator’s responsibility being to creating the proper context for and facilitating the process of the discussion, and leaving all responsibility for outcomes and decision-making with the clients.

In terms of the poem, John sees it as “standard Christian fare” within the common notion that humans are “fallen” and broken and God makes it better with Jesus.  Gregg finds the poem’s orientation—replacing a negative “I’m not X” with a positive “I am Y”—to be problematic, in that the author views negatively many of the things that Gregg considers to be essential to his own self-understanding as a Christian and to the legitimate outcomes of rightly relating with God! In other words, Gregg has a very different understanding of what it means to live rightly as a human being and as a Christian!

Indeed, Gregg wonders if the poem’s format is not actually more important than its content.

At the end of the episode John gives a plug for his coaching practice and for Gregg’s mediation practice.

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