There is a poem by Portia Nelson that tells the story of self-discovery. It goes something like this: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. I walk down … Continue reading What should we do now?
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?
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?
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?
“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
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?
"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?
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?
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?
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?
It’s Spring, and many of you are outside working in your gardens, gathering up the few piles of dried leaves, pulling weeds, and planting new flowers and bushes. The process of planting and nurturing and growing can be challenging and incredibly rewarding. Click here for a link to the lectionary reading for the day. When … Continue reading Are You a Liar?
My Shadow: one The Daemon never sleeps. Rests, perhaps. I should be so lucky for it to actually fall into deep slumber. Or even better, a coma. Alas, not this gnarled Beast with its fingers clutched around my brain, my heart, my stomach. Days roll, soundless, effortless. Good ones. Strong ones. Thoughts, clear and crisp … Continue reading My Shadow: two
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say 'My tooth is aching' than to say 'My heart is broken.' " Sleep … Continue reading My Shadow: one
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
Sermon from The Rev. Dr. John Toles. One of my favorite bands is Rush. They have a song from their Counterparts album called "Double Agent." The first two lines of this song are, "Where would you rather be? Anywhere... Anywhere but here. When would the time be right? Anytime but now." This sermon from John+ … Continue reading What I Heard from the Pulpit
“We live in the time of silence, between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder.” My cousin Fr. John gave his sermon today regarding the Gospel passage in Mark 13:1-8 when Jesus’ disciples asked Him what the end time will look like. He told them there will be hard things happening, that there … Continue reading What Are You Doing?
. . . this is gonna be a rant! If you don't want to read, skip it. If you agree, great. If you don't, great. Just know that these are my observations, my perspectives, my words, and (ultimately) my blog. I don't know if Gandhi actually said it or not, and I don't really care. … Continue reading Beware . . .
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?
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
Part 1: Culture We live in a culture that wants permanency, expects stability, desires equality. We also live in a culture that appreciates newness, anticipates change, values improvement. When we apply these aspects of life in general to the specific topic of marriage, the water can become muddied and difficult to navigate. In a culture … Continue reading Marriage and Divorce
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
We recall Joshua asking the people, “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living” (24:15). We recall God destroying two peoples with fire from the heavens: “Then the Lord rained on Sodom … Continue reading Amos
Don't get tripped up on the piddly things that you lose sight of the deeper issues. In Sunday's sermon, Fr. John referenced the Gospel text in which the Canaanite woman went to Jesus and asked for help for her demon-possessed daughter. The disciples got angry, however, and urged Jesus to get rid of her: she … Continue reading What I Heard from the Pulpit…
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
Nestled amongst the major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel lies the small but powerful book of Lamentations. While the prophets offer the dooming judgment of Almighty God upon Israel and Judah, trapped within the chaos and devastation of their own making, Lamentations allows a glimpse of the raw, exposed emotions of Jerusalem and … Continue reading Lamentations
Reading Archbishop Michael Ramsey's work The Christian Priest Today again as I am a secondary English teacher in a private Christian school, our text jumps and pops with relevance, direction, and encouragement! What speaks to me most significantly is Ramsey's direction to, "Tend the flock in your charge" (pg 69). As a leader Ramsey understands … Continue reading Tend Your Flock
The Book of Jeremiah makes its mark upon the canon by speaking of the iniquity of the people in clear and devastating terms, the anguish and fury of God, and the subsequent ripple effect that iniquity causes throughout the land and the ages. The book opens with a series of lamentations from the people to … Continue reading Jeremiah
In spite of the physical shortcomings, the emotional health, the socio-economic status, the age, the depth of spiritual maturity, and even the wavering strength of the individual, God will have His way. There is no reason or what we might consider as a barrier to Him who will see completion of His design. He is … Continue reading Discernment
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
The book of Proverbs is distinct from other texts in the canon in that it offers to bridge the gap between the laws from God and the motivational behavior of the people. To put this writing into context of the Old Testament so far (succinctly): the Pentateuch seeks to establish creation, God’s relationship with man, … Continue reading Proverbs
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
While not the only theme of the book of Joshua, a strong current within the text is a handbook, if you will, regarding the qualities necessary in righteous leadership. Joshua is not the first significant leader of the Old Testament; he follows Abraham, Noah, Jacob, Moses, and Aaron. However, his lot is given to him … Continue reading Joshua
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 book of Numbers continues to establish the law in tedium and subsequently offers a case study of application to the law regarding God’s boundaries and expectations, the consequences of breaking said boundaries and exacting God’s justice, and the bestowing of God’s loving mercy when the people repent. The prescription of the law to the … Continue reading Numbers
"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
The book of Genesis offers identity, purpose, and hope to God's chosen people through the land; this tangible gift from God allows the people to suffer and thrive according to their obedience to Him and commitment to His promise. God gave to Adam the gift of land in the garden of Eden, to tend it … Continue reading Genesis
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?
