Lent is not a tightrope, it’s a journey.

Popular assumptions about Lent come from a variety of places. Some arise out of the historical excesses that have surfaced from time to time in the life of the church. Other assumptions about Lent arise out of misunderstandings or a lack of familiarity with Lenten observance.In both cases, Lenten practice looms large, but the purpose of Lenten practice is lost. When that happens, Lent has all the spiritual allure of New Year’s resolutions – only longer and religious. Dint of effort, resolve a … [Read more...]

What do you do after a “mountaintop” experience?

In a Facebook post a week ago, a friend asked, “What happens after a “mountain top” spiritual experience?” The question got me thinking, because most of us are find ourselves in that position from time to time, however we might define that “mountain top.”Understandably, one of his friends simply replied, “Reality,” and I think that we all got a good laugh out of her terse observation. But, of course, that’s precisely the issue. What happens when we come rolling back down hill?Here are som … [Read more...]

Three Ways to Navigate Anniversaries of Loss

 In a world of people that are regularly divided into “the glass is half empty” and “the glass is half full” kinds of people, I tend to be one of those people who is inclined to say, “Look, it’s 4 ounces, no matter how you look at it.”Part of that reaction is professional socialization. Academics are charged with thinking hard about a subject and then producing the evidence for the case that they want to make. (Or that’s the way it is supposed to be, anyway.)And part of that reac … [Read more...]

5 Reasons Spirituality is No Longer Important to the American Church

There are isolated and scattered signs of spiritual vitality in the American Protestantism. There are people and pastors who believe that spiritual practice is indispensible to the life of the church. There are a handful of denominational programs and an occasional bishop who emphasizes the spiritual life. And a handful of seminaries have given one kind of attention or another to the spiritual preparation of their students.But there is also evidence that the emphasis on spiritual practice is … [Read more...]

Spirituality and Leadership in the Shadow of Chaos

It is hard to remember how much idealism was thread through celebrations of the new millennium when you look back on it now. The palpable sense of tension, anxiety, conflict, and – in a word – chaos, seems to be thread through the global psyche.A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that W. B. Yeatts’s poem, “The Second Coming,” has been revisited with ever greater frequency as journalists quote line after line from its apocalyptic vision: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at la … [Read more...]

Don’t tell the unemployed, “It doesn’t make sense.”

"It doesn't make sense."That’s the common refrain from across the table --- the one thing the handful of people who will talk to you will say over and over again when you are unemployed: “It doesn’t make sense.”There are many reasons for that refrain.Some are simply trying to understand.The work that you did, the contribution that you made, the stack of commendations that you received, the article that featured your work, the claims that the company relied on your efforts, the to … [Read more...]

4 Ways Spiritual Direction Could Change the Church

There are times when, as theological educators, we have the rare privilege of not only contributing to a discipline, but we also get a front row seat to historic change.The practice of spiritual direction has entered one of those history-making chapters.Spiritual direction is a structured effort to listen for the voice of God with the assistance of a one-on-one relationship with a spiritual director or companion who provides space for that effort and asks questions that prompt the … [Read more...]

4 Ways the Culture Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

For much of the late 20th Century and all of the early 21st Century, an increasing number of people have described themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”Even if that trend left the church at some disadvantage in speaking to the needs of a growing segment of the population, the development was a welcome one. It was also a wake up call to a church that had allowed an important dimension of its experience to slip to the margins of its life.The church’s failure to do that work, howev … [Read more...]