Stop Religious Racism

TV producers don’t care if your think they’re rude. They’ll happily throw cold water on any idea that doesn’t pass their “sniff” test.

I’ve developed a concept for a religious reality show called Save Me. It’s like Big Brother gets religion. A group of people each of whom thinks their religion is the “right” one live together for a few weeks. You can imagine what follows

I’ve pitched this idea to producers several times. You know what they typically say to me, “That would be a train wreck”. Anyone who’s observed religions’ lusty affair with politics  over the past 40 years understands how religion earned this reputation the hard way.

Bottom Line: My TV producer friends (and a growing majority of people) first impression is  Religion = DANGEROUS

Donald Trump is one of two people who have a shot at being the next President of the US. He’s upended the political process in several ways and used his experience as an entertainer to keep the narrative focused on himself. He is also the most dangerous politician to come along since the 1950s. His invectives, threats and innuendo are creating a caustic environment that must be resisted, challenged and stopped. His braggadocio is giving people permission to insult people of different ethnicities and making America dangerous.

He is inciting religious racism – giving it permission to express itself as an American value. It shows up everyday in stories like this one about a Muslim being arrested in Ohio because of how he was dressed. Imagine if that happened to Jews, or Pentecostals for raising their hands in worship or the Amish for their bonnets or Catholic Nuns for their veils or Orthodox priests for their robes or Indian Women for their Saris ( you get the idea)

Three clergymen from Peoria Illinois, the heartland of America, have forged a friendship that challenges this narrative. A Zionist Rabbi, Muslim Imam and Evangelical Preacher have spent the past 5 years listening to each other, discussing differences and finding common ground. Nothing has changed in their beliefs but everything has changed in their hearts.

They want people to hear their story – that if they can find a way to like each other inside  religion, perhaps the most polarized business of all – then people from all kinds of difference can too.

Jim Henderson Presents is currently in production on a documentary, book and tour for these three gentlemen.

Through the furnace of experience, they’ve discovered some simple practices that enable them to truly listen, hear and connect with each other and they want to share those with people.

The evangelical and the Jew have teamed up to protect their Muslim friend. They have his back. They’ve suspended their judgments of each other and decided to co belligerate around the values we celebrate as Americans.

Maybe we can help stop religious racism before it gets a beachhead in America

Stay tuned


Otherlyness the spirituality of serving others

No religion elevates serving others above its’ beliefs

That’s why we recite The Apostles Creed not The Apostles Deeds

When it comes to religion, practices are optional while beliefs are critical.

  • Propositions trump practice
  • Orthodoxy trumps orthopraxy
  • Certainty trumps curiosity

We consider it rude to ask others what they’re doing about their beliefs.

Instead we ask what they believe and then decide if we can fellowship with them.

“It is less important to ask a Christian what he or she believes about the Bible than it is to inquire what he or she does with it” Leslie Newbigen – Proper Confidence

I no longer think of God as a religious being – interested in rituals, bells, smells, hats and buildings.

I have come to believe that God has never paid the tiniest bit of attention to any religion ever, especially the ones (and there are many) that claim an exclusive relationship with God.

Many of us find ourselves defending a religion we don’t identify with. We feel trapped in a historical convergence. The only thing we know for sure is that we believe in Jesus, his story and we want others to experience him, as well. We feel no need to defend the “historic claims of Christianity,” but we do feel passionate about trying to live a life that attempts to imitate the values and practices of the founder of our movement. We want his story to be told through us.

The desire to tell this story in public has led us to form a new movement called Otherlyness – the spiritual practice of serving. This work resonates with us on the deepest level. It energizes us and pulls us into a future that will make the way of Jesus publicly known.

Otherlyness is revolutionary not evolutionary.

Otherlyness provides the common ground where religious and non-religious people can meet. Because is has no beliefs anyone can participate. It is designed to respond to the innate way humans learn “We do what we see not what you say”

Many Christians and non-Christians already participate in Otherlyness without calling it that. They serve in big as well as small ways. We simply want to encourage more of this behavior. We want followers of Jesus to be well known for practicing Otherlyness. We want them invite others to intentionally practice the spirituality of serving others

Providing a framework called Otherlyness, encourages people to do more of what they’re already doing. It makes serving others in small doable ways concrete and legitimate – not a side project

Following in the way of Jesus does not require belief in Jesus or God. You don’t need a higher power to practice Otherlyness. Many of us however have developed a confidence in and dependence upon the God who is Otherly. We attempt to live as if it’s true.

What do practitioners of Otherlyness do?

Three Practices

  1. Practice being unusually interested in others
  2. Practice staying in the room with difference
  3. Stop comparing your best with their worst



Leadership Training Programs Are A Waste of Time

Royalty, feudalism, dictatorships and democracy have all had their shot at defining and selling leadership. Each group claims that their way is best. At the top of each socio political pile is a small cadre of privileged and well paid people who pump out orders, threats, offers or seminars. They keep telling us “you can do it too”. They keep seducing us to sacrifice more money and intelligence. They essentially think the world needs more people like them. Then things would go well for everyone else.

I’m calling B.S.

We don’t need more leaders, especially more of the kinds of leaders who have shaped history thus far. For them leaders = power grubbers. They want us to lend them our power and trust them to use it properly. They have handed us a dangerous and divided world. They are politicians, entertainers, religionists, academics, scientists, economists – you name it, scratch a bit below the surface and for the most part you’ll find self serving leaders. Why should I listen to them? Is this the best we can do?

I’m calling B.S.

Leadership is a verb, a set of practices and behaviors. It’s not a person or a program.

Leadership inspires people to lean into their better angels

Leadership embraces power and gives it away. It shares power with others.

Leadership is what we need more of.

Leadership looks like more listening, more initiative and more adaptability.


Leaders are fine as long as they don’t get in the way of progress.

Leaders can help us by starting things and then getting out of the way.

Give me a leadership revolution

Too Many People Not Enough Time

Fifteen years ago I was asked to write a leadership development plan for a non profit organization. We had 110 employees, 25 directors and 400 volunteers serving 10,000-15,000 people each month.

In my institutional naiveté I suggested that instead of developing Leaders we should cultivate and foster leadership practices across the entire organization.

How? By focusing on what leaders do – the actual activities of leaders.

What are those?

Here’s my list: paying attention, initiative, responsibility, listening, action, curiosity, encouragement, follow through, wisdom and love.

Since the job of “Leaders” in my organization was ostensibly to deliver these actions to the 400 volunteers who in turn would deliver them to the 10,000 I had to figure out a way to do that without “using” people up while getting things done because leadership is also very much about getting your work done through other people.

As noble as our goals were, when it came to relational dysfunction, we were just as ruthless as any for profit organization. Our mission drove us to “use” people and then dispense with them. Consequently we suffered high turn over rates on staff and among volunteers.

That frustration sent me on a search to develop a system that enables organizations to consistently “deliver attention” using pre-existing relational networks and hierarchies which I will announce soon

It’s True! You really don’t have time for everyone, but everyone has time for someone.

Real Leaders see to it that everyone pays attention to someone.

 “Attention is the currency of leadership” Ron Heifetz