221B Baker Street

One of the most famous addresses in the world isn't a real one. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character who lived in London at 221B Baker Street. It's a place people went to for help and the address still looms large.
What address comes to mind when you are at your wit's end? In recent current events, we will have heard now of Syria and we understand that we have a history with Russia. We know that refugees seeking help are seeking also an address--a place where one can either call home or visit to feel at home. I can tell you that I grew up on Henry Rd and later moved to Portland Avenue and Heaton Street. Most people could care less, but I knew where I received mail and I knew a place that was called mine.
It's what we want leaders to protect when they go to war.
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Illinois Countryside

I recall once a friend saying to me, "never forget where you came from". And I wonder, where is that for you? The fascinating part is that none of us, to my knowledge, gets to pick where we're from. In fact, we all start as part of someone else's home. Some couple united to give birth to us and we were suddenly a part of another person's home address.

Then, something rather amazing happens. We start to embrace or look for our own home. I truly believe that so much of our own journey in this life is trying to find that place or that person that makes us feel at home.

Because I have received mail in Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, England, and Hong Kong, I now feel adaptable and pretty flexible. I also feel like my home is rather confusing--at least in an emotional sense. For example, I know London, England, as a city better than I do Minneapolis, even though I grew up a six hour drive from Minnesota. Why? Because for a while, I actually lived in England. I may visit other cities, but truly seeking to make a life elsewhere means something.

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Dubai: Reflections on Modern Change

On the way to Africa a few years back, I stopped in Dubai. It's like Phoenix, with way more money. The airport is impressive and the clash between what's modern and what's tradition and what's western and what's eastern is both dazzling and dizzying.

If you've seen the MIssion Impossible: Ghost Protocol film, you'll note that Dubai is prominent as the heroes navigate tall buildings and sandstorms. Dubai encapsulates modernity's rise in a centuries old desert. Os Guinness notes in his book The Last Christian on Earth that "Christians have always shown a curious inability to consider things from a long-term perspective." The latest isn't always the greatest.

How, then, do we hold on to ancient wisdom in an era of restlessness? What happens to long-term or longview leadership in an age of start-ups?

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Washington D.C.

A recent Georgetown lecture aired on public television featuring former President Bill Clinton. I find him to be a remarkably interesting speaker and he did not disappoint. His grasp of politics, history, and the world stage are engaging and whether you agree or disagree, he's worth listening to.In the Q/A, he said some profound things about leadership, which stuck with me a bit. For example, each person needs to have the skills and the psychology that fits their context for the times. The latter point was rather new to me, but outstanding. Yes, the psychology of a leader must be an asset to the context he or she is in. Incidentally, the one indispensable book Clinton recommended is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius...I will look it up.

He also referenced Franklin Pierce, who was President leading up to our Civil War. On the way to Washington for the Inauguration, Pierce and his family were in a train accident and Pierce's son fell during the wreck, broke his neck, and died. Simply awful. But, is it any wonder that Pierce struggled to gain his footing in the White House? He started with that horrible beginning.

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New Orleans

Minutes before arriving at my hotel last week, an armed man put a gun in front of the desk clerk and ran off with the money. I arrived shortly after the robbery with cops everywhere and a shaken up desk clerk. Note to self: pay attention.

The last time I was in New Orleans was to discuss relief efforts after Katrina with friends of the non-profit I was working for. We organized a training event together after that which focused on worldview and applied theology. This trip was vastly different. It's one thing to see the effects of a violent storm, quite another to see violence come from the hand of a human being.

Residents of the hotel were shaken up a bit. The workers talked about it the next day at breakfast. I was impressed with how the desk clerk handled herself and put the hotel and its patrons first. The world is capable of handing us bad days and sometimes what we mean by the world is that other men and women sometimes have the desire to be so violent that they threaten our view of things.

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Piswa, Uganda

Last week, I was in Gulu and Kampala, Uganda, respectively. The two cities are about a seven hour drive by car from each other and they are two of the largest cities in the country.

The last time I was in Uganda, I visited Piswa and frankly, Uganda has a little bit of everything. There is the amazing congestion of Kampala, where history and modernity are competing for space. There is the regional poverty on the way to the next city and there are Universities tucked almost out of sight, yet still accessible.

 

One thing, though, that sticks out in traveling to a place like Uganda is that you are confronted, assaulted may be just as appropriate, with the obvious extreme poverty as well as striking beauty at the same time.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Standing at the window, I watched a young person vomit on to the street. The drinking binge officially ended and while I never met the person nor did they look up to my 4th floor room, I simply noted that vantage points matter.

A few days later, I sat at a table in a coffee shop and a plaque stated that this is where J.K. Rowling had written part of Harry Potter. She’d been a regular before Harry became huge. And I figured on that day, sometimes where you sit matters.

A friend gave us a tour that recounted the martyred covenanters and the day ended at Blackfriar’s cemetery. Once again, vantage points matter.

Yet, the waitress in a local pub is someone I remember as much as anyone else.

Why Students Should Still Study Abroad

 

Why Students Should Still Study Abroad

Since the academic year started, both beheadings from militant groups and the coverage of Ebola have gone viral. This week, shootings in Paris covered the airwaves. Concerned parents want to know if their son or daughter will get a disease or if life outside the United States is safe. Judging solely by the cable news outlets, one would remain almost paranoid as one crisis after another seems to get around-the-clock coverage.

 

Yet, nearly 300,000 U.S. students will study abroad in a given year and that is still a good thing. And yes, students should still consider study abroad and there are many reasons, but let me briefly explore three of them.

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