Why do you stay?

I remember when I was in college I wanted to be a counselor.  Differences in how people respond to situations fascinated me, and I particularly enjoyed abnormal psychology. I also enjoyed child psychology, nature versus nurture, and how children reacted during different circumstances and to various types of people.  And, how situations in childhood could … Continue reading Why do you stay?

What do you mean I have to stop?

It was Winnie the Pooh who said, “Some people say that nothing is impossible.  Well, I do nothing every day.”   It was Audrey Hepburn who said, “I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel.” … Continue reading What do you mean I have to stop?

What should I ask for?

There’s a story written by a brilliant, moral fiber of our American South.  An author of significant renown who, upon hearing about the death of a neighbor, said, “I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.”  This witty man of significant depth of character, two … Continue reading What should I ask for?

Who does he think he is?

Thomas Wolfe wrote an incredible story about a man named George Webber.  George, our protagonist of the story, writes a scandalous yet, from his perspective, accurate reflection of his experiences growing up in deep-south Libya Hill.  Initially, when news of a hometown boy’s story gets published, the town is overjoyed that one of their own … Continue reading Who does he think he is?

Suffering, Relationship, and Baptism

“The sun lay on the grass and warmed it, and in the shade under the grass the insects moved, ants and ant lions to set traps for them, grasshoppers to jump into the air and flick their yellow wings for a second, and bugs like little armadillos, plodding restlessly on many tender feet.  And over … Continue reading Suffering, Relationship, and Baptism

When is this ever going to get easier?

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote: “Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvited sleep The Kraken sleeps:  faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides:  above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot … Continue reading When is this ever going to get easier?

Are you sure it’s me that you really need?

"Once there was a tree.... and she loved a little boy. And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when … Continue reading Are you sure it’s me that you really need?

Did Jesus redefine what family actually is?

I’m not a joke teller.  I couldn’t even tell a knock knock joke to save my life.  I always get the punch line wrong or I forget to tell an important nugget of the story that is critical to making the joke actually work.  So, if you ever hear me tell a complete and funny … Continue reading Did Jesus redefine what family actually is?

Is There a Place for Me, Too?

I read of a Sunday School class that was studying the Apostles Creed in order to more fully understand God and the Trinity.  Each member of the class was given a section of the creed to learn by heart, then Sunday by Sunday they would take turns reciting the creed, each student repeating his or … Continue reading Is There a Place for Me, Too?

What?! Those People Too?

One of my favorites movies, probably in my top 5 favorites, is a movie called High Fidelity. It’s about a man, John Cusack, who owns a record store and measures the activities and reactions of his life to the lyrics of music.  And everything is measured on a “top 5” scale.  He has a conversation … Continue reading What?! Those People Too?

And we scratch our heads in disbelief

I subscribe to Christianity Today and read this article today regarding the SBC discussing the expulsion of churches within their organization who have been covering up abuse. My response is twofold. "The SBC is considering requiring background checks for denominational leaders and has urged churches to include such screening in the ordination process." This quote … Continue reading And we scratch our heads in disbelief

What is Ascetical Theology?

Benedict of Nursia wrote that a monastic must have three intentional qualities of life in devotion to God: stabilitas , obedientia , and conversio morem. These behaviors -- no, relationship-bearing vows -- are what anchor a person to an ascetic life. One must be in a consistent church body home in which there is accountability … Continue reading What is Ascetical Theology?

