Tag Archives: Integrating Spirituality

Evangelicals and Lack of Tradition

This year, the Christian calendar begins November 28th. It is the Season of Advent.

Advent House

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and many mainline churches observe the Christian calendar. The topic for each Sunday is predictable. Scripture from the lectionary guides the themes, liturgy, sermon, art, and music of that particular time. Traditional? Yes. Useful? I do believe it is.

It provides congruence. Most Evangelical pastors are accustomed to, more or less, speaking about what’s been on their mind recently. This is carefully referred to as “what God has laid on their heart.” (And you’d be a fool to question the movement of the Spirit, right? Maybe a fool, or maybe a blasphemer…if you spoke your thoughts.)

In general, it’s not a terrible thing to follow the leading of the Spirit. (If that is truly what is happening. But, that’s another post entirely!) But does this unformatted contemporary formula help cinch together the Story of God, the Christian Story, and bring a cohesive message of the Gospel, in history and depth, in a palpably connected way? Or, is the shoot from the Holy hip often more of a “bang here and a bit there,” approach?

I’d like to hear your take on it?

I tend to think a healthy mix of several Christian traditions could be very spiritually useful in contemporary times. We are already malnourished on a sound bite way of life as is it.

Chaplain Mike, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher, who blogs at imonk does the whole topic much more justice than I can. I strongly encourage you to link to his specific post with the link at the bottom, if you’d like.

Witness this poignant quote found there:
(It really hit home with regards to my Christian church experiences.)

“Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don’t have traditions,” said Carter. “Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. … But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It’s hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we’re always starting over. It’s hard to build something that really lasts.”– Joe Carter as quoted by Terry Mattingly

My main resource for this post and a really helpful article is here at imonk. It is most helpful for Evangelicals, and I challenge you to consider a deeper appreciation for the Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 28th.

Thank you for reading.



Wilbur Chocolate Company

Image via Wikipedia

What you see here is a cup of “Turbo” and the Dark Chocolate Crepe (filled with mascapone cheese, fresh strawberries & dark chocolate truffle ganache. Served with more strawberries, fresh cream & chocolate drizzle) from Cafe Chocolate in Lititz. I only wish I had more than my poor quality camera phone to capture it.

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. If church were like this place, well, we’d all go a lot more, and be heavier. Heavier, but probably happier too. Jolly. We’d be jolly.

Their signature beverage is the Turbo. Made with West African %60 chocolate cocoa, frothed with organic milk, and infused with a shot of smooth Espresso. Image a rich, creamy, chocolaty goodness that sort of shoots you into euphoria, on a Japanese magnet propelled train.
Pleasurable? Yes. Think of your best worship experience with God…and then add fudge.
Okay, don’t do that. I think I went over the line there, plus, it’s like comparing apples with oranges, or chocolate bars with communion wafers.

It’s the kind of drink that can make you cry or sing (or in my case, both). Since God made chocolate, it was eventually a worship moment for me.
And thank goodness for smelling salts!

Lititz, Pa is also the home of Wilbur Chocolate, a very superior confectioner, and the now famous yearly Chocolate Walk. With Hershey Chocolate close by, this whole area of Lancaster County is sort of a Mecca for chocolate lovers. Also Sturgis pretzels is there in Lititz; and they boast America’s first commercial pretzel. You can make your own pretzel on their tour, and eat in fresh out of the oven.

Oh happy day! 🙂

What is your favorite chocolate goodie?

Guest Writer: Shane Tucker ‘Aesthetic Spirituality’

I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.

Shane Tucker


Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.

Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.

Aesthetic Spirituality
by Shane Tucker

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.

Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.

One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.

In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.

“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25

by Shane Tucker / Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) / www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

Thank you, Shane.

Do spirituality/theology and Humor go well together?

Tangled is good: Twister®! (photo: LisaDeLay ©2010)

Spirituality/theology AND humor ≠ peanut butter and jelly?

Peas and carrots?

or More like jelly and mayo?

Or hair and cheesesteak?

Are people who study God (theologians) humorous as much as they are serious?

In my case, yes.

But does that gel? I’m talking like jell-o giggler, gel? Really nicely, with fun and good flavor, and joint protection.

Okay, I’m not paid to teach theology, not yet anyway, so I’m not a pro. Several hundred hours of study should count for something though.

But, I’ve noticed something: If someone tends to take their studies seriously, and their profession seriously, sometimes they lose their sense of humor. It’s not that they can’t be witty on occasion. But I’ve noticed the “humor” can be more sarcastic than uproarious. Theology can be rather dry… but not as in dry humor.

