Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on February 22, 2018

The company started by providing full time jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica…their artisan community “has expanded from Costa Rica to El Salvador, India, and more. Now 200+ artisans can depend on steady income in positive working environments, thanks to the support of Pura Vida bracelets customers.” They have partnered with “over 174 different charities around the world and have donated more than $1,440,822 to causes they believe in!”[1] While looking for a “cool” college-age Valentine’s gift for my daughter, an Instagram Ad caught my eye – puravida bracelets. I followed their link and was quickly sucked in to their coolness.  They support artisans and charity.  Not only did I buy Emma a set of bracelets, I ordered some for myself.  I’ve been feeling pretty good about my purchases and new online store to shop/support…then I read The Rebel Sell.

“Instead of encouraging useful activities, such as pushing for new legislation, would-be leftists are left to participate in amorphous, pointless demonstrations against “globalisation,” or buy fair-trade coffee and free-range chicken, which only substitutes snobbery for activism.”[2]  Boom!  There it is!  I felt convicted. Have I fallen into the trap of snobbery over activism? According to Elizabeth Wasserman from The Atlantic Magazine “The concept of countercultural rebellion and its elusive twin—cool—have resulted in a status competition that has driven consumption to unprecedented heights. It’s not conformism that leads us to spend, spend, spend on the unnecessary and the ephemeral, but its opposite: the quest to distinguish ourselves from the masses through our enlightened, hip, or just plain rebellious consumer preferences.” [3]  In my defense, I don’t insist on purchasing “organic” brands or free range meat (especially since I live in an agriculture community and I can purchase my chicken, beef, and pork right from the farmer).  It is fascinating to note that these authors are looking at social problems of contemporary society, including social construction of taste, the importance of cool as a positional good and the discussion of alternative lifestyle.[4] They are angry at a deception that they feel has all but destroyed the Left. The critique of mass society and the myth of corporate world domination, they argue, have led to a loss of faith among progressives in the very idea of political reform.”[5] References to social theory in Heath and Potter’s text link back to our prior reading of Contemporary Social Theory

Speaking of the authors, they both hail from Canada (breaking out into a rendition of O’Canada in my head)[6]. “The Rebel Sell is a brave book. In places it is also unfair, light on evidence and repetitively polemical. But the argument it makes is important and original. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, both young Canadian academics, think that for nearly half a century critics of capitalism have profoundly misunderstood their enemy. Worse than that, the authors argue, these critics have – sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not – provided modern capitalism with the fuel it runs on.”[7] The homeland of Heath and Potter is important because “social justice has a long history in Canada dating back to the nineteenth century. Often tied to the idea of creating a more equitable society, and therefore a “socially just society,” many of contemporary Canada’s social justice groups and institutions originated with Canada’s entry into the industrial world.”[8] “In Canada, the peaceful, evolutionary tradition of socialism prevails.”[9] Canada’s long history of social justice also applies to immigrants and refugees.

Do you remember the iconic day when President Donald Trump moved to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries in January 2017? Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out this tweet: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”[10]  Trudeau received backlash from his “open arms” statement when in a seven month time period more than “11,300 people have crossed into Canada by foot from the US. The pace has picked up in recent weeks, with as many as 250 people a day – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – entering the country at remote, unguarded locations. Doing so allows them to skirt a longstanding pact that bars most refugee claimants in the US from applying for asylum in Canada.”[11]  While Trudeau’s statement may have created political and logistical bedlam in Canada, his commitment to social justice and advocacy would be heralded by Heath and Potter. I too recognize my responsibility as a United States citizen, social worker, and Christian to advocate for social justice. Advocacy comes in many forms in my world but could be simply stated as “case and cause.” “In case advocacy, the aim is to redress power imbalances and promote the rights of individuals who are marginalized or vulnerable” whereas “cause advocacy addresses systemic issues and involves lobbying efforts aimed at policy or institutional restructuring.”[12]  Through my clinical interactions with clients, mentoring/modeling while teaching and community interaction through church and volunteer organizations I focus on advocacy by “case”. My research topic of refugee resettlement and resilience is directly connected to my desire to focus on a social justice “cause”.  This effort should be one small step towards further advocacy – lifetime advocacy – whether with refugees or mental health parity, gun reform, poverty, or systemic racism. What about you? Are you ready and willing?  After all, Micah 6:8 clearly states

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

[1] https://www.puravidabracelets.com/pages/story

[2] http://www.economist.com/node/4027702

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/04/rebels-without-a-cause/303865/

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Sell-Joseph-Heath/dp/1841126551#customerReviews

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/04/rebels-without-a-cause/303865/

[6] https://youtu.be/kRPGPAnPNa8

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/jun/04/highereducation.news1

[8] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/social-justice/

[9] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/socialism/

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/25/justin-trudeau-forced-to-backtrack-on-open-invitation-to-refugees

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/25/justin-trudeau-forced-to-backtrack-on-open-invitation-to-refugees

[12] Carlisle, S. (2000). Health promotion, advocacy and health inequities: A conceptual framework. Health Promotion International, 15(4), 369-376.


