“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” What books are you reading? Need some ideas? Check out The Discerning Reader or Englewood Review of Books.
Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” – C.S. Lewis
Here’s a video from Dan Kimball of Vintage Faith Church called ‘We Dream of a Church.’ Well worth a look. It may just inspire you!
And this may not:
“Contemplation,” or meditation as it is called by some, became more popular in contemporary times through the writings of Thomas Merton. The word most Christians were more familiar with was simply “prayer.”
Unfortunately, in the West prayer became something functional; something you did to achieve a desired effect—which puts you back in charge. As soon as you make prayer a way to get something, you’re not moving into a new state of consciousness. It’s the same old consciousness. “How can I get God to do what I want God to do?” It’s the egocentric self still deciding what it needs, but now often trying to manipulate God too.
This is one reason religion is in such desperate straits today. It really isn’t transforming people, but leaving them in their separated and egocentric state. It pulls God inside of my agenda instead of letting God pull me inside of his. This is still the small old self at work. What the Gospel is talking about is the emergence of “a whole new creation” and a “new mind,” as Paul variously calls it. – Richard Rohr
* * *
A ‘Magic’ Faith vs a Biblical Faith
A person engages in “magic” insofar as they believe there are special behaviors that empower them to gain favor with, or to otherwise influence, the spiritual realm to work to their advantage. Depending on the culture or religious system, the “spiritual realm” a magical practitioner seeks to influence may be anything from an impersonal force (e.g. the “Tao”), to particular angels, to the God who created and sustains all things. Also depending on the culture or religious system, the relevant magical behaviors the practitioner engages in may be chants, spells, sacrifices or other sorts of rituals. Or the practitioner may simply court the favor of God or angels to gain their favor by obediently embracing revealed truths or by obediently engaging in specific acts that align the practitioner with the will of God or angels.
Among the many differences between “magic” and biblical faith is the fact that magic is about engaging in behaviors that ultimately benefit the practitioner while biblical faith is about cultivating a relationship with God that is built on mutual trust. And while the God-human relationship, like all trusting human-to-human relationships, benefits both God and the person of faith, it is not entered into as a means to some other end. While magical faith is utilitarian, biblical faith is simply faithful. (Read the full post at ReKnew here.)
* * *
The ‘God’ Drug
A University of Washington study posits that worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry – a spiritual “high” that keeps congregants coming back for more.
“We see this experience of unalloyed joy over and over again in megachurches. That’s why we say it’s like a drug,” said James Wellman, an associate professor of American religion who co-authored the study.
The study, “‘God is like a drug’: Explaining Interaction Ritual Chains in American Megachurches” was presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver.
,,,“The upbeat modern music, cameras that scan the audience and project smiling, dancing, singing, or crying worshippers on large screens, and an extremely charismatic leader whose sermons touch individuals on an emotional level … serve to create these strong positive emotional experiences,” [Kate] Corcoran [co-author of the study] said.
The pastor functions as an “energy star” who engages the congregation through an accessible, informal and emotional sermon. Rather than being analytical or theological, the message “just feels right” or “just makes sense” for congregants, Wellman said. (Read more on this study on the God’s Politics blog here.) Source: http://t.co/GQfNjbc2
* * *
Jon Acuff (Stuff Christians Like book and blog) writes about a most welcoming Welcome given in a church and muses, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if every Church extended this kind of welcome every week?’
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.
We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.
If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!
* * *
Room for Doubt
We opened the windows
of the sanctuary on Sunday
and a gentle questioning
breeze blew through,
changing the atmosphere
in the room.
The dust of accumulated ideas
and layered tradition that
laid undisturbed on the
windowsill of our collective
consciousness was carried
on currents of fresh air.
These are the
were lifted on
the Breath’s inviting
“Who has doubts about
Jesus’ virgin birth?”
About half the
with hands halfway raised.
“Who, without doubt,
believes the virgin birth?”
The other half raised their
hands swiftly and confidently
as if to salute a
When in the Sabbath Pause
the dust settles like snow in
a snow-globe it shall be seen clearly
that we are all rooted and grounded
in the love of the One in whom we
live and move and have being.
And we, doubters and believers
alike, shall once
again say what we
believe: “. . . born of
the virgin Mary. . .”
Only this time as if
for the first time.