I have the immense honor of writing for The Ambrose Institute, a spiritual formation and congregational development program through Nashotah House Theological Seminary. This is my latest article written for Formatio, the online journal of Ambrose. Just click the links and see the amazing work they do to form and encourage the Body of Christ!
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?
It seems to me that we mortal men desire to see relevance and to understand meaning in every event. We need to understand the "why" and "how" of things, and by doing so we validate that thing's presence, its breaking through into our little worlds with its disruptions or smoothing over. We need the link … Continue reading Ah! The humanity of man!
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
I do not believe that, as a general rule, we live into the phrase "'the kingdom of God, as Jesus proclaimed. I do not believe we understand the gravity and power of its implication; because of the limitations inherent in our humanity, I believe we limit God. Let me step back and lay some … Continue reading Jesus in a Box
Think back to that year before you were officially a “teenager.” What were you doing when you were 12 years old? I think to when I was 12 and remember I was completing my last year of braces, worried about pre-pubescent acne, and getting irritated on a daily basis at how nosey my parents were. … Continue reading Agnes, Martyr of Rome 304
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
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
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
What is the point of baptism? Why should we view that event with such reverence, and in some traditions, why is it a holy sacrament? Historically, God stated in Ezekial 36:25, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse … Continue reading Eww! Stinky! My soul needs a BATH!!
While not the only theme of the book of Joshua, a strong current within the text is a handbook, if you will, regarding the qualities necessary in righteous leadership. Joshua is not the first significant leader of the Old Testament; he follows Abraham, Noah, Jacob, Moses, and Aaron. However, his lot is given to … Continue reading Leading from the Front
What's that you say?? You DON'T consider Jesus as your friend?!?! No, not at that point....yet!
The Angelus tolls in the crisp air, and I am reminded of the gift of God bestowed to the Virgin Mary. As the bell continues its patterned ring, I speak my prayers and offer my heart to the Lord. May this pause offer an opportunity to be mindful of Christ in my life … Continue reading Without Ceasing…
Before the days of cell phones and texting, many children knew when it was time to go indoors in the evening by the sunset. When that last sliver of the sun sank into the horizon, we knew we had to stop playing hide and seek or riding our bikes or fishing for crawdads at the … Continue reading St. Teresa of Avila
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
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
Alister McGrath, in his Christian Theology, spent the last two chapters discussing the doctrine of God and of the Holy Spirit. It stands to reason that his next chapters discuss the doctrine of Christ and Christ in history. Christology, the doctrine of the person of Christ, seeks to understand what Christ reveals in an … Continue reading Down with Enlightenment!
"Bless, O Lord, this House, set apart to the glory of thy great name and the benefit of thy Holy Church; and grant that thy Name may be worshipped here in truth and purity to all generations. Give thy grace and wisdom to all the authorities, that they may exercise holy discipline, and be themselves … Continue reading Daughter of the House
"Donald Miller" This name has spawned a bit of backlash recently. Why? He wrote a blog post about why he doesn't attend church much, if at all, anymore. I read his original post here. I then read his follow-up post here. I then read some responses to is blog here ... and here ... and here ... … Continue reading Where Are You Going?
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.”