About the Author

Jean Ollis

15 responses to “O’Canada”

  1. Jennifer Williamson says:

    Thanks, Jean. This is a helpful post, and I appreciate how you have related it back to your project. I know your question at the end was rhetorical, but your post really inspired me to think about that, so I’d like to give a response. I’m active in church planting, but recently learned that while there was a very successful church planting movement in Brazil, researchers found that there was no change in the cities in which those churches were platerd. Crime rates ad poverty rates continues to rise. So this has gotten me thinking about what KIND of churches are we planting. Mst church planters are innovative, they are the Christian counterculture within the Christian culture. But are they missing the point sometimes? Yes, I’m willing to work on this!

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jenn! I agree with the Brazilian research – church plants should exist to transform their community – and I think your efforts in Lyon are headed in that direction? It seems like missionaries are a complex counter culture within the Christian culture – do you feel the tension between your ministry and sponsor churches/people in the US?

  2. Chris Pritchett says:

    Jean, I always appreciate your posts. This one, like the others, is engaging, critically thoughtful, and even personally illustrated. I particularly resonated with this notion of free-range chicken and the like being much more snobbery disguised as activism. Organic, free-range, fair trade…I’m all for it, when I can, but it’s such a privileged way of being a consumer, and there’s nothing activist about it. I think what strikes me as fraudulent about these sorts of folks is the lack of sacrifice and risk. It’s just luxury. Where in the scriptures do we read about a prophet sent by God to live a kush life among the rich?

    • Jean Ollis says:

      I agree Chris! I think both of us have a heart for the vulnerable and oppressed and have to keep ourselves in check for getting caught up in counter culture and privilege. The reality is, it works for me because I can afford to eat organic, etc. I should be advocating that all people can afford the same.

  3. Your heart comes through beautifully once again in your post. Your reference to the Canadian PM was very clever and I thought pretty hilarious in the face of Trump’s travel ban, but I did not realize until reading your post what the effect that actually had on people defecting to his country. I also loved your “case & cause” method towards social justice. I wish more people would stand up as advocates (like you), especially for the 1,500 kids getting killed each year by guns. We need to do something about this epidemic and the many others. CWTSYOW 🙂

  4. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Jake! I can’t wait to further discuss the mental health vs. gun control issue with you. Thank you for your feedback! CWTSYOWT!

  5. Jean,

    This post was clickbait for me, as you would know!!

    There is a high degree of tolerance across conservative-liberal-socialist party lines in Canada for immigration. We use a points system where people apply and are awarded points for the qualities (education, language, skills, etc.) they are bringing to the country. High scorers get in. We recognize we need immigration in order to compete and succeed as a nation. For example, over 50% of Toronto has been born in another country. It is a beautiful, multihued, linguistic mix that adds so much vibrancy to the city.

    But Canadians can be very smug about it, and it is starting to really annoy me when I see it. We can afford to be super open to immigration when the only land border we have is with the USA. We don’t face the flood of immigrants that countries like Germany did last year from Syria, or like USA from Mexico and Central America. One’s geography can really impact how one sees the world.

  6. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Jean,

    Your husband would love my “free range chicken” stories. I take my bird dog into the national forest to hunt grouse, every once in a while she will come upon some free range chickens. It is mass pandemonium, as the forest explodes with squakking and me yelling at my dog, when she catches a bunch of those, one by one, in her mouth and retrieves them back to my hand, unharmed. I crack up thinking of the people who are so thrilled that their “cool and hip” free range chicken eggs! If they only knew what my bird doggie did to them…

  7. Jason Turbeville says:

    I appreciate the self introspection in the purchase for your daughter. I know it is hard to see that for most people but for the strong it only serves to make us seek justice that much harder don’t you think.

  8. Shawn Hart says:

    Jean, I appreciate the different perspective you gave to this topic. It is interesting the many variables that this topic can bring to the table; from politics, to religion, to commerce, to refugees. Our problem is a little different in Oregon; we have heard that California buys one-way bus tickets for homeless people to go to Oregon. The problem here is that our community has started a campaign against homeless people…so how does the church resolve the conflict between the two. Your refugee situation demonstrates the influences that one person’s idea of what is important can completely clash with someone else’s world view. I applaud your desire to reach out to the masses that are seeking direction…even if they are running from America to do it. To be honest, there have been a few times in my life that temptation has been there for me too. LOL.

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