It’s beginning to bother me some, because of the sense that one “has to” pick one way or the other.

• Either you get your respect and admiration seriously honing your forte and thoughts of God, or you pick some sort of madcap way and get sort of dismissed as a lightweight.

Well, rubbish to that.

It shouldn’t be so.

It is a genius blend to be genuinely comical and also thoroughly studied on the important matters of living in this world with a firm consideration of the Divine as the center of it.

It might look like I’m putting it in my mouth, but I have to put my foot in both camps.

So, I’m putting my readers on notice. (Don’t think: Wittenberg Door “notice”. Think: dry erase board.) As anyone knows, straddling can lead to a good hard thwack in the center. I realize this is RISKY. Those of you that know me personally realize this co-mingled vantage point is from where I operate. Some of you may just…not “get it”.

Stay with me here.

I’m not sure where we got the idea that spirituality must be flaky or humorless. Sobriety is one thing, but cheerless? Parish the thought.

If you are new here, welcome. I invite you to what is an engaging game of Twister®, if you will. Here I will not kowtow to stern conventions of how we must study and know God, and our selves, as spiritual creatures. And no, I’m not a witch. Don’t be so stocked, or “freaked” in any way. (Plus, I weigh more than a duck…)

Isn’t God young? It is us who have gotten old and crotchety. Severe or joyless. Being truly alive doesn’t look much like that.

What do you think…?

Have you lost your sense of humor?

Do you find it doesn’t mesh with diligently following God or knowing him well?

Are worship/awe and fun mutually exclusive within spirituality?

Any thing you’d like to say on the matter?

Let’s hear it –


Our First Learning Group is finished.

Here are a few quotes from participants:

“All in all, one of the major things I gleaned from Brother Lawrence, was the similarity of my struggle to his battle, to get past punishing myself  for my failures and losing my focus on God. It seems that when BL finally internalized the concept of God’s grace, he realized that as soon as he saw the disconnect in his life it was foolish to waste time beating himself over it (asceticism, which could take that quite literally, especially in BL’s day!). He learned to immediately return to the position that was already his because of God’s grace, continuing in the joy of His presence.”

“I’m glad Brother Lawrence seems like such a regular guy. He prays things like “God, I can’t do this unless you help me,” and when he messes up, “God, I *always* do that, and if you don’t help me I won’t ever do better!” That I can relate to!”

“I loved that Brother Lawrence was his own man – it was just him and God becuase everyone elses ideas confused him, so he just went straight to God. It was nothing in between – he would just get up – own the difficulty and carry on!!”

“For me, Brother Lawrence broke down some of my pre-assumed barriers by helping to break the secular and sacred divide that has happened in my life. I have often thought… okay, now it’s prayer time, then work time, then church time, then social time… etc. In reality, those separations don’t exist, and it’s immensely helpful to integrate our whole lives.”

Learning exchange invitation to YOU!

Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence-Practicing the Presence of God

For more on -Explaining “online Learning Groups”- click on the tab above called “Learning Groups-Updates”

Fall Favorite – Apple Dumplings + update & photos

When the apples are at their peak, one of my favorite things is to have apple dumplings. They go great with good coffee, and whipped cream on top, or a side of vanilla ice cream, or surrounded in a bit of milk. Around here, the Pennsylvania Germans have crafted a true delicacy. I’m making them today with a friend who knows what she’s doing. I’ll take some photos to show you when they are done. (the one a plate came from here)

What fall traditions, treats, or joys are your favorites?


THAT was fun! These are delicious. Here’s photos of the process. If I get enough requests, I could be talked into posting the recipe. (Get a petition going in the comments, if you’d like.)

Reader Responds with quote (i.e. Lust: an Opportunity)

Karen Moret Harrison wrote:

 “If there is an Enemy of Souls, one thing he cannot abide is the desire for purity. Hence a man’s or woman’s passions become his battleground. The Love of Souls does not prevent this. I was perplexed because it seemed to me He should prevent it, but He doesn’t. He wants us to learn to use our weapons.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

En garde!

It would seem that we must take up armor against attacks that target our weak points, yet use the attacks themselves as God’s inescapable challenges to strengthen ourselves, enrich our dependence on Him, and I dare say,  hone our passions for our best interests, and God’s work.

Thank you for writing, friend! “Allez!”

How about you? Leave your  thoughts and comments, please. 🙂