Posts in Grace
Until the Doors of God Are Thrown Open

How shocked many modern day church-goers would be to discover that their deific notions of God have more to do with ancient pagan philosophy than Biblical Christianity. The institutional church of the first centuries (primarily in conjunction with Emperor Constantine) tried to pour the infinite fluidity of the Trinitarian God into the stoic stone container of the Greek’s god in the sky. And as time has passed, to most card-carrying Christians, the container is all they now remember.

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The Prayer Which Has Made All the Difference

As I have learned in so many ways through this last decade of my life, the only “you” you get is the one you’ve got.  The one sitting here reading this.  With all of her regrets, goals and demands for being better sooner. The Now You is the only you.  The Past You was not as you remember it (you’ve written a story about that person which justifies your present reality) and The Future you as imagined will never exist, because you have written only a handful of potential options into your imagined narrative… when there are literally an infinite number of quantum possibilities.

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The Beginning of Kindness

As I sit at my desk after a long weekend of writing, editing, designing and reflecting, I am most palpably aware of how insufficient it all often feels.  Particularly in these days.  Regardless of one’s political persuasions it would be an abdication of reality to ignore the escalation of fear and the ease of offense which permeates our existence. 

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Creating a Terrible God

As I engage with people over the years, I find that there is little about God which draws out more confusion and emotional milieu than the concept of God as Father.  For most people, this is in part because they start with “Father” as they’ve known it and then apply this frame to God. Of course, like any title which we start with our own definitions of and then expect God to fit the confines of our expectations, the frame bursts with failed containment early and explosively. This failure of God to meet our expectations, unfortunately, rarely leads us to reconsider the expectations we’ve levered against Him. Instead we blame the Monet for not fitting within an ill-measured frame. 

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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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Landmarks of a Transforming Life

The Self-Help section is one of the largest at Barnes and Noble, and without a doubt high on the profitability scale.  The idea of an accessible and simple formula for lifetime success has now even seeped into the biography section.  There was a time when one read biographies to view from the long end of history how a life had been formed by experience, choice and belief.  Not today.  Today, the majority of “biographies” more accurately stand as mid-life memoirs (some earlier than that) and they don’t intent to map out the story of life so far, but instead to manipulate the events of an unfinished life into the few short platitudes which can create tips for a ravenous public. 

Our new ways of defining human thriving have so denigrated our ability to stand in our own skin and to relate to each other with love and respect that anyone with an objective view would jettison these views in an instant.  But without a meaningful alternative, an attainable counter-narrative to the way to life, the deep and addictive rut of the status-quo will continue to hold us in its sway. Thankfully this counter-narrative is not far off.  There are signs for optimism.

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Windswept Faces

Most believers I talk to wrestle with deep, unmentionable questions about their faith.  They have silently and shamefully accepted massive contradictions about the culturally assumed gospel in the hopes that no one will notice, particularly themselves.  They, with much effort, put on a brave face, attend their church of choice, read their devotional material of preference and soldier on, in the hopes that the so-called mysteries with which they struggle will be resolved on eternity’s white shores. 

This is a great tragedy.

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Every Life Speaks.

It is tempting to enter the drama of what is stake in the world slowly.  To ease you, my dear reader, into it, like a 18-month-old child into the zero-entry end of the pool.  To one vantage point this seems the kind thing to do, until you realize that this easing our way into things is exactly how the frog got himself boiled. The heat of the world turns itself upon on slowly, barely noticeable to our drifting selves, until we are inundated with the heat and friction of lives gone wrong with seemingly little do about it, and the saving ledge of that boiling pot is so far away.

For this reason, we must, as with anything that matters, jump into the deep end of the pool.  We must be caught up in a twister, walk through the wardrobe, fall down the rabbit hole, take the red pill. 

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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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