I read Nouwen like I listened to the stories of my grandparents: I want to carry the family likeness. I want to receive these stories, these words, inI read Nouwen like I listened to the stories of my grandparents: I want to carry the family likeness. I want to receive these stories, these words, into the depths of my being and live from that source.
Each day's reading in *Bread for the Journey* is a short letter of sorts, a little note to live by. They're small reminders that say, "Don't forget who you are and the family who is with you."
The daily sections are short and easy to read; they're a wonderful way to start the day. In my case, I read them beside Scripture and prayer and let Henri's words weave the life of Scripture and prayer together. For me, it's like I'm watching my grandfather live the spiritual life and speak about it right beside me, every morning. I read Scripture and then hear his voice, his thoughts before dawn....more
Behold the Spirit: The Necessity of Mystical Religion by Alan Watts
Initial Question(s): Can I discover what has my father found so influentBehold the Spirit: The Necessity of Mystical Religion by Alan Watts
Initial Question(s): Can I discover what has my father found so influential about this book that he keeps coming back to it? What might I relate to as I read?
Behold the Spirit was an invigorating, thought provoking read about taking the incarnation of Jesus seriously. Taking the incarnation seriously means, as I paraphrase Watts, to see that union with God has already been established in creation - God has taken this first and permanent step in love. Humanity's goal or life purpose then is to become awakened to this already-present grace of God's presence and love.
The tenor of the book (and what I resonated with and believe my father might resonate with also) is that the institutional state of Christianity is more often focused on propagating or preserving itself than living into this reality - as in: the goal is to grow church membership and increase congregational activity, but little time and energy is spent on living into the present reality of God's unifying love which is already present, un-earned; it's a love that is longing for us to wake up to it so we can more and more fully live with God in the here and now.
Behold the Spirit weaves in an out of other mind-filling questions and ideas, as well as projections that Christians might look to Eastern culture and see there a capacity for living in the here and now in a way that the incarnation suggests.
Do I agree? Yes - I think what we see in Jesus as we read the Gospels is much of the time not very "Western" (however hard that is for us Westerners to hear). Many of Jesus' rhythms are something we'd find more akin to today's Eastern cultures (generally) - which means I think we in the West should approach Jesus in the Gospels first and from that, ask ourselves, "How can we step into this life of salvation and who or what can help us practice that way?"
My greatest "take away" from the book: The "mystical" life is not the crazy or esoteric fanaticism many imagine but rather an awakened ("whoever has eyes to see"), un-earned, received grace to live with and within God in the present moment - and to see that such a moment is the chief purpose of life; it is quite simply coming to see that the Kingdom of God is truly already present - God is here: Live....more
Ministry life is often idealized as a warm, simple way of life that helps others getResilient Ministry (A Review)
Book by Burns, Chapman, & Guthrie
Ministry life is often idealized as a warm, simple way of life that helps others get caught up in the same as we walk in Christ together. That's at least one ideal. I bet you can imagine others.
What's been discovered is that the ideals held in ministry often clash with expectations others hold. This obviously causes friction which at times leads ministers to look for other things to do instead of traditional, church ministry.
We've been hearing alarms signaling this friction for a while now and we've been looking for ways to bring healing to it.
The book Resilient Ministry by Burns, Chapman, and Guthrie, (IVP), is going to be a helpful tool for individuals, staffs, and professional church worker groups. The book is designed to start dialog on the clash between ideals and expectations and through dialog (or personal meditation), health and restoration can take place.
Resilient Ministry begins with the great ideal-uncovering question, "What is 'excellence?'" The authors say that excellence isn't success by the standards (spoken or not) held around you, and it isn't bare faithfulness - a stick it out-ness that hopes for smoother waters. Success, they say, is fruitfulness, which they define as, "[leaders] sharing their faith and nurturing the fruit of God's grace in their own lives and in the lives of others." (p.13)
The natural, next question comes: "How do we do that and do it with vitality and resilience?"
