All Roads Lead To…
At one point in the not so distant past, there was one view of history. The dominant power largely determined that view. In his book The Silk Road, Peter Frankopan, a Senior research fellow at Worcester College and the director of the Centre for Byzantine Research from Oxford University, sets out to rewrite history or at least retell history from a different point of view. William Dalrymple in his Guardian review writes, “Frankopan marches briskly through the centuries, disguising his erudition with an enviable lightness of touch, enlivening his narrative with a beautifully constructed web of anecdotes and insights, backed up by an impressively wide-ranging scholarly apparatus of footnotes drawing on works in multiple languages For Frankopan, the Silk Road(s) were the center of life itself, because many cultures traverse those paths and connected and conflicted with each other. Frankopan states, “there was good reason why the cultures, cities and peoples who lived along the Silk Roads developed and advanced: as they traded and exchanged ideas, they learnt and borrowed from each other, stimulating further advances in philosophy, the sciences, language and religion. Progress was essential”.
Frankopan does an excellent job of shedding light on the influence of the Silk Road on all of the current civilization. Like the internet, Frankopan has shown us that we indeed do and have lived in a globalized world. Mihaela Gligor, in his review, adds excellent insight to this point saying,
Peter Frankopan has a pressing reason to promote the silk roads’ history from cultural relegation. Since in present days we are living in a globalised present, most of us are profoundly ignorant of our past and of our common foundational myths. Peter Frankopan’s volume reminds us that some brand new things are basically extremely old, and that one-way system is a recent invention.
The phrase, brand new things are basically extremely old, stood out to me for several reasons but mainly because it is a concept that I have been learning in life and leadership recently. Barna Group just released its largest study of the emerging generation across the globe, and as we expected, the internet has caused everyone and everything to change at a rapid pace. In the study Sifiso Pule says,
The internet has enabled people to access communities they self-identify with at an exponential scale, and it enables fast dissemination of information in a decentralized manner. This is both a good thing and a bad thing in that it has enabled those same individuals and communities to become polarized, leading to fragmentation and forced assimilation: “You’re either with us or you’re against us.” The internet has been elevated as the primary source of “truth,” which has led to mass deception and mass social engineering to conform to particular interest groups’ set of norms.
While the internet is new, how it is being used as the source of truth is not. People and leaders have been trying to get their message out since the “dawn of time,” this new thing makes it faster and easier to put people into groups. With “fake news” and fake filters to be able to change what you look like online (see here if you are lost). This leads to me a question, as leaders and specifically Christian leaders, how do we disseminate the truth? As we continued to march into the future, will the idea and notion of leadership become more about who you are (being) as much as it is about what you do?
.” Dalrymple, William. “The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan Review – History on a Grand Scale.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, November 6, 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/06/silk-roads-peter-frankopan-review.
 Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: a New History of the World. New York: Vintage Books, 2017, xviii.
 Mihaela Gligor. “PETER FRANKOPAN, THE SILK ROADS. A NEW HISTORY OF THE WORLD.” Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology 5, no. 3 (2018): Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology, 01 September 2018, Vol.5(3), 83.
 Barna Group. The Connected Generation Report. PDF, 2019, 108.
12 responses to “All Roads Lead To…”
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Good stuff Mario. Yes, a lot of new stuff is actually old stuff. That’s what’s good about studying history. Folks don’t realize it but there are many opportunities to avoid calamities and heartache if we only take the time to study history and learn from the past.
By the way, it seems like a lot of your writing touches on GenZ. If that’s the case I need your help in sending me a list of resources on GenZ. My semester academic essay is about them. Thanks in advance.
So true Harry and it is one of the issues with the emerging generations. There is no sense of the past or the immediate present. I can send you a list for sure.
Mario knows his Gen Z!
Great post Mario, I too liked Dalrymple’s review. Are there ways that Gen Z are able to see through the internet “nonsense” to understand what is true and what isn’t?
While the emerging generations are screen-nagers they always understand that offline relationships are still the most important. This is where leadership has to become better. We must lead from our being in be present and teach them the same.
Thanks, Mario. Giligor’s quote, “Since in present days we are living in a globalised present, most of us are profoundly ignorant of our past and of our common foundational myths,” brought to mind our American History class in the MAML and how appalled I was to discover some of the truths that our public schools had glossed over. That is one positive of this age of information, we are not bound to one person’s textbook view. We have the ability to look at multiple sources and find the thread of truth that runs through them all.
In regard to Christian leaders disseminating truth, I am finding the biggest challenge is helping people understand that human development cannot be microwaved, it still takes years, knowledge, relationship, grace and experience over a long period of time to mature and become all God intended. That may be our most significant challenge to communicate in a way people believe and have a desire to be disciples/formed.
Yes, Tammy. As I continue to dive into this new research of the connected generation one thing they are saying is we are lacking good leadership because everyone is busy and distracted. The always-on and always-doing is culture tells us not to stop and have times of “deep-work” or “deep-relationships” but is those two that give space to hearing and learning the truth. It seems that we need to rediscover the pace of God over the pace of culture.
Great post Mario, disseminating the truth has always been a challenge but globalization and the internet has certainly not made it easier. The ease of access of information has become a big distraction that keeps us so busy on the electronic gadgets but away from the more important “deep work” and “Deep Relationships”. I agree with you that as Christian leaders, we have a big challenge to disseminate the truth. As you work with Gen Z, what are some of the strategies that you’re using to effectively get the truth to them?
Just diving into the strategies part, but the “deep work” concept is key. We are too busy and busy doesn’t allow us to go deep. I’m learning it’s not either-or but both-and.
Thanks for your post. Your summary statement asks the question if leadership will become as much about being as doing. I wonder if that has not always been the reality, another “new thing (concept) that is basically extremely old.” What has your experience and research taught you how to lead the emerging generation into this reality?
Yea I think there is “nothing new under the sun” but if you look at the landscape of leadership it has been mostly about knowing, having and doing, rather than being. A theology of presence and an ontological and pneumatological leadership framework is what I’m seeing will reach this generation the most.
Great post, Mario. One thing I appreciate about our younger generation is that they are more global citizens than my generation was. I appreciate my daughter showing me the “What’s app” when I went to Hong Kong last year as a way to communicate across nations without paying high fees. They seem to cross cultural lines more easily without getting caught up on the small stuff. I think for the most part its good. I hope I can keep up and takes what’s good from all of it.
Great insight Mario! I wonder what particular old themes you see re-emergin today? What aspects of our current incarnation of globalisation would you say we’ve seen before? Are there particular pitfalls we might be able to dodge if we look closely enough? Can you see points in history where Christ has disrupted the pattern? Or dream of how He, perhaps through the church, could? This is perhaps more a question of call. Thanks again for your thoughtful engagement.