Friday, February 08, 2013

good comments from an atheist on "Power of Introverts" and church leadership

  blogs on the Atheist Channel on Patheos.  Here, during a  review of  Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (see video of Cain on the book here), she comments:
...Cain’s purpose is not to argue that introverts are better than extroverts, but rather that our culture overvalues extroverts at the expense of introverts.
In one especially fascinating section, Cain looks at evangelicalism, Rick Warren, and Saddleback Church. She does so through an interview with Adam McHugh, a local evangelical pastor who is “an avowed introvert.”
“The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion,” McHugh explained. “The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It’s a constant tension for many introverts that they’re not living that out. And in a religious world, there’s more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn’t feel like ‘I’m not doing as well as I’d like.’ It feels like ‘God isn’t pleased with me.’”
From outside the evangelical community, this seems an astonishing confession. Since when is solitude one of the Seven Deadly Sins? But to a fellow evangelical, HcHugh’s sense of spiritual failure would make perfect sense. …

Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme, McHugh is telling us. If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection with the divine; it must be displayed publicly. Is it any wonder that introverts like Pastor McHugh start to question their own hearts?
Cain details her experience visiting Saddleback, and what she calls the “culture of personality.” She even compares the service to what she saw visiting Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” seminars and discusses what she calls “the myth of charismatic leadership.” Interestingly, the very extroverted nature of evangelicalism helps explain some of the salvation anxiety I discussed yesterday. Also, given the role charismatic authoritarian leadership so often plays in religion, I think a greater appreciation of the potential downsides of extroversion and upsides of introversion can only be positive.
This whole extrovert/introvert discussion is also interesting when considered in light of conversations within the atheist blogosphere regarding how to approach dialogue with the religious – and especially whether to use a “harsher” or “gentler” approach in doing so. There are benefits to charismatic leadership’s ability to inspire, but there are also limitations. Introverts hold their own power, a power grounded in the ability to listen to others and influence and lead from behind. I don’t know exactly where all that leaves us, but I find the discussion fascinating and, I think, potentially productive....  LINK


Related Facebook post:
Reading a book about introverts while travelling on a plane is ironically the best way to get your extrovert seatmate to talk to you. Thanks for the book tip, Scott Jones, I will have to share it with fellow introvert Brittany Humble while here at Grace Covenant Annual Ministry Conference and "Family Reunion" You should also notice from the pic that Happy Lee Del Canto Sabag is the top author on my Kindle.. @Tony Jones, Kester Brewin , Tripp York and N.T. Wright also made the list as you can see.
— in Kansas City, MO.

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    Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!