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

“That’s Curious!” Elisabeth Buehler

Written by: on April 27, 2022

The one’s mind is an amazing organ that can collaborate with others to solve the most seemingly unsurmountable challenges. Yet those same brilliant, and incredibly gifted individuals can become fixated on the numbers that substantiate their certainly. [1] Hans Rosling with his daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund and son Ola Rosling joined forces in challenging the world to re-exam its perception of the severity of the global issues of our day in their book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. [2] Factfulness, a social science looks at statistics that is rich in Rosling’s anecdotal global medical experiences. The book is structured around the systematic explanation of the “ten persistent, data-distorting human instincts,” [3] and the helpful tools that can be used to dismantle their negative effects resulting in a broader more productive worldview. It is his stories which document related experiences in some of the world’s most needy communities and his meticulous analysis of data which gives credibility to his hopeful view that “a fact-based worldview…is not as bad as it seems.” [4] The authors create a calming voice to these instincts in our otherwise world of negative [5] and fear [6] inducing media that is often intertwined with political figures who are cherry picking numbers [7] to place blame [8] on opposing parties while attempting to convince their constitutes of the urgency [9] of a particular issue.

In the last two years our world has endured a global pandemic, there is the real possibility of a financial collapse as countries are dealing with increasing inflation, and the threat of a third World War three of the five “real-world risks that demand attention,” [10] which Hans Rosling did not see coming. And with it is this pervading sense that “things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse.” [11] If Rosling were around, he would be encouraging us to fight against easy answers from simple limited numbers. [12] He would be challenging decision makers to press into what are the contributing factors of the system. Thus, opening the door to see beyond the presenting issue to see those individuals most affected while finding solutions that diminish collateral damages. [13]

“That’s curious!” my Swiss friend Elisabeth would say anytime something in Poland was different. I do not know if it is because English is her third language, and she does not know that we would not usually reply that way or she is being the non-confrontive Swiss. That phrase has always stuck with me, opening my eyes to look at the world with innocence and curiosity of a child. When I can approach life’s challenges with “that’s curious,” there is room for the peace of Christ to rest in my heart and anticipation of what he might do. It is at these times that my words contain more grace, honor, and my eyes are open to see beyond my preconceived ideas to embrace the complexities and opportunities with expectancy rather than dread. [14] Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said that we had to be like children to enter the kingdom of God.

[1] Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Ola Rosling; Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World–And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. (Flatiron Books, 2020), 187-191.
[2] Rosling and Rosling Rönnlund; Rosling, Factfulness.
[3] Richard Goerwitz and Carleton College, “Review of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, and Ola Rosling.,” Numeracy 11, no. 1 (July 2019): 1, https://doi.org/10.5038/1936-4660.12.2.19.
[4] Rosling and Anna Rosling; Rosling, Factfulness, 255.
[5] Ibid., 47-74.
[6] Ibid., 101-123.
[7] Tom Chivers and David Chivers, How to Read Numbers: A Guide to Statistics in the News (and Knowing When to Trust Them) (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2021).
[8] Rosling and Anna Rosling; Rosling, Factfulness, 204-222.
[9] Ibid., 223-242.
[10] Kirkus, “Review-Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than We Think,” Kirkus Media, May 1, 2018, 2, https://georgefox.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/trade-journals/factfulness/docview/2031679506/se-2?accountid=11085.
[11] Rosling and Anna Rosling; Rosling, Factfulness, 13.
[12] Ibid., 41.
[13] Ibid., 223-236.
[14] Ibid., 203.

About the Author


Denise Johnson

Special Education teacher K-12, School Counselor K-12, Overseas field worker in Poland,

6 responses to ““That’s Curious!” Elisabeth Buehler”

  1. Elmarie Parker says:

    Hi Denise…thank you for your thoughtful post and engagement with Rosling’s book. I appreciated your reference from a review of Rosling’s books–noting the 3 things Rosling didn’t see coming. Very interesting. I also valued your emphasis on curiosity. I have also found that when I take this posture I experience more grace and openness to the people and world around me. What have you found helps you to move in this direction if you are caught in a less-than-curious headspace?

  2. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Elmaire, Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I see my friend Elisabeth and I can hear her say “that’s curious,” with all the innocence of a child. I am always looking for the person on the outside of the action and seeking to hear their perspective. I am not sure that answers your question.

  3. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Denise: I love this phrase. If we relate this to your NPO, what do you find you’ve been curious about as you’ve been diving in?

    • mm Denise Johnson says:

      Kayli, Thanks for the question. As far as my NPO I am in a constant place of curiosity as I look at ways to encourage individuals to be in control of their own discipleship. This requires a lot more conversations, that are filled with more listening and less talking or instruction. I think that is what surprised me most about my prototypes is just how excited they all were to be more empowered.

  4. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Denise: I loved this book too; so hopeful and optimistic. No drama, please, no hyperbole like we see in the media everyday. It’s how I like to do ministry–optimistically and rationally. I’m so glad Dr. Clark ended the semester with this book. have a great summer, see you in South Africa.

  5. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Denise, such a great summary of the book. It’s funny that you mention the pandemic – as I read, I wondered what Rosling would have recommended and done during the last two years if he was around. I suspect he would have supported masks and vaccines as a person of science, but beyond that, what would he have said about it light of his positive view of improving health and life in today’s world. I also appreciate your story of your Swiss friend. It’s interesting to me that some people feel a need to correct those who are different than they are or disagree with them while others seek to understand. How do you think people can nurture your friend’s curiosity?

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