The Place of Joy in Christian Spirituality

What is the relationship between prayer and joy? If we enjoy our prayer, does that mean we are avoiding the hard work of spirituality (which, at least in Christian terms, is meant to make us holy, not to entertain us)?I had an interesting little exchange on Facebook the other day, when a reader, who is a priest of the Church of England, took exception to the headline of my post from last year, called Five Ways You Can Enjoy a Deeper Personal Prayer Life.Reacting simply to that post's … [Read more...]

Faith, Doubt and Perseverance

A couple of years ago, Bart Ehrman's book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee caused a bit of a ruckus among conservative Christians. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who admits to being a post-Christian agnostic, has been controversial in many corners of the church for some time now; indeed, five evangelical scholars published a book critiquing How Jesus Became God with the appropriate if unimaginative title How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Je … [Read more...]

The Fear of the Lord and the Love of God

As a young man growing up in the American south, I heard the phrase "God fearing" a lot. As in, "He's a God fearing man."I think it comes from Psalm 111:10: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," or its near corollary, Proverbs 1:7: "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."So someone who is "God fearing" is someone, presumably, with wisdom or knowledge: who knows better than to sin, or for that matter to do anything that would offend the Almighty.It's not really … [Read more...]

Seven Ways the Mystics Inspire Us Today

One of my favorite quotations comes from Karl Rahner: "The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist."It's a prophetic statement, from a man who died in 1984. When paired with the demographic realities of the last 30 years (Americans who identify as Christian comprised 85% of the population in 1985, but only 70% of the population today, while the so-called "nones" — people without religious affiliation — grew from 8% in '85 to 16% today), it's fair to say that Rahner's "fut … [Read more...]

Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

A reader of my blog wrote the following message to me: I have been meditating for about a year now. I have been working with a meditation teacher who has been helpful, but, even though we are of the same Christian faith, he leans too far into the Yogi tradition for my comfort level. My experience with Centering Prayer has been very positive and what I have read and heard about the Christian Contemplative Path resonates with me. To really deepen my practice, do I need a spiritual teacher? If so, … [Read more...]

Completing the Hospice Journey

Back in May, I wrote a post about my daughter's decision to enter in-home hospice care. Rhiannon struggled with health issues, related to polycistic kidney disease, her entire life, and spent 26 of her 29 years in a wheelchair. I first blogged about her challenges back in 2010. Today's post is the inevitable conclusion to her story. Rhiannon passed away on August 30. Here's a link to her obituary. Maybe the easiest way to write this post is to begin with the message we sent out to the 175 fa … [Read more...]