Rent-free in my head

Rent

This last semester one of the phrases that lingered from a student’s paper was the phrase, “living rent-free in my head.”It’s a great turn of phrase and underlines the power of unexamined, unchallenged assumptions that can linger, exercising unwelcome control over us….limiting and misshaping our daily existence.What are the ideas that are living rent-free in your head?How do they inhibit your own spiritual freedom?Your relationship with God?Your relationship with those you love?How wo … [Read more...]

Hitting a religious nerve

Atheism

In a recent column written for the Washington Post, I commented on religious displays in public spaces.  As is the case with articles of that kind, the Post went for a title that would match other contributions to the symposium that they were featuring.  Their title for the article was “The Scandal of Atheist Campaigns against Christmas” and, predictably, it attracted a different audience.The change in title was a bit unfortunate, because I’m not sure that there is a campaign against Christm … [Read more...]

Something new for Christmas

tabernacles

One of my students recounted a story that, I’m told, is widely known in Roman Catholic circles.  So the story goes: A little girl was sitting with her mother in church and asked,“Mommy, where is Jesus?”Deeply formed by her faith, the little girl’s mother pointed to the Tabernacle where the reserve sacrament is kept.The little girl was silent for a moment and then declared,“When I grow up I’m going to buy him a bigger box.”This Christmas, consider getting something that cost you nothing, … [Read more...]

Gurus and Gods: On Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction

My students often bring things to my attention that stick.  It’s one of the gifts of reading their papers.   One of the students in our spiritual direction program noted that some clergy are suspicious of spiritual direction.  She quotes one pastor who observes,“I fear that the gift of so-called spiritual director is just another guru-gimmick which sources spirituality in religious opinions, teachings, and practices that are utterly foreign to Holy Scripture, and such a source of spirituality w … [Read more...]

Why is the Incarnation important?

Why is the Incarnation important?I’ve contributed an abbreviated answer to this question as part of a symposium here at Patheos:http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Why-the-Incarnation-Matters?offset=1&max=1Check out the responses and chime in.  Here is the rather longer version of the answer I gave:From the beginning Christians have affirmed that Jesus is both fully God and fully human.Why?If Jesus is just a good guy, then the world has one more hero --- but no … [Read more...]

Always a pilgrim

Wisdom

I had the privilege of addressing the “Gusto!” group at King of Glory Lutheran Church here in Dallas.  As the description of the group might suggest, the class is largely (though not exclusively) made up of folks who have retired.  And the subject that they wanted to explore dealt with God’s will.One of the people who attended admitted that she really wasn’t sure that there was much for someone her age to gain from a conversation of that kind.  But, thankfully, I did a bit of “profiling” and ch … [Read more...]

What do you need to hear?

St.Anthony

My wife and I recently spent a day at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.  In the permanent collection is what may well be Michelangelo's earliest painting, "The Torment of St. Anthony" --- a vivid portrayal of St. Anthony's struggle with temptation in the desert.  It got me thinking...Our inner lives are too small.They are cluttered with the kind of distractions that they sell in tourist traps --- pot metal and plastic, cheap construction, loud colors --- here today, gone tomorrow, about to b … [Read more...]

Therapy and spiritual direction compared

Spdirection

In the certification program that we offer at Perkins one of the questions we explore are the differences between therapy and spiritual direction.  The distinctions are important --- both as a means of defining the boundaries between the two endeavors and as a means of further defining the nature of direction.  If you are a spiritual director, or you are a directee, I invite your thoughts about the following comparisons and your own thoughts on the subject:Therapy is specific in its f … [Read more...]

Losing ourselves

LosingOurselves

Losing ourselves can be a good thing or a bad thing spiritually.Losing ourselves…In the expectations of others in order to find love In the supposed glamour of the lives that others live In a desire for the things that other people own In a self-medicated flight from reality In the past In the futureThese are typically bad for us spiritually.Losing ourselves…In the moment In the needs of others In the presence of God In the pursuit of what Jesus described as the pearl of gre … [Read more...]

Grieving with hope

images-1

The deeper healing of our grief is in God’s hands.All cures are temporary.Healing is eternal in character.Cure is particular, focused on a specific issue.Healing is comprehensive.That is why therapeutic approaches to any of our struggles --- grief included --- lack the power to address some of our needs at the deepest level.  Therapy can teach us to “cope” with our losses or “manage” them (and that’s a good thing), but the losses remain --- and they await a resolution that lies entirely … [Read more...]


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