Fascinating, quick read on how the brain works. Including everything from the effects of sugars to the effects of meditation and prayer, Dow providesFascinating, quick read on how the brain works. Including everything from the effects of sugars to the effects of meditation and prayer, Dow provides an accessible guide to mental health improvement. You'll find several simple steps to put into practice, much of which you'll already know. Reaffirming for me was the call to decrease sugars, increase read, decrease screen time and distraction with social networks, and increase connection in prayer and exercise. See? -- common sense stuff, yet received here as a warm encouragement to grow in health and mindfulness. ...more
Good for thinking about initiation and tradition that might support the idea of being a man today. I was lost in Bly's work with old narrative and metGood for thinking about initiation and tradition that might support the idea of being a man today. I was lost in Bly's work with old narrative and metaphor, finding myself searching.
Good thoughts on the need for traditions marking entry into manhood. ...more
On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Forde, Gerhard O.
This is a wooden read with the occasional concept that strikes your soul. If you keep at it, youOn Being a Theologian of the Cross by Forde, Gerhard O.
This is a wooden read with the occasional concept that strikes your soul. If you keep at it, you’ll find these. Like digging in loose dirt with bare hands, these concepts will cut and you’ll have to stop before keeping on with your reading.
The sharp concepts for me were the necessity of the law and the slash against human capacity, that, as Forde puts is, our best work is our most deprived. The law is weak today and needs to be sharper so that we feel the inner depravity and feel the need for grace. This slashes at our sense of being nice people who can do nice things for God. The more nice we feel, Forde supposes, the worse of we are in faith, for the more nice we feel the less we feel a need for grace. We’re nice, after all.
A theologian of the cross trusts that God comes to us all through the cross. The cross not only reveals the direct truth of who God is and how God works, it reveals the very worst of our very best. For humanity is stuck seeking its own glory, proving its own worth. We want to claim through our actions that we are right, powerful, and free. But this demand for autonomy severs us from Christ. Christ comes with grace to freely embrace us and we demand honor for our work. In reality, all human action leads to the event of the cross. At its very end, human action shouts in every generation, “Crucify him!”
The theologian of the cross, however, sees God as God reveals himself in the cross and resurrection. “The theologian of the cross knows that the love of God creates precisely out of nothing. Therefore, the sinner must be reduced to nothing [by the Law] in order to be saved [by the Gospel]” (Forde, p. 114).
I was very stricken as I read Forde. The despair in human work, even in trying to be obedient to Jesus, suddenly felt like a deadening weight. I wanted to push against Forde and say, “Should I just sit around then and do nothing?” Something within me demanded I take action. Yet I read on. My heart began to feel the consolation of the cross as I neared the latter part of the book. I was beginning to see something I used to know but had forgotten. Years ago I knew the perfect consolation of the cross, that I and all humanity needed to be pure recipients of grace in order to be made alive. But in recent years a lot of my reading on discipleship and some of the company I kept clashed a good deal with the old word of the cross. I was mired in needing to see work and faith together in a single action, mired in seeing myself and others walk by faith through the imitation of Christ, believing that what imitated Christ would be validated by Christ and, in perfect alignment with a theology of glory, trust that an attempt at obedience was all God desired.
My vanity melted and this caused a melancholy spirit for a few days. A friend even said, “I think you need to find a different book to read for a while.” As the old persuasions melted I remembered an image of the desert monastics whose lives and writings I have adored. They are not what I would call excellent theologians of the cross, but on occasion you see the opposite, you see the cross. You see the wisest and oldest of those old desert monastics admit and know in the depths of their being that they are not good and have no good to offer. They are sinners, strugglers, and lost people if not for the grace of God that they wish to receive. The best of their writings sees them in a posture of receptivity, received by God rather than climbing to God through practice or obedience. Its as if some realized that the best work and obedience was only good in so far as it revealed an honest depravity, a not-enough-ness, and a severe lack of purity of heart. The best work became the best sign that hope was not found in good work, but beyond. The desert people in their short sayings rarely mention a direct answer to “the beyond.” I see Christ there. I imagine they do too but didn’t say it directly because they did not want to short circuit the effect of their word.
As for today’s context, the introduction and Forde demanded a stronger edge to the Law. I among many feel myself to be good and have made a life of floating along on good hearted obediences. “God will love me because I’m nice,” is the sentiment. Somehow we need to be confronted with our true deadness and the vainglory we achieve with our nice, “obedient” actions. I don’t think I know how to preach that sharp of a Law yet. My heart is still too mired with humanist optimism. ...more
A clear, precise and accessible read to explore Luther's theology by. I was surprised to see a "for Armchair Theologians" title in my seminary class lA clear, precise and accessible read to explore Luther's theology by. I was surprised to see a "for Armchair Theologians" title in my seminary class list, thinking it would be a light read lacking substance. I was wrong. Paulson's good writing draws out the essence of Luther very well. The concepts came through strong. Paulson wrote the book in a way the paraphrases Luther. You don't get quotes or indented paragraphs containing Luther's exact words all the time (yes, sometimes). So, you're getting things in a secondary way, though he does a good job with conveying the message -- like any good Lutheran pastor would do.
