*** spoiler alert ***
Having watched “Cap 2” and its TV cousin “Agents of SHIELD”, I believe there are important organizational lessons to be gleaned from the taking down of SHIELD by HYDRA:
1. Even well established organisations are not free from corruption
For decades, SHIELD was made out to be THE law enforcement agency, thanks to the help of some swashbuckling superheroes assembled by Col. N. Fury. Who knew that it was all along infiltrated by (Hail) HYDRA agents, even to the highest level of authority! Like it or not, organisations are organically made up of various people with their own intent and motives. Just because it claims something in its vision or mission statement doesn’t mean all its staff adhere to it. SHIELD’s vulnerability is a reminder that even the most renowned and reputable companies can be corrupted from within.
2. Office politics can be so well covered up that you don’t realize its there
In the both the movie and TV series, one would have no inkling that several of its more well known SHIELD agents actually belong to HYDRA. They go about their daily business just like the rest, even contributing to the organization’s success. But they secretly draw others into their evil ranks, plotting harm to the organization and the world. Indeed, only time (and sometimes good discernment) will tell and reveal one’s true motives. Fury had his suspicions that something wasn’t right, and hence started developing trust issues with the people around him. He’s not to blame for being cautious. He was pushed to do so by office politics.
3. Your friend might be brainwashed to join “the other side”
It may sound bleak, but you never know if your friend has joined the other side of office politics. It happened to Bucky – Cap’s best friend from his childhood. Having been brainwashed by HYDRA, Bucky made bringing down Cap his mission. As the adage goes – not all who smile at you are your friends. And not all who oppose you are your enemies.
4. The man who appointed you might be the worst asshole
Fury was given his appointment by SHIELD’s top honcho Alexander Pierce (marvelously portrayed by Robert Redford), who now heads the World Security Council. And he also happened to be the mastermind in plotting HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD. Who would have known that even Fury’s climbing up the corporate ladder was part and parcel of Pierce’s grander scheme of things? Simply put, Fury was employed to be a sucker for the organization – doing all the work for an idiot.
5. The man who rebels might become the savior
Not all rebels have ill intent. Some, like Agent Phil Coulson, are reacting against office politics and flawed management policies because they still believe in what the organization stands for, and looks to a restoration of things. But others will perceive his unconventional practices as a threat.
This marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died in a stadium accident. Liverpool’s motto – You’ll Never Walk Alone – serves as a stark reminder that incidents like this affects not just individuals, but the entire communities. Shankly Gates in Anfield is over run with scarves and candles. The fans in the stadium delivered the most heartfelt rendition of the anthem before Sunday’s match. Church bells all over Liverpool rang in unison.
A tight knit community this town is. And it’s not only about Hillsborough.
During my visit to Liverpool, I was invited by a local youth centre to attend a children’s charity soccer event in commemoration of a student who was killed by a speeding car years back. Never forgotten, the town folks rallied to bring down the speed limit in school areas and small roads to 20 mph.
Incidents can rally the people into solidarity. Especially for a team who has not tasted league victory for 24 years. Steven Gerrard shed a tear after beating Man City 3-2 on Sunday as he was reminded of his own cousin who died in Hillsborough. But it was also tears of hope that Liverpool has every chance to top the league this season with 4 games remaining.
I really hope they do.
Part of the duties of pastors is to protect the flock that God has entrusted into their care. This includes educating them about false teachings and unbiblical theologies that are making their rounds. The Apostle Paul warned the Galatians about the Judaizers. Ambrose launched a campaign against Arianism. William Seymour sought hard to bring racial reconciliation in a time when white supremacists marginalized the blacks. More recently, some pastors in America have publicly singled out prosperity gospellers such as Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer.
Why educate? One cannot simply assume that every lay church member knows these false teachings when they come across one. The deception is not always that obvious. For instance, the prosperity gospel, or the health and wealth message, can appear to be scriptural for its wide use of biblical references. Without proper theological grounding, one may find it difficult to pinpoint the error. Joel Osteen’s books are best sellers, even in secular bookstores. Each time I step into Tecman or SKS, I see many raving over the books of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Earlier, I posted about the prosperity gospel:
I find that in Singapore, pastors generally hold back from bringing these issues up publicly to the congregation. Here’re some possible reasons why:
- We value religious harmony. It’s a Singaporean thing. We don’t want to cause any dissent or be seen as being judgmental or holier-than-thou.
- We are afraid to offend. It’s a small country, so you can’t hide. And the false teachers are usually the big players. No point setting yourself up against Goliath.
- We are passive. Besides minding our own business, we prefer not to initiate something unless someone else does it first (and does not get into trouble doing it). Moreover, the National Council of Churches in Singapore (NCCS) doesn’t seem to be bothered.
- We have absolutely no idea what’s going on.
But if we continue to stay silent, it will be detrimental to allow our congregation to continue to gravitate towards these false teachings. For instance, the recent news of City Harvest allegedly misappropriating funds could serve as an excellent platform for learning. But churches were told to zip up, and keep the accused in prayers (made to sound as if it’s the most loving thing to do at this point in time). But love also requires us, not to judge, but to protect our flock from erroneous beliefs and uphold the truth of the gospel.
As one pastor faces potential jail term for his costly misappropriation of church money in Singapore, it is wise to consider the words that one other pastor wrote when he was jailed for the cost of discipleship:
“To make a start, the Church should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. The church must share in the secular problems of human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others. In particular, our own church will have to take the field against the vices of hubris, power-worship, envy, and humbug, as the roots of all evil. It will have to speak of moderation, purity, trust, loyalty, constancy, patience, discipline, humility, contentment, and modesty.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
1. The husband must undertake the principal part of the government of the whole family, even of the wife herself: Labour to be fit and able for this task!
2. The husband must so unite authority and love that neither of them may be omitted or concealed, but both will be exercised and maintained: As your love must be a governing love, so your commands must be loving commands.
3. The husband must preserve the authority of their wives over their children: Do not let your kid be rude to your wives.
4. The husband is to exceed the wife in knowledge and be her teacher in the matters that belong to her salvation: But if you are ignorant, your wife is not bound to seek your for advice.
5. The husband must be the principal teacher of the family: If you are unable to do so, shame on you. If you are unable and your wife can, dishonour be onto you. If both you and your wife can’t, “sin, shame and suffering will be common to both”.
6. The husband is the chief provider for the family: Be careful that your family lacks nothing that is fit for them!
7. The husband must be the strongest in family patience: Preserve the love and peace in the household.
And all the wives say “Amen!”