Friday, July 21, 2006

Aspen Revisited -- Philanthropy & Ideas

Neoevangelical leaders are fraternizing in the highest echelons of intellectual and global political societies these days. Last year this Aspen Ideas Festival became known among evangelicals because Saddleback pastor Rick Warren was invited to attend.

Bob Buford of the Leadership Network, who has been closely connected with both Peter Drucker (the management guru) and Rick Warren, wrote of his recent trip to Aspen, Colorado to hobnob with the global elites. Keep in mind as you read Buford's description, that this is the man who has trained an entire generation of Christian pastors and leaders in the Drucker 3-legged stool of Society model:

"As some of you know, Linda and I set aside six weeks each year in Aspen.…

"Under the direction of Walter Isaacson, The Aspen Institute is doing a remarkable job of being bipartisan and essentially creating a civil, new center in American political thought. The Aspen Ideas Festival is the most remarkable buffet of current big thinkers. Almost 200 speakers are offered across the period of a week, with sessions running from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. – more than anyone could conceivably consume. Just on the luminary side, one could hear two U.S. Supreme Court justices (Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer), the last two and the current secretaries of state ( Colin Powell , Madeleine Albright, and Condoleezza Rice ). In economics, there was Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers, the just deposed president of Harvard, who had been Bill Clinton’s secretary of the treasury, along with a batch of very savvy investment bankers and money people. Walter Isaacson is working hard to spice this mix with current evangelical Christian religious superstars – Rick Warren last year and T.D. Jakes and Ted Haggard, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, this year." [emphasis added]

Bob Buford mentions in his letter that he also attended another seminar, the Aspen Institute Seminar on International Philanthropy:

"A couple of days after the Ideas Festival, I attended an Aspen Institute Seminar on International Philanthropy. It was small and cozy by comparison with the massive Ideas Festival and the philanthropists came from Columbia, Costa Rica, London, and around the United States. One of my favorite, but seldom seen friends, the peripatetic Mort Meyerson, was one of a small group of twenty. He’s a prophet and genuine wise man. So I got to look at things from his perspective as well as my own. The first evening gathering featured an intimate reception and Q&A with Bill Gates, Sr. Of all the speakers I heard, he somehow was the most impressive…." [emphasis added]

To read more about these Aspen events see the following urls: [must sign up to read]

The Aspen Institute Seminar on International Philanthropy [] is described as:

"Donors seeking to bring about lasting social change through philanthropy must be creative and strategic. More than ever before, donors have an opportunity to play the role of catalyst, harnessing the power of individuals, governments, businesses and civil society to work together to address the world’s most pressing problems.

"The Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program and the Global Philanthropy Forum of the World Affairs Council of Northern California have designed The Aspen Institute/Global Philanthropy Forum Seminar for International Donors, a Seminar for both new and experienced philanthropists using philanthropy as a tool for social change. The Seminar invites the participation of philanthropists engaged in or hoping to become engaged in international philanthropy. Philanthropists who have committed significantly to international causes and are looking to achieve strategic impact are encouraged to participate. Participants will explore the roots of social change, through classical readings as well as candid, informal dialogue with leaders and peers." [emphases added]

For more information on the Global Philanthropy Forum which co-sponsored this Aspen Institute Seminar on International Philanthropy, see:

A list of Aspens Ideas Festivals Presenters [] included evangelical notables such as Jim Collins, Ted Haggard, T.D. Jakes, Richard Land and Jim Wallis. This is a prominent list of wealthy elites, education reform experts, corporate leaders, political leaders. Reporting cynically on several of the evangelical keynote speakers was Ross Douthat on a blog, entitled "God, Kitsch, and Crisis," which gives a peek into the evangelical speeches:

"This morning I dropped in on two discussions - a panel on American evangelicals with Richard Land, Ted Haggard, Peter Gomes, and Jim Wallis, and a smaller, irresistibly-titled presentation on "Kitsch and the Crisis of the West," by the Dutch thinker Rob Riemen. If you follow debates over religion and politics, there weren't that many surprises to be found at the evangelical jaw-jaw. Wallis argued (as he has for years) that Christians should worry more about poverty than about abortion; Land and Haggard advanced the usual evangelical "there's more to us than most secular elites think" line, while pointing out that they do care about poverty, thank you very much; Gomes was Gomesish (that is, charming, erudite, and faintly slippery); everybody agreed that the Da Vinci Code is hokum . . . and a good time was had by all, except the fellow sitting near me who said afterward that he wanted to throw something at the panelists. (I don't think there are many evangelicals, or evangelical-sympathizers, among the festival-goers.) And it's a little wearying how the same old chestnuts get trotted out year after year in the religion-and-politics debate, whether it's Land referencing (doubtless for the thousandth time) the Washington Post reporter who called evangelicals "poor, uneducated, and easily led" about fifteen years ago, or Wallis unburdening himself of the well-worn and rather dubious line that if you're an unborn child, you should stay in the womb, because religious conservatives won't care about you when you're out." [emphasis added]

For further reading on the significance of the Aspen Institute, see an important historical paper by Judy McLemore posted at .

The Truth:

Rick Warren and neoevangelical leaders are working on "advancing" a global kingdom for Christ and are aggressively and rapidly moving forward in the arenas of philanthropy. Philanthropy has historically been a useful vehicle to transform societies, leveraging change via funding mechanisms and machinations of social change. The apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation have been predicting a great outpouring of wealth to assist them in their kingdom-building endeavors. This report on the two Aspen seminars sheds considerable light on how neoevangelical leaders are being groomed to fit into the international global order scheme.

"Better is a handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit." (Ecclesiastes 4:6)