Cristóbal Colón Had Some Ideas

chicago-ideas-weekIt’s Ideas Week in Chicago – one of my favorite annual events – and while the talks this year lack many overtly religious/spiritual/interfaith options, there will be much to inform Church World.  More about that later.

With today being Columbus Day, I was pondering his ideas – as disturbing and backwards as they sound today.  According to Backstory, here are some of the ideas that Columbus did and did not have:

  • Columbus did not initiate the idea that the earth was round.  Aristotle had already established that (c. 330 BCE) not to mention a guy named Yajnavalkya (c. 9th–8th century BCE.)  But Columbus did have the idea that the earth was small – hence his confusion in believing that Cuba was China.
  • Columbus did believe that the lovely people he met in what is now the Bahamas would make docile servants for the royals.

And there was more, but here’s my point:  Ideas Are Important.  But not all ideas are good, reasonable, or true.  And still, all thriving institutions need ideas and idea people.

A couple of things about ideas in general:

  • We can try out an idea and if it doesn’t work, it’s okay.  Failure is an excellent teacher.  Or maybe an idea hasn’t failed as much as it needs to be tweaked a little and then voila!
  • Fear of  institutionalizing ideas paralyzes us.  Saying “let’s try this for 3 months and then evaluate” sets everyone’s heart at ease.
  • Mistakes introduce unlikely discoveries.  This is how we got the color mauve.  Excellent.
  • Everything is spiritual.  Among the Chicago Ideas Week talks and labs I’ll be attending include “Twist: The Joy of Solving” and “Work: Fueling Performance.”  They seem to have nothing to do with God, except that they do.
  • For churches to thrive, they need more than creative pastoral leadership.  Read/re-read this by Patrick Scriven.

I’ll be blogging on ideas all week.  Please share yours as well.

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