God and Trinity

Two chapters from Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction focuses on the doctrines of God and of the Trinity. The first concern addressed is the doctrine of God. McGrath offers the minor theory that God might not be male and quickly moves forward. He identifies the “personhood” of God through such philosophers as Tertullian, Spinoza, … Continue reading God and Trinity

Simon Chan

In his text Spiritual Theology  Simon Chan addresses these topics: nature of spiritual theology, doctrine of God, nature of sin, and elements in salvation. Chan states that spiritual theology is quite different from spirituality: “spirituality is the lived reality, whereas spiritual theology is the systematic reflection and formalization of that reality” (16). Spirituality could be … Continue reading Simon Chan

Julian of Norwich

Addressing the introduction to Julian's Showings is a challenging task, indeed. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh have densely packed their research of the text noting the differences between the Short Text and the Long Text, Julian's theology and exegesis of her showings, her keen development of the rhetorical style, the role of contemplation, and the … Continue reading Julian of Norwich

Margery Kempe

Described as "a 'wet blanket in any company which was innocently enjoying itself,' " such is Margery Kempe according to a source included in Anthony Bale's introduction to her Book. Bale offers an objective -- if not twinged with tongue-in-cheek -- observation of Kempe's colorful life. He includes the standard background to the life of … Continue reading Margery Kempe

Walter Hilton

Most likely written to an anchoress, Walter Hilton offers instruction and guidance concerning the spiritual journey towards God in his Ladder (or Scale) of Perfection. This text, however, is prefaced by Clifton Wolters in the introduction; Wolters reflects on Ladder and Hilton specifically with a sense of objectivity mingled with admiration. Wolters, familiar with Hilton's … Continue reading Walter Hilton

What I Heard from the Pulpit…

Today is the celebration of the Transfiguration, a moment in Luke's Gospel (our reading passage for today) in which Jesus reveals Himself in His Divine Glory to Peter, John, and James.  The sermon this morning offered a different perspective on this event.  The lectionary reading also included Moses, face shining from having experienced the Glory … Continue reading What I Heard from the Pulpit…

The Cloud of Unknowing

"The quality of the contemplative effort which measures all progress in the interior life of the solitary is immediately related to the reflex conscious awareness of the self in its relationship to God, the supreme and single object of its desire" (64). While James Walsh in writing the Introduction to The Cloud of Unknowing understands … Continue reading The Cloud of Unknowing

How Much Does It Cost?

Henri Nouwen writes: "Nuclear man no longer believes in anything that is always and everywhere...He lives by the hour...His art...is a combination of divergent pieces, is a host impression of how man feels at the moment [emphasis mine]." Further, "We see man paralyzed by dislocation and fragmentation, caught in the prison of his own mortality...We … Continue reading How Much Does It Cost?

Is it live, or is it Memorex?

In post-modern culture we guard the written word and even the ideas behind the ideas with patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  We protect and lay claim to our creation like a dog marks its territory.  However, there are some scholars who find it necessary to analyze the verbiage, syntax, and style -- to distinguish the "authentic" … Continue reading Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament

Aquinas speaks to the relation between nature and grace concerning the sacraments.  However, we should first understand the value of grace according to Aquinas and his predecessors. In Question 2, Article 10, he references Augustine:  “By the same grace every man is made a Christian, from the beginning of his faith, as this man from … Continue reading Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament

A cuppa tea with…Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Silent Meditation vs Empty Chatter In this chapter Thomas moves further into meditative prayer...what it is and certainly what it is not.  He encourages us that interior prayer is simple, silent, and often expressed through small acts.  He cautions us that we convince ourselves that to have a "true prayer life" we must be engaged … Continue reading A cuppa tea with…Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Inertia.  Coldness.  Confusion. Thomas speaks of these as we all experience them at some point (or many points) in our prayer life.  What do we do when faced with these empty spaces, these times when nothing seems to matter and nothing gains traction? He warns that this might be a time when we have separated … Continue reading A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

  Thomas suggests instead of seeking a "method" of prayer, we should choose a "life" of prayer.  It should be intentional behavior to life and not akin to the enthusiasm of acquiring a new skill.  God calls us to life with HIm; prayer is that response.  In meditation we face the harsh realities of ourselves and … Continue reading A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Last McGrath and a Smidge of Eschatology

  In completion of McGrath’s Christian Theology, he discusses the doctrine of the church and the sacraments, Christianity against the backdrop of world religions, and eschatology. First, McGrath presents the populations of the church through the ages.  Isidore states the church is “‘the assembly of saints joined together by correct faith and an excellent manner … Continue reading Last McGrath and a Smidge of Eschatology

