Here’s some of the reflections shared at a workshop at United Theological College. The Imago workshop is designed to explore the conflicted nature of human beings. Participants are given a selection of news stories from the local newspapers. The news carries disasters and rescues, tragedies and triumphs, criminals and heroes. What does it mean? I used one newspaper story of people doing inspiring stuff, described my feelings about it, and pointed out that it illustrates people at their best and at their worst. In groups of four, participants were invited to look at their newspaper sheets. They looked for public stories which illustrate the best in people and the worst in people. As we gathered this all together we were able to reflect on the ways God engages with us, at our worst, at our best.
Continue reading “Best and Worst at UTC”
Here’s a quote that connects with our thinking about the gospel.
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.
Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
We had some simply amazing conversations in this exercise, “MYW 2.1 God is with you”. Here is our feedback list off the whiteboard but what we discussed was so much more, as you probably expect. We talked quite a bit about how we can be the “people” who influence others to seek God.
Continue reading “How we came to God awareness”
You can talk about ‘spiritual’ things today, even ‘spirituality’, but what do we mean? There is a variety of views about exactly what constitutes spirituality. To cut to the chase, J.A.Wiseman (2006) observed four approaches:
a. Spirituality is about Ultimate Meanings.
b. Everyone is Spiritual
c. Spirituality is about an experience of transcendence
d. A body of interpretations can be called a particular kind of spirituality
Continue reading “What is spiritual?”
Alongside western romanticism, the twentieth century witnessed within Christianity a growing counter-cultural resurgence of contemplation. It encountered resistance from more activist and more rationalist forms of Christianity. However this un-orchestrated emergence is mostly motivated by a felt need to depart from that form of rationalism with which the Western worldview is saturated. It is God out of the box. Let us take a tour of these developments.
In the pre-World War 2 era, interest in contemplation followed the parallel routes of ‘mythology’ and ‘mysticism’, and was pursued by some remarkable and original persons.
Continue reading “Contemporary Contemplatives”
Here’s a free sample, one of the exercises from the series, “Your Story”. Where can we see God at work in others’ lives? How can we interpret that to help them to see how BIG God is? What is happening around them that bears the fingerprints of God?
Some voices speak of a pattern or purpose emerging in their life. They have a sneaking suspicion that they are here for a reason. For many people, it is more than a suspicion. They have been met by a happening from heaven, called an “epiphany” or possibly “a wake up call”. But what is real here? Some epiphanies may be just an overheated imagination, some of it superstitious, without a shred of evidence. Can we understand these spiritual experiences?
Continue reading “God is with you”
Fathers are sometimes abusive and destructive, often absent and neglectful, often nurturing. The social scientists tell us that presence of an active father is an essential in a person’s development, even into advanced years. It’s a high stakes risk, being born.
Equally, there are two huge claims that Christianity makes about God as a kind of father.
Continue reading “Thinking God as Father?”
This is a way of framing a lot of what we do in Makes You Wonder. The basic skill of communicating the gospel is to share four stories. All four are needed, and it doesn’t much matter where you start so long as you don’t stop there. There are exercises in each of these in the four parts of Makes You Wonder.
Continue reading “Four stories”