The following is an allegorical telling of my life’s developing relationship with Scripture. Enjoy. When I was a boy, my friends were more a matter of proximity than affinity. When you’re just starting to grow, other kids are more decoration than companion, but they can be comforting. One day I accompanied my mom to a […]
Read More A Voice with Many Faces
When I think of the title of my blog—An Old Song with a New Dance—and what was happening in my life when I chose it, I think of forming a new way of life out of the patchwork of history and culture that has had an influence on who I am and what I care about. I think about Medieval monks and about living in a big house with another family leading to a painful schism. I think about the longing for connection with other people and with God that led to trying something new. I think about the dark night of the soul that followed the dissolution of that community. I think about learning from a new community what serving and community and faithfulness and love look like.
Read More Re-Write
A few years ago, in what seemed a different life, I had an experience that deeply impacted me and shaped much of how I viewed myself in relation to the people I encounter. The catalyst at the time was viewing the movie Silver Linings Playbook.
Read More Forgotten Margins, Revisited
What does it do to a person to be told that the suffering they experience isn’t real because it isn’t as bad as all these other groups? What does it do to label a person as evil because he has other concerns than the ones we hold dear? What does it do to stifle a person’s needs because we think their resentment is misplaced?
I think it creates Trump supporters.
I think we, the champions of the downtrodden, are in part responsible for people turning to the only person who told them their concerns mattered, that their problems were worth talking about, that they weren’t the bad guys.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Trump himself is a cancer spreading through this country, spouting hate and spreading blame by feeding people’s misguided ideas about who causes the problems we face as a nation. The problem is that he sprinkles in some truth with his lies.
And—this is important—the people who voted for Donald Trump… are not Donald Trump.
They are the marginalized majority.
Read More A Time to Break Down and a Time to Build Up
So far, I have learned that doing the steps of centering prayer is simple. Learning to enter into prayerful meditation requires a lot of practice, but I am happy to realize that mindfulness meditation is very similar mentally and is good preparation. The significant difference is the foundational goals and internal posture. Mindfulness meditation is about personal and interpersonal health. Centering prayer is about orienting your will toward Christ so that your spirit, mind, and emotions, given by God, can be renewed and uninhibited in its quest for relationship with God. I plan to refocus my meditation practice on this when my MBSR course is completed.
One of the more interesting side effects of developing a meditation practice and contemplative prayer discipline is the lines of thought I have been inspired to follow. One has been a breakthrough in my understanding of biblical wisdom literature. I have understood for many years that wisdom literature is not intended to be read as commands, and it is meant to stimulate the thoughts of the reader. However, it is only now that I have realized that Proverbs is not intended to be practical advice either. It is meant to be prompts for meditation.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 04: Discovery
We were not made to be mindless. We were not made to be loveless. We were not made for violence or fear. Perfect love casts out fear, and we were made to immerse our wills, our hearts, our minds, and our souls in the vastness of divine love. We were made to let that love renew us and change us and lead us to think about love, feel love, and live love in tangible ways.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 03: How God Changes Your Brain
When I experienced my crisis moment and the decisions of the weekend that followed, which I described in my last post, I was brought to a pivotal moment that didn’t happen in a vacuum. The idea of mindfulness wasn’t just a divine revelation that weekend. I had been being prepared for months.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 02: No Time Like the Present
I experienced something akin to an emotional breaking point. Like all good crises, it seems to have forced the issue of change on me. Change is hard for me. I know it’s supposed to be hard for everyone, but still, it feels really hard for me.
I’ll tell you more about the crisis in a minute. It wasn’t an emergency, just more of an intolerable experience. It happened at the right time though, and for that, I am super grateful.
The results are the really important part. The intolerable experience that twisted my arm toward change pushed me to pursue nothing less than life transformation. I have started down a path with a dream. I dream of becoming a pioneer in my own soul, mind, and spirit. The point is to become healthy. I dream of finding mental, emotional, relational, spiritual, and even physical health in the frontier of my inner world.
I’m gathering my tools and equipment. I’m training. I’m gathering resources and making plans. All of this is for readiness to learn to be mindful, to pray, and to meditate.
Those are the means to my end. This is new territory for me, and I plan to document my journey. It may serve as both inspiration and map for those who come after me. Or it may only be a nostalgic record of that thing I tried one time. Either way, I believe it’s worth doing.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 01: An Intolerable Experience
My faith is the most important aspect of who I am. For it to be real, it must influence every other part of my life, including how I think of politics and how I vote. I can’t claim to believe Jesus called us to care for the poor, for example, and then not vote or support politicians who would enact policies that would care for the poor. It would be hypocritical and faithless. It does not negate my responsibility to care for them more directly. Neither negates the other. Serving at a soup kitchen or giving money or donating or even inviting a homeless family to eat in my home would not release me of my responsibility to vote in a way that would effect help for not just the few I meet but all people nationwide.
Read More An Evangelical Feeling the Bern
Now that we have been living in the Lents neighborhood for over a month, and without housemates for over three months, I feel like I am beginning to understand more clearly just what came from trying to live in our intentional community. Chrissy and I still believe we were called to join with the people […]
Read More Training in Failure