Skeezer wants an Abe of Kibbles and Bits

  Are you addicted to religion? As some may know, I have become disillusioned (Ha! interesting word considering what I'm about to say...) with evangelical, emotion-laden, mega church environments that seem to be taking over the Christian world in these last several years.  I do not agree with a church environment that attempts to illicit … Continue reading Skeezer wants an Abe of Kibbles and Bits

“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”

  My Systematic Theology class had an online discussion thread going last week regarding the reading for Alister McGrath's Christian Theology.  The thread began with a question of natural catastrophes on the planet and where God is (if anywhere) in that event.  McGrath speaks of "influence and persuasion" regarding God's nudging man to righteousness.  Numerous … Continue reading “And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”

Can You Say That a Bit Slower This Time

  Two chapters from Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction focuses on the doctrines of God and of the Trinity. The first concern addressed is the doctrine of God.  McGrath offers the minor theory that God might not be male and quickly moves forward.  He identifies the “personhood” of God through such philosophers as Tertullian, … Continue reading Can You Say That a Bit Slower This Time

Watch out

  Continuing with Allen’s and Springsted’s Philosophy for Understanding Theology, the last two chapters discuss the issues within postmodern philosophy as well as its ethical concerns. A working definition of “postmodern” cannot be framed without first a foundation of what “modern” philosophy is.  Modern philosophy must be objective and universal, and it must have guidelines … Continue reading Watch out

Just Under the Wire!

  In Allen’s and Springsted’s Philosophy for Understanding Theology, chapters 7 through 11 builds upon the established philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Barth.  They move to modern philosophies as methods for understanding how man assesses his relationship to The Divine. The authors illustrate in the seventh chapter through several approaches:  moderate realism, humanism, hierarchical … Continue reading Just Under the Wire!

Kenosis

  It's Tuesday, right?  My mind is a jumbled mess!  Dimensions of theological study.  Sacred theology.  Natural theology.  Spiritual theology.  Philosophical theology.  Nothing moves outside of God = unmoved mover >>> Aristotle.  Recidivism vs. Relativism.  Fukuyama.  Adler.  Barth.  Solzhenitsyn.  Nietzsche.  Aquinas.  Lewis.  Pannenberg.  Jungel.  Plato.  The "mystery" of faith.  Wisdom of God (Truth).  Holiness of … Continue reading Kenosis

Is it really so difficult?

"I know I got really, really angry.  And I kinda feel bad about that.  But they really, really pissed me off!  And I was justified to get angry -- I really was justified!  *hands on hips for emphasis*  I don't think I should have to apologize.  Well, I'll just get them a small gift instead. … Continue reading Is it really so difficult?

Pope Francis as Time’s “Person of the Year”?

I read a post this morning on a website/blog I follow for youth ministers call MorethanDodgeBall.com.  This post questioned the reasons Pope Francis was named person for the year for one of two reasons:  "because of how he embodies Jesus Christ or because of how he embodies Jesus Christ in ways that are 'nice' and … Continue reading Pope Francis as Time’s “Person of the Year”?

Entropic Deterioration

Merriam-Webster:  entropy -- a degradation or running down or a trend to disorder. Chaos is a living, breathing, viable being hell-bent on one purpose:  to devour, to consume, to obliterate. We arise in the morning facing a new dawn, a fresh chance, a blank slate.  Clear.  Barrier-less.  Free. Smoke creeps along the edges of the … Continue reading Entropic Deterioration

The Bulkhead Did It!

  I’m in the airport looking forward to my return flight home to Montana.  I’ve got all my security items with me:  cell phone, books, planner, laptop, lip balm, cinnamon gum, small Americano.  I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving visit at my parents’ with Dad’s family visiting.  Too much food.  Lots of peace and quiet.  … Continue reading The Bulkhead Did It!