The Igniting God: Life in the Spirit

Some of the stories from the Desert Fathers and Mothers are just too weird to mean much to me. Or they’re too hard. Or they’re just too hot and windy and covered in sand. But sometimes – and timing is everything in the spiritual life – one hits me hard. And this is the one I’m thinking of lately: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said, “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and, as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What els … [Read More...]

John William Waterhouse, 1914

The Overshadowing God: Life in the Spirit

 To be filled, we must become empty.People talk about a “spiritual vacuum” in their lives, about a hungriness or a longing, and this is the starting place. We who pray Veni, Sanctu Spiritus cannot expect the Spiritus to Veni if we’re already quite pleasantly filled, thank you very much. The Spirit is not interested in being the frosting on our cake. We begin by accepting the barrenness of our lives; we begin, as Jesus reminds us, by knowing that apart from him we can do nothi … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: Beginning the Conversation

Somewhere in my past, I read a novel about a young boy in India. This child was the son of English parents (set during the British Raj) whose social life was such that a full-time babysitter was in order. In India, this servant was called an ayah. She was a combination of governess, nanny, … [Read More...]

Take a Spiritual Holiday

This week, I had an unusual conversation with an old friend. We had met over coffee to talk about some concerns he had over something he had read, about the writer’s theological direction, and about how that would affect his community. None of this is the unusual part – I have conversations like thi … [Read More...]

Loving Bartholomew, the Nobody

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on historical acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number of who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in … [Read More...]

Examining the Call of Women to Christian Leadership

If we accept N.T. Wright’s description of the gospel in Simply Good News—as good news about something that has happened and something that’s going to happen which changes the in-between time we’re living in—then we have to accept a break in the continuum of ways things have always been done. Somethin … [Read More...]

To Be Patient Is to Be Free

For many who have come from a middle-class American Evangelical background with solid, godly roots, there is a certain rightness to life that cannot be denied. This rightness includes a mélange of middle-class American values and Evangelical values, and it’s pretty hard to slice them down the mi … [Read More...]

As the 2016 Election Cycle Begins, an Anti-Sneering Pledge

As the 2016 election season launches in earnest, I’m still quivering a bit from the vitriol and animus of the 2012 Obama-Romney run. I’m still remembering that video of the little four-year-old sobbing because she was so very tired of Womney and Bronco Bamma.I’m dreading the television ads, the r … [Read More...]

Jesus Loves Us Down to Our Toes: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

In the Gospel of John, the focus on the Passover meal as described in the other gospels—including the dipping of bread and sharing of the cup—is replaced with a tender, yet stunningly disturbing, moment. Jesus stoops to a most humiliating task: washing the disciples’ feet (John 13.1-15).Now we ha … [Read More...]

How to Be a (Better) Protestant in Five Easy Steps

Reformation Day doesn’t make me giddy, but it does afford me the opportunity to think again about this business of being Protestant. “I yam what I yam,” Popeye said. And so it is with me. By the grace of God.Most non-Catholic, non-Orthodox Christians really don’t identify as Protestants. They’re … [Read More...]

The Lovely, Lovely Thing (Friends of God 6)

 Some of our Friends of God shine like the sun, and their names are known even to an unbelieving world: Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, Johannes Tauler, Jan Ruysbroeck. Some lie in forgotten corners of history like so many fallen autumn leaves blown into the shadows. Often, but not always, … [Read More...]

The Green Isle Community (Friends of God 5)

The Friends of God were committed to community. While their associations with each other were indeed informal and unregulated, they recognized the value of mutual support and encouragement in their God-friendships. The Green Isle Community is one example of this.Today, Strasbourg in eastern … [Read More...]

Honesty or Heroism? (Friends of God 4)

When we think of the Middle Ages, and we try to imagine the ordeals people faced, it’s our modern tendency to look for heroes. We love heroes. Who in the 14th century was doing something about all that mess? That deep-seated desire to set things right—by the sword, mainly—must, in part, be behind mov … [Read More...]

The Atmosphere of God (Friends of God 3)

Imagine running a large organization—a multinational organization—with thousands of employees, complicated networks of incomes and expenses, vast assets requiring ongoing upkeep and capital improvements, and a clientele that consists of nearly every single person in every country within your org … [Read More...]