Luther's theology of the cross is the section I'm most struck by. I'll be re-reading those highlights for a while. ...more
Awareness and channeling are the main concepts of this book. By nurturing mindfulness one becomes aware ofThe Art of Communicating by Nhất Hạnh, Thích
Awareness and channeling are the main concepts of this book. By nurturing mindfulness one becomes aware of him or herself. This awareness provides for clearer communication — both in what you say (verbally and non-verbally) and what you hear and see. Slowing to attend is a goal.
Channeling is seeing that what comes in also flows through. Therefore, be mindful of what you are seeing, hearing, and who you are being around. A difficult part of the book was reading that if someone didn’t bring life to you, you should avoid them. This seemed counter to compassion. Compassion draws near to “suffer with.” Though, the point is still received: social negativity does impact the soul. Be mindful of this, expect the negative draw from you, yet still approach others with compassion. Don’t settle for absorbing others into your world so they make you happy. Become life for all. (I don’t recall hearing these phrases in the book; they are my own.)
I read this book on a Buddhist perspective on communication because I have admired a few friends over the years who identify with buddhism and they are good listeners and communicators. ...more
Fascinating. I wonder most about which faith communities would have had this as an authoritative text -- something the drew upon for meaning and divinFascinating. I wonder most about which faith communities would have had this as an authoritative text -- something the drew upon for meaning and divine guidance. Were there groups? Surely.
There was a lot of talk of names of angels, the patterns of the end-of-times, and language of divine judgement against sinners and divine mercy toward the elect (word used). I don't remember reading a moral code or ethic, though things were implied. Was looking for something direct, like the Sermon on the Mount -- out of curiosity: if a community had this as an inspired/inspirational text and they heard many words about judgement, would they have something inside the text that would guide them away from sin? Or, would that have been from another source, perhaps a known way of being that original audiences simply knew.
The edition I found at a library had an odd introduction. The man was labeled as some kind of authority on occult things. I'm not sure why he gravitated to the Book of Enoch other than the fad of non-biblical gospels -- some seem to enjoy the thrill of finding something that sounds authoritative but wasn't grafted into the canonical fold by the "authorities" of the day. I think these extra-biblical books are intriguing, and like I stated above, I find myself wondering which communities would have drawn from this and others.
Big take aways?
1.) The naming of the Angels was interesting. Where did the names come from?
2.) What was the historical catalyst for this book's writing? What was going on in their religious sphere that would have an interest correlating to the content of this book?
3.) The language of sheol and resurrection was intriguing. A definite "waiting-state" for those who've passed, awaiting the resurrection of the body and to live back on earth -- a non-destroyed earth. ...more
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
Know the love of God. Be in this present moment and see that all things belong inEverything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
Know the love of God. Be in this present moment and see that all things belong in this moment — not so much because the things line up to make the perfect destiny for you, but because the details of this moment compose this moment. Receive what is first, then with God walk together.
Enough of grasping. Enough of scratching to get to the top, to be dominant. Be still in this moment, the moment where God also is, and see Life. Be life. Become life for others. ...more
Chittister's book is like a collection of short essays on happiness. It's a simple read; the format makes it accessible. And it gave me plenty to thinChittister's book is like a collection of short essays on happiness. It's a simple read; the format makes it accessible. And it gave me plenty to think about.
The most impactful piece from the book was the happiness is a cultivated way of life. It's not immediate, not the product of instant gratification -- even though these things can spark a little happiness within us. Chittister is talking more about a way of life, an outlook of joy and a way of engaging the world around you. She says happiness is a result of a disciplined outlook, perhaps a choice, an intention.
I didn't make it through the whole book. I felt I got what I was looking for in the first third. I, to the part I got in the book, didn't see Chittister anchor happiness in a source beyond the human self or individual. As in, Happiness is my own making, rather than the result of something beyond myself, like the work of God. Yet, even that would be within one's self... if that makes sense. ...more
Testimony: Talking Ourselves Into Being Christian by Long, Thomas G.
The title says it all: we do in fact talk ourselves into belief. As in, when we speTestimony: Talking Ourselves Into Being Christian by Long, Thomas G.
The title says it all: we do in fact talk ourselves into belief. As in, when we speak what we think we believe, the act of speaking (or writing) reinforces that belief. Educationally, this is the affective domain in action where, through processing out loud, we receive immediate feedback, of which I’m most intrigued by the internal feedback. That is, when I say something out loud, there’s a little piece of me that says, “Yes, that’s well articulated; I like how that came out,” or, “There’s something missing… I don’t think I have it all together.”
Therefore, if it is true that faith is reinforced through processing it beyond ourselves, sharing what we believe in spoken and written words, it is necessary to make space for this to happen. Personal quiet times are good as an initial step, but if this book is true and we never process what we believe out loud, our belief will remain diminished. ...more