Thin Places, Wide Open Vistas, and the Afterlife: Reflections on ‘The Hand on the Mirror’

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The Celts of Scotland and Ireland speak of certain patches of land as “thin places” where heaven and earth, the divine and human, eternity and time, touch one another. Thin places remind us that we are always on holy ground and that God’s Spirit moves temporally and geographically through our lives and the world. Janis [Read More...]

Everyone Belongs to God: A Response to Christoph Blumhardt

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A Response to Everyone Belong to God, by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (Plough Publishing House, 2015) One of my preaching mentors Ernie Campbell once said that “there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are in God’s hands and know it and those who are in God’s hands and don’t.” Christoph Friedrich [Read More...]

Mary as One of Us: A Conversation with Denise Bossert’s Gifts of the Visitation: Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and Elizabeth.

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In her new book, Gifts of the Visitation, Denise Bossert chronicles her adventures in discovering the role of Mary as a spiritual guide and model for her own spiritual formation. Her journey takes her from evangelical Protestantism to an orthodox understanding of Roman Catholicism. Along the way, she encounters Mary as a unique spiritual figure, divinely [Read More...]

The Grace of Interdependence: A Response to Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s ‘Vulnerable Faith’

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As a child growing up in the Salinas Valley in California, I grew up singing that grand evangelical hymn “Just as I Am,” popularized by the Billy Graham Crusades. Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s Vulnerable Faith brought me back to the revival meetings and evangelical theology of our small town Baptist church. While I no longer hold the [Read More...]

Contrast, Stature, and Having a Fat Soul: Reflections on Joan Chittister’s Between the Dark and the Daylight

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Joan Chittister’s Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life is a hymn to spiritual stature. In a world that excludes and polarizes otherness, including the otherness in ourselves, Chittister argues that wholeness involves embracing the contradictions of life. A good life involves consciously embracing the totality of our experience, even the [Read More...]

Refreshing the Pastor’s Soul: In Conversation with Michael Voss’s Reviving the Congregation

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Leadership is a spiritual issue, especially in congregational life. As Michael Voss notes in his Reviving the Congregation, pastoral leadership involves not only a pastor’s skills but also her or his personal well-being and spiritual life. Pastoral excellence is skill centered and we should always aim at excellence, as Voss notes. But, this excellence ultimately [Read More...]

Faith and Failure: Reflections on J.R. Briggs new book “Fail”

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Book Review:  Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure, by J.R. Briggs The phrase “too big to fail” emerged during the banking crisis of 2008. Banks were bailed out, despite the fact that their own greed led to the economic collapse that threatened the livelihood of millions of Americans, depleted retirement accounts, [Read More...]


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