Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: July, 2014

Do We Fear or Embrace the Dark Night of the Soul?

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There are seasons where I feel like my life is unraveling and becoming too difficult to face in a loving way of humility.  It seems I am the lost one who needs some enlightenment.  My pain is too much and I feel like what I want to be living for is not worth it anymore.  I lose courage and joy becoming consumed with what seems like a dark night of the soul.

The silence is frightening.  I lose the desire to really listen to my life deeply.  I try to run from the solitude God is calling me to in these times.  But I am coming to understand that the longer I live, difficult seasons will surely manifest and these are for my own development in life.

  • Silence and solitude will expose ourselves

Silence and solitude will expose ourselves.  We will experience what seems like a darkness at times.  We will experience a desert within ourselves at times.  Most of us do not like anything that resembles darkness and desert experiences.

  •  All our perceived paradigms will be questioned and misplaced

The darkness and desert seasons are difficult.  Our silence and solitude will lead us to a dark night of the soul.  In this darkness all of our preconceived paradigms will be questioned and misplaced.  We will think that God has abandoned us as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  Constantly seeking God through the dark night of the soul

But this is the natural process of our spiritual growth.  Christ experienced these kinds of things throughout his life and we will have to do the same.  There is wisdom present within us if we do not let these experiences frighten us to the point of giving up our pursuit of God.  We need to seek God constantly through the dark night of the soul.

  •  Breaking through our illusions of control

These experiences teach us necessary wisdom that will help us in ways we cannot understand.  They are mysterious.  They break through all our illusions of control in life.

  •  Trusting God through our pain

Our practice of silence and solitude will help us to walk through the darkness and desert experiences with courage.  We will learn to trust in God through our pain.  These experiences expose the pain that lives within us.

  •  Our pain makes us human in solidarity with others

We all live with pain.  We need to embrace our pain and not pretend that “Christ has completed us” taking all our pain away.  Our pain makes us human and gives us solidarity with others.

  •  Being honest about the existence of pain within our lives

Pain is the commonality that we all experience throughout our lives.  The mystical imagination is not afraid to expose ourselves through the pain of darkness and desert experiences.  The mystical imagination is honest about the existence of pain within our lives.

How can we embrace the seasons of life that are difficult and trust that God is shaping us through what seems like a dark night of the soul?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406815888&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

What Has Happened to the Sacredness of Life?

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In the midst of knowing a few people who have died recently, gotten sick with cancer, have had surgeries or have struggled with health due to aging; I find myself pondering life differently.  In the middle age of my life I am coming to not take life for granted so much.  I am coming to understand and experience all of life as sacred.  The things I perceive as difficult or those things I perceive as blessings have all become sacred to me in everyday life.

  •  A life that is not reducible by division, category, or degree

Wendell Berry says in his book The Way Of Ignorance, “When Jesus speaks of having life more abundantly, this, I think, is the life He means: a life that is not reducible by division, category, or degree, but is one thing, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and material, divided only insofar as it is embodied in distinct creatures…”

  •  Discover our way out of this sacred/secular divide

To experience abundant life as the body of Christ is to discover our way out of this sacred/secular divide.  It is to see all of life as miracle, gift, sacred.  These categories of sacred/secular cannot exist when faithful presence is embodied within us as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  A conversion to seeing all of life as sacred

We enter into a holistic spirituality when the sacred/secular divide disappears and is forgotten.  It seems that all great people of faith experienced a conversion to seeing all of life as sacred.  They were blinded to the idea of the secular.  The secular had no relevance.

  •  The boxes of the sacred/secular divide

Our lives cannot be reduced to be lived within the boxes of the sacred/secular divide.  We scream that we want out.  We put up the boundary to the secular.  We live in the Christ of the sacred, in our locality, in the abundance of our spirituality.

  •  The sacred infuses everything we are

There is no turning back.  We forget the illusion of the secular and embrace all of life as sacred.  The sacