Letters to a Future Church: Take Risks, Be Honest, Stop Equivocating

(Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals, edited by Chris Lewis, InterVarsity Press, 176 pages.) This book collects letters from 25 Christian leaders in response to the question, "If you had one thing to say to the church, what would it be?" Respondents include Kester Brewin, Walter Brueggemann, Peter Rollins, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Ron Sider, Rachel Held Evans, and Shane Claiborne — as well as previously published "bonus letters" from Will Willimon, Gardner … [Read more...]

Preaching “The Book of J”: Are There Hidden Books in the Bible?

 In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground — 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And … [Read more...]

Individuation, The Beatles, and the Journey to Wholeness

Note: This post is part of our Lenten study of Joyce Rockwood Hudson's book Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity. Links to the previous installments in this series on “Jungian Spirituality” will be included at the end of each post in this series. In the evangelical Christianity of my childhood, the major turning point in someone’s spiritual journey was “accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.” Once you believed that “Jesus died on the cross for y … [Read more...]

Jungian Spirituality: A Sermon Series Retrospective

For Lent, I preached a five-part series on Jungian Spirituality, based on Joyce Rockwood Hudson's book Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity. The following is a brief description of each of the sermons in this series:Confronting the Unconscious: From Supernatural to Natural Spirituality We should be extraordinarily careful about attributing causation to God and meaning to events. And I am, by no means, promoting a variation of the harmful canard that “ … [Read more...]

“Practice Resurrection”: Progressive Christian Theology for Easter

As Easter approaches, I invite you to consider that we should worry less about what people say they believe happened one Sunday morning 2,000 years ago and more about we are living as if resurrection still happens. Along these lines, Clarence Jordan, one of my heroes and a twentieth-century Christian saint, said, The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of his transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave, but a … [Read more...]

Praying with Flannery O’Connor

UPS just delivered my copy of the new Flannery O'Connor prayer book, published by Paraclete Press. I'm looking forward to spending the next week praying through it. There are morning and evening liturgies for each day.The choice to include only morning and evening prayer comes from a letter O'Connor wrote about her personal spiritual practice that was collected in The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor: "I say Prime in the morning and sometimes I say Compline at night" (159-160). … [Read more...]

A Guide to Firsthand Experience with God

(David Benner, Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation, Brazos Press, 2012, 240 pages) I had not heard of David Benner prior to being invited to review his latest book, which is my loss. It turns out he is a well-respected author and editor of more than twenty books at the intersection of psychology and spirituality. And his new book comes with recommendations from Margaret Guenther and Tilden Edwards, two writers on Christians spirituality I have long … [Read more...]

Synchronicity, Coincidence, and “Jeff, Who Lives at Home”: Jungian Spirituality for Lent

Note: This post is part of our Lenten study of Joyce Rockwood Hudson's book Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity. Links to the previous installments in this series on “Jungian Spirituality” will be included at the end of each post.  18 Moses said to God, "Show me your glory, I pray." 19 And God said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘I Am'”.... 20 But, God said, “You cannot see my face; for no one shall … [Read more...]

Jesus’ Subversive Donkey Ride (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Palm Sunday)

In Mark’s fast-paced style, we see three different days of Holy Week in chapter 11 alone. The first eleven verses are what we celebrate as Palm Sunday. But in verse 12, we see a clue (the words, “On the following day”), which indicate that the events regarding the fig tree and the aggression against the Temple happened the next day. Monday continues through Mark 11:19, where we read that, “when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.” And in verse 20, Mark lets us know that Tu … [Read more...]

Ron Sider: An Evangelical Christian Worth Listening To

(Ronald J. Sider, Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget, InterVarsity Press, 2012, 171 pages.) The title of this post could be seen as flippant, callous, arrogant, or all of the above -- implying that an "Evangelical Christian Worth Listening To" is such a rarity as to be worthy of remark. Well, in an age in which many conservatives exclusively watch Fox News (read: "Faux News"?) and read The Wall Street Journal, whereas many liberals watch MSNBC and read The New York T … [Read more...]