Posts Tagged ‘ spiritual formation ’

My Bad Beliefs

When I was an undergrad at UC San Diego, I was also a full-time employee of the university. I had an extremely low stress, low responsibility swing-shift job, which gave me freedom to go to class during the day and a lot of time to get my reading and writing done at work. Faithful, young, fired-up evangelical that I was, I also used the quiet night-time hours at work for spiritual self-care. I did my Bible reading and prayer nightly, as well as books and books worth of journaling. I kept up this rhythm up long enough that every year, around my birthday, I’d go back to the previous years’ journal entries on that day. I remember these times of review as moments of red-faced embarrassment, because I would inevitably think, “Man, I can’t believe I wrote and thought and believed that stuff. I’ve come a long way since then. […]



Answering Questions with Better Questions

As I prepare myself for starting work on a PhD, I do so with a range of emotions. Some days I have the confidence of lion, knowing that I’m up for the intellectual challenge, the persistence through frustration, and the occasional need to outlast boredom with the research process. Some days I very seriously question whether I have anything of value to offer the academic world, and wonder if I’m about to embark upon the grandest form of missing the point I’ve ever been a part of. Some days I simply get a little nervous about my ability to answer questions. For me, questions are a big deal. Perhaps the biggest deal of them all. After living more than half of my adult life with the distinct impression that it was my job to find and discover the “right” answers to all of life’s important questions, I stumbled my way […]



Reading: A Habit I’ve Returned To

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes updating my Books page. Over the past few weeks, I seem to have gotten my reading mojo back, after a pretty long hiatus. After a few years of reading like mad for school, I was forced to basically stop reading in order to focus on writing my doctoral dissertation, which took most of my time between August 2008 and March 2009. Once I crossed that finish line, I went almost completely dormant in the literary sense. I’m not sure if it was burnout, but I apparently felt the need for a break. I read very little in what remained of 2009. Even while flying all over the world, spending a ridiculous amount of time on airplanes, I only managed to read one book on my smart phone’s Kindle app. But as quickly as my book lust went away, it seems to have returned. This […]



It's Sunday, so I guess I won't be (fill in the blank)

According to a research study published in an online article in New Scientist, conservatives would appear to be hypocrites when it comes to practicing what they preach (HT: boingboing).  <pause to allow readers to overcome their shock>  The study has to do with online pornography consumption, and finds that states that are the biggest consumers tend to be more conservative and more religious.  8 of the 10 states that consumed the most went for John McCain in last November’s election.  How people voted doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but here’s something that does: Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays – a 1% increase in a postal code’s religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day. However, expenditures on other days of the week brought them in line with the rest of the country, Edelman finds. Did you get that?  Church folks consume as much porn as […]



The Only Thing You Have to do is Choose

Many years ago – back when I was in college – I decided to start seeing a counselor.  I don’t remember how long I met with him, but I do know that it was an extremely helpful, formative time for me.  This counselor is Christian, and in the cognitive/cognitive-behavioral school of thought.  His spiritual orientation was highly cognitive, and I would say that his cognitive orientation was highly spiritual, if that makes sense. He was big – like really, really big – on getting me to own my identity as a chooser.  He used to say things like, “There are no have-to’s.”  “You don’t have to do anything.”  “You get to do things, you don’t have to.”  While I found that mode of thought highly annoying and highly inconvenient at times, I eventually came to acknowledge the truth in it.  I am a chooser – I make choices all day, […]



Ash Wednesday – The Lenten Journey Begins

Today is the first day of Lent, the Christian journey toward Easter.  I am participating in a Lent Synchroblog, organized by Christine Sine.  A number of bloggers and communities will be posting regular reflections throughout the season.  Check in at Christine’s blog to explore these.  I will be using, and posting reflections on the excellent resource that Christine has prepared – A Journey Into Wholeness: Lenten Reflection Guide .  I would encourage you to do the same. There are so many misconceptions about Lent out there.  Having been raised in a non-liturgical Christian tradition, I’m not even sure I knew that it existed until I was in my 20s.  In the past ten years, I’ve been much more aware, and have learned some of the value of observing.  Some of the misconceptions have to do with the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Set aside chocolate, caffeine, television, […]



What to blog about when you haven't blogged lately

Despite the fact that my paycheck comes from a major Christian denomination, I don’t typically like to blog about them, er, “us.”  Partly because I shudder when using that word – us – because it means I’m complicit in a lot of things I detest.  Partly because it’s embarrassing.  Partly because I think it’s irrelevant to this blog – I’ve been blogging a heckuva lot longer than I’ve worked for the denom, so what’s it to them (er, us)? Once in a while, even when I do mention the denom, I’ll do it without naming the denom.  All the same reasons as above. Yesterday, a classmate tossed up a link on Twitter, to a news story that talked about our mutual denomination, and evangelism programs.  I literally laughed out loud at points.  Laughter was inappropriate, though, because a) it wasn’t supposed to be a funny piece, and b) I should […]



On Being a Tortured Idealist

Without going into all of my motivations for this, I’ll say that the past month or so of my life has been an intense time of introspection, inventory, confession, and renewal for me.  One of the things that I’ve recently been coming to grips with is the degree to which over the past seven or eight years I’ve taken on the role and mental state of a tortured idealist.  I think I’ve always been pretty idealistic and a perfectionist, but usually infused with a healthy dose of optimism . . . up until the tortured idealist phase, that is. I think in my shifting toward a radical deconstruction of theology, church culture, calling, and direction there have been a lot of temporary phases.  The “angry young man phase,” the “revolutionary subversive phase,” the mystical phase, etc.  I’ve cycled in and out of these phases multiple times – let’s keep in […]



Thanks for the bailout, can I have another?

I’ve been too busy to follow the markets much this week, except to note that they’re going down and down and down.  I’ve blogged negatively about some of my thoughts on this . . . mostly in a cranky sort of way. So how about this for a change of pace?  Perhaps one of the most Jesus-y responses to all of this financial chaos, uncertainty, and fear is to do something completely counter-intuitive.  We are the wealthy young rulers, right?  Selling all our posessions and giving the money to the poor is unlikely.  But what if we took on a challenge, and looked at the Dow Jones Industrial Average chart over the past thirty days?  And whatever the percentage of loss turns out to be (note: I have not even looked at this myself), we commit to giving that same percentage of our gross monthly income to the poor?  That’s […]



When relationships change

In odd moments when I haven’t been just chaotically busy lately, I’ve been reflective about change.  If I could have seen the 2008 version of me ten years ago, I’m not sure I would believe my eyes.  Ten years ago I was in my late 20s, and settling into what I thought at the time was a pretty stable life period – married a couple years, finishing grad school, home owner, rising through the ranks of church leadership on my way toward being a professional Christian, etc.  Definitely doing my part to fulfill the supposed American dream.  I don’t have time to go into the countless shifts that have taken place since then. The thing about all this change that has me reflective, though, is the ways in which some significant relationships in my life have become strained.  Some are strained because of differences in theology/doctrine.  Some are strained because […]