Posts in Culture
What Makes a Life? (Infographic)

The clearest instruction for
human thriving across both testaments of Scripture is this: to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  And while these imperatives have been recited ad nauseum for the marketing of various endeavors, we are left with very real questions: What is a self? Why is it framable as heart, mind, SOUL, and body (strength)? What’s love got to do with it? And why was this both Moses and Jesus’ clear path to thriving human culture? 

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Man's Great Dream of Himself.

Resurrection Day. A Day when we are reminded of how far the ego in us will go to destroy the life we are made for.  A day when our roles as both crucifiers and crucified is liberated in the vacant womb of an empty burial grave.  A day when we are to recognize the liberation from a lost life and awakened to a new, unformed and perhaps even unwelcome life.  

Resurrection Day. Old and tired identities die. New, unformed and humble ones emerge in their wake. Because He Lives.

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Attending to Expectations

IMAGE is central to the personal mark we leave in the world. How we understand it and what we do about it are the beginning of a journey into the heart and back out again.  As we've said all year (all three weeks of it so far...) 2017 is all about a journey into the heart and back out again.  Getting into the heart is the hard part, we've got so much defense and protection and persona built up to hide behind.  There's just so much IMAGE.  But what happens when our attempts to manage our image and other people's response to it is brought into the light? 

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Creation Story: The Original Declaration of Independence

Imagine, if you will, a people in exile.  Impoverished, straggling across a foreign desert, attuned to little except the hope of a better future and the whisperings of a sometimes inscrutable deity.  This wandering people live an existence so far from our own that it’s almost alien.  While we clamor for ever expansive rights and privileges, they wrestled for nothing more than the strands of subsistence. Their dream was to stay alive.  It began as an escape from slavery and tyranny, a revolution not won on the battlefield, but acquired in the quiet enclave of hiding.  Eating fast-made and easy-carry food, waiting for the smell of death to clear the night air.  This is Israel at its institutional origin. 

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No, Seriously, Love Your Enemies

Extensive writing has been done as to which side of this election people of faith should stand on.  There are blogrolls the size of the Great Library at Alexandria on what “true” pro-life means, and even more so on the relative merits or lack-thereof of various political candidates, candidates’ spouses and candidates’ confidants’ sexual exploits.  You can easily find strongly worded essays, tweets and podcasts on the role of the Supreme Court in religious liberty, justice for refugees through the actions of the State and the important role that misogyny and latent racism has played in this election and every other in human memory.  I am happy to say that I have nothing to add to all of this. Nothing.

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The Sacred and the Profane

In my normal day life, I do an unconventional mix of marketing management, corporate training, project development, vendor relations and unofficial spiritual direction, all under the heading of Chief Operating Officer.  I rarely use THIRTYSIXWORDS to talk about my professional life, not because they aren’t interrelated, but because I struggle in the same war as so many of you: the fight to compartmentalize and put things in boxes. It is my instinct, like yours, to separate life into (seemingly) controllable frames. And from those frames keep my mashed potatoes from getting gussied up by my peas and carrots. I seek to divide good and evil and in controlling the categories of the sacred and the profane I, like you, seem to keep the edges from getting too loose. And isn’t control what it’s all about after all?

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The Problem with the Bible

In all my years among the Bible-believers, one thing has become increasingly true: we have a problem with the Bible. It is not the problem that the thumpers would have you believe that we just need to read it more and then obey what we read.  I had the lead in a Sunday morning musical entitled “The Bible Tells Me So Show,” (a riff on Jeopardy!) as a child.  I know a lot about reading the text and doing what it says.  And in all my experience, this admonition has does us little good in the work of real transformation.  In fact, the evidence shows that the trend in such trite admonitions is that it has proven to harden the hearts of the convinced and the not-so, deepen the divide between the insiders and the outsiders, and build up a pantheon of exegetical celebrities whose fame is purely based on their ability to guilt us into more “Biblical” action. 

No, read-it-more/do-what-it-says is not our problem. 

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Did Jesus Come to Forgive Sins?

A Look at Atonement through the Words of Mark

I have been spending the last 4 months with a committed group of 12-15 folks who are working through the Gospel of Mark as a committed spiritual practice intended to open us up to the transformational work of Jesus.  This effort has been rich and multi-dimensional and reminiscent of similar journeys I have taken through this exact text with other groups in the past.  At certain points in the journey I will take a moment and consider the implications of Jesus' actions and Mark's explanation of them.

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