I begin with the best of intentions, but rabbit holes multiply like bunnies, and are nigh on irresistible. I’m teaching a course this fall on Evangelical spirituality, and so it started with Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality and some online research around his ideas on propositional truth. But then I got waylaid by one of those click bait articles (yes, we’re all targets) on Lady Gaga’s sartorial evolution (the raw meat gown is a never-ending what? really?), where it mentioned in… Read more

We have recently done something I really couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. We did something we’ve never done before. We did something we ought to have done, with great frequency, over the last 26+ years. And in doing this, we initiated a virtual archaeological dig, an extreme makeover, and a wrenching awakening to a new stage of life. A midlife crisis, perhaps? A reckless adventure in imagining a different future? Such drama. With an introduction like that,… Read more

Janene looked at me with now uncharacteristic clarity in those big blue eyes and said… “The Lord Jesus is taking care of me and my brain, and it makes all the difference.” Janene is gone from us, deep in the darkness of dementia. Two years ago, though, she brought out this remarkable observation from that darkness: The Lord Jesus is taking care of me and my brain, and it makes all the difference.  So while we watch and pray, Janene and Jesus… Read more

Maybe two of you who are reading this have opened it because of the title, and one of you is looking for affirmation of deeply held convictions and the other of you is outraged and ready to rumble. Let’s begin by defining some terms and then we’ll see if either of you feels better. “Prosperity Gospel” is the term used mainly by its critics to describe the belief systems of those who teach that God wants most of all that… Read more

The English soul, according to Thornton, is Benedictine. Not Jesuit or Franciscan or Carmelite or Carthusian or even Cistercian. Benedictine. It goes with the homeliness of English spirituality, for Benedict’s charism was the way he created a home for the brothers, a place where they could work out their salvation, serve one another and the world, and grow in prayer and love. It has structure, but it isn’t crafted as rigorously as an Ignatian approach; it is rich in mysticism,… Read more

I used to think church history was my grandma and her Scofield Bible. I used to think authentic Christian faith leaped from the moment of the last apostle’s death (John on the Isle of Patmos?) to around the time of Billy Graham. (What was happening in all the intervening years? Hmmm, maybe Christian faith went underground, secretly being passed from one small “real” Christian group to another, with occasional grand flare-ups of faith like the Reformation. Everyone else was were… Read more

  In his exploration of English spirituality, Thornton is not shy about applauding the tradition. He really does say that “sometimes [our Lord] is very English.” (37) (It does make me gurgle just a bit, thinking of a 19th-century Jesus with, oh, say a monocle and a pipe and an Eton collar. Or maybe, since he was working class, a bowler hat, a worn frockcoat, and fingerless gloves.) Thornton’s appreciation for the English tradition is an honest one. He recognizes… Read more

    Writing this on Easter Tuesday, it’s easy to see in the rearview mirror the efforts we made, wished we had made, tried to make, thought about making, or heard others made during the Lenten season just behind us. And now, whew!, all that struggle (or the guilt we may feel that there was no struggle) can be forgotten as we move into the joys of Easter, a season of victory and elation rather than sweat and tears. Of… Read more

“Now Lazarus was sick.” I doubt there is a one of us who has not experienced the sickness, even to death, of one we love. There’s a unique agony that goes with watching someone you love suffer and know that he or she is slipping from your grasp. That agony was Martha’s and Mary’s. And, of course, it was Jesus’ agony, too. We like to think that, knowing what he had in mind, knowing he could speak a word and… Read more

In exploring asceticism, or spiritual theology, for 21st-century Christians, I’ve been using Martin Thornton’s English Spirituality, a journey through the common Christian elements of the English tradition and the distinctive components that make it unique. Thornton points out three ways English spirituality shares space with other Christian spiritualities: “It is elementary.” By this, Thornton means us to understand that Christian spirituality deals with the ordinary, the rhythms and practices of life that Christians take up everywhere in their response to… Read more




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