I've been following a pastor out of Canada on his blog for a while now. Carey Nieuwhof. He makes excellent points regarding church growth, connecting with one another, how to look at your church without a filter, (more importantly?) how to look at yourself without a filter, and so much more. What he says, … Continue reading I’m Liking This Guy
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
Abstract: The project will reveal the significance of the sacrament of baptism in the work of the church, both regarding the baptismal candidate as well as the catholic church. Jewish history reveals purification ceremonies that, with the baptism of Jesus, have marked a critical moment of the believer in a bath of both water … Continue reading Water & Spirit
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
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!
Okay! Here's the deal! Do you REALLY care... that I'm not from Montana; that I went to a Baptist university; that I don't like my foods touching each other on my plate; that I love dogs AND cats; that I have two finches named Drambuie and Benedictine; that I like tomatoes and spaghetti and tomato basil soup but … Continue reading thisisnotasitappears
John Donne penned: "No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main…" There is so much negativity in the world and in the community. There can be so much that can come against us that seeks to tear us down, hurt us, diminish … Continue reading What You Don’t Know
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NRSV. We arrive with knowledge of God, the One, through Aristotle’s methods: “...as is possible for us … Continue reading “My thoughts…your thoughts…”
"Fill me with your Holy Spirit." "Make me more like you." "Show me your way." These are all phrases that I've said in my life at some point or another. Heartfelt. Impassioned. Sincere. But these are inaccurate. In order to be like Christ, the divine, I must be empty. Void. Bare. Nothing. If I … Continue reading Fill ‘er up!
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
"The heroic minute. It's time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and . . . up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body." Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #206.
Alabaster trees huddled as sentinels, guarding the quietly powerful spirit within. The silent soldiers give way to fields of pristine banks of snow. Untrodden by neither human nor animal foot. Nestled amongst the drifts are stone edifices blanketed with white cottony snow. Purity. Knowledge. Answers. Definition.
"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?
I've been on the hunt for blogs and websites to follow. A friend from Baylor posted this article on her FB page, and I just had to link it through. The blog is "In The Parlor". We're getting all mired in the details of condemnation . Yes, we must speak our truth as I stated … Continue reading Blog: “In The Parlor”
I saw a couple of interviews from Phil on Duck Dynasty. These interviews were done a while back, but he has a very good take on what's going on with the media and its twisting of reality. Phil ain't no redneck dummy! Click the link here and have a look. I also posted my comment … Continue reading I See What You Did There
* This is a not cohesive post! It started out with a singular thought, and morphed into a mass of opinions and responses. But I will leave it as it is without editing, a jumbled mass, and let you sift through it. 🙂 * I have been following the Duck Dynasty, much like many others, … Continue reading A Murder of Crows
I read a thoughtful article over on a blog I follow called Facebook Apostles. The article helped briefly to define our motivation for serving: ego or calling. I was struck by the last bullet point: "Ego wants to preserve the self. Calling wants to impact others." I am discovering this difference for myself now. Ego … Continue reading Le’go my ego!
Today is a brilliant day! I have been formally accepted into graduate school at Nashotah House Theological Seminary! I truly don't know how I got here, nor do I know how it will all go from here forward. But for right now I want to bask in the joy and the fear! This picture was … Continue reading Nashotah House
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”?
Tuesday, December 10th, was my birthday, and it was a wonderful day! From dawn to dusk! I was reminded of amazing aspects of my life that I am ever-so-grateful for. I have loving and kind parents who have supported and encouraged me and allow me to be me. I have the world's best cousin who … Continue reading Make a Wish
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
It's -19 degrees in Billings, MT, today. I went outside to shovel a small patch of frozen ground out of the ice and snow for my long-hair dachshund to potty. As soon as I stepped outside and I breathed the ice-crystal-saturated air, my nose hairs bristled and my eyes stung. It. Is. Cold. And my … Continue reading Wisdom Denied
When we get caught doing something wrong, whether is it secretly snatching a cookie, gossiping about someone, or cheating on a loved one, why are we sorry? Are we sorry because (1) we committed the wrong in the first place? Or, are we sorry that (2) we committed the wrong, got caught, and ultimately hurt … Continue reading Busted!
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!