Here, the authors target five areas they label as necessary for leadership resilience in fruitful ministry. They say ministers and leaders need to work on these items first for themselves and then for the people around them:
1.) Spiritual Formation
3.) Emotional and Cultural Intelligence
4.) Marriage and Family
5.) Leadership and Management
The remainder of the book is a well-balanced writing of research, personable examples, and conversation provoking questions that I believe will help individuals and groups process the question of resilience and health in their ministries. This will then, as the book's thesis goes, help ministers be fruitful in the process of growing in grace.
I enjoyed reading and thinking through the questions myself. I also think that this book would fit very well in ministry peer gatherings or for church staffs. The questions alone provide excellent material to clarify ideals, expectations, and the necessities for nurturing fruitfulness....more
The Elements of Style cleans up my writing and helps me focus. I've learned to cut adverbs and adjectives and write in an active voice. There's much mThe Elements of Style cleans up my writing and helps me focus. I've learned to cut adverbs and adjectives and write in an active voice. There's much more this book brings up; those items will form my writing further when I read this book again. ...more
A perfect, concise introduction to the basic Tao. And why would we want a complicated treatise anyway?
I marvel as one who practices the way of JesusA perfect, concise introduction to the basic Tao. And why would we want a complicated treatise anyway?
I marvel as one who practices the way of Jesus how often Taoist thought mirrors the Jesus Way, in particular Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Hoff's writing is simple and entertaining, making this a delightful read, as well as formative.
I'm curious how other Christians would receive this book. Is something like this a threat or is it welcomed? What about the practices, the mindsets within? How could anyone disagree with things like this, things like the absence of anxiety, the reception of all people as they are with the hope of renovation for both parties, the capacity to not strike with vengeance but to near with compassion? It's not Christ who would strike against these things, but something that stole the name of Jesus, masquerading with it, but underneath is really a rage-full member of a capitalist empire, devouring what can be reached. ...more
I opened the cover to learn a few things, some inner workings of poetry from someone who knows what she's talkiA joy to read! What an unexpected joy.
I opened the cover to learn a few things, some inner workings of poetry from someone who knows what she's talking about, I'd heard.
This science book of poetry with its categories and definitions was not a dissection process. It was a guided observation and Oliver was pointing out the details, the unnoticed beauties to me a novice as we watched these poems out in the wild....more
The Rule of Saint Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase by St. Benedict of Nursia (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Initial Question: What wisdom can I, a LutheThe Rule of Saint Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase by St. Benedict of Nursia (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Initial Question: What wisdom can I, a Lutheran teacher, glean from St. Benedict; and, can this wisdom find a home within my context?
Answer & Reaction: Yes.
There's something about Benedict that I keep returning to. It's the rhythm of his Rule, which at times makes no sense in my context, that I find an excellent guide.
The goal of the Christian life, as I see it, is to become increasingly less resistant to the Spirit of God who is at work, conforming us to the image of the Son. Benedict's Rule is something I think can help cultivate that decreased resistance - though some have rightly said that following a Rule of some kind could also deflate attention from obedience to the Gospel and onto a man-made tradition.
So: the Rule has a purpose - the cultivation of the human soul (the summation of the human person). It's a preparatory element, not a goal.
With this all said, there's not much in the Rule that you could say isn't directly from the Gospel narratives. This in itself is what causes the Rule to be a preferential piece to a lot of systematic material which does a lot of conjecturing and pinning down of God, but rarely asks the question, "If Jesus said this then how do we live it out in our community?"
What has become most formative for me from the Rule is a collection of the Rule's elements:
The Elements of Benedict's Rule
Scripture. Stability (Community / Church - sacred people). Obedience (Humility). Conversion of Life. Prayer (sacred time). Hospitality. Sacred Simplicity Work (sacred space)
These alone provide an excellent framework with which to cultivate a life of vulnerability to God's Spirit at work within us in community....more