spiritual practices

Paradoxology

Is our faith a blessing or a burden?  Are the practices of prayer, worship, fasting, giving, serving and studying gifts or obligations?  The way a person answers these questions is very telling as to the role and value of faith in her or his life.  It is continuously fascinating to […]

Why People Think We’re Crazy

There are times when Christians drive me absolutely nuts.  One way this happens is when I hear well-meaning and sincere Christians confuse faith and superstition, relying on prayer as a magical talisman or incantation.  I listened to a United Methodist colleague share recently that he no longer prays because it […]

When Teaching Became Task

I attended a session a few year’s ago at a Christian Educator’s Fellowship meeting where the leader talked about the importance of “good content, good topics, and good technique.”  She delivered a very compelling vision of the task of teaching — organized, exacting, and precise.  I went to another workshop […]

Prayer Stupid

Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, we had a term for people too stupid to live — prayer stupid.  The not-all-too-sensitive meaning was that prayer was all that was left for these folks — they had no other options.  Their guardian angels were beaten, tattered, and torn — […]

Irresponsibly Unresponsive

What responsibility does the individual have for her or his own spiritual growth and development?  At least 70% of people leaving The United Methodist Church give “spiritual needs not met” as one of the reasons for their departure.  (Based on 429 “exit” interviews, 2002-2003)  But what do they mean when […]

A More Prayermissive Society

Various recent studies and articles note an upswing in the practice of prayer in American culture.  Must be a good thing, right?  More prayer, more devotion to God?  More prayer, more kindness and compassion in the world?  More prayer, more attention to God’s will?  Not so much.  The increase in prayer […]

Worshipping in God’s Absence

Six year’s ago I worked with five Vanderbilt seminary students on a worship project.  They attended dozens of Christian worship experiences in all sizes, shapes, forms, and cultures of United Methodist congregations, then we sat and “debriefed” each experience.  One 27-year-old woman, Erin, an Episcopalian, made an unusual and provocative […]