Aaron Sorkin is an award winning writer best known as the creator and writer of the hit television series “The West Wing.” He also co-wrote the award winning film “Moneyball” and won an Oscar for his screenplay for the movie, “The Social Network.” In 2012 Sorkin debuted another hit, HBO’s “The Newsroom,” in which a fictional cable news anchor decides to stop pulling punches with politically correct commentary and simply tell the truth. Like Jack Nicholson’s character from “A Few Good Men,” another Sorkin creation, the Newsroom challenges the viewers to decide if they can “handle the truth.”
Sorkin’s lead characters have a common thread: they fully invest themselves in what they are trying to accomplish. They each have a transcendent ideal. In the case of the ”The Newsroom,” the journalist desires to report the news without compromise and allow his integrity to frame the public discourse. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Aaron Sorkin on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross.
SORKIN: I like writing idealistically and romantically, and if you can do that in a place that’s usually looked at cynically, the way journalism is now, you can get something fun out of it.
GROSS: Why do you like writing idealistically? Another example of that would be “The West Wing.”
SORKIN: Sure. It suits my style. I like writing about heroes that don’t wear capes or disguises. It’s aspirational. You feel like, gee, it looks like the real world and feels like the real world. Why can’t that be the real world?
Sorkin’s shows are popular because he aspires to a transcendent ideal, calling people out of circumstances beleaguered by compromise to a higher standard of behavior. Every true transcendent ideal is inclusive and humanitarian, by definition. The ideal transcends time, holds a high anthropology, and therefore is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, also highly valuing human beings as children of God.
Of course, the transcendent ideal is just that, an ideal, without someone and some way to carry it into reality. Sorkin’s fictional leaders who live out a vision of something greater move his fans because the characters can transform the world.
“Why can’t it be the real world?” asks Sorkin. It can be. I believe the implications for the church here are profound. What would the church and society look like if the espoused and actual values of the Body of Christ were aligned and lived out? How might churches close the gap between what they profess and what they live out? I contend that the field of Organization Development can help church leaders be transformational in helping them lead people into the transcendent vision of realized eschatology, God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Howard Thurman said that we must love our neighbor, so that the values of unity, inner connectedness, and pursuit of the Kingdom of God can open up our reality and change the world. Each of these begins inside a person but becomes the outer manifestation of the follower of Jesus. “Sincerity in human relations is equal to, and the same as, sincerity to God.” Thurman speaks here of Jesus’ teaching that if you do it to “one of these you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). Getting people to get along in deep and meaningful ways is key the world change of which Thurman speaks.
The field of Organization Development (OD) provides frameworks and processes to advance transcendent ideals, by getting people to get along and go deep, moving the Church to become a true foretaste of the Kingdom of God. In other words, OD operationalizes the ideal of helping people be the church.
to put into operation, start working
Through living out the transcendent ideals of Jesus, operationalized by the field of Organization Development, the church will one day proclaim the truth of the Psalmist,
1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore (Psalm 133, Today’s New International Version).
Thanks for reading.
 Terry Gross and Aaron Sorkin Interview on Fresh Air, NPR.org. Http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=156841165
 Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited (Boston: Beacon Press, 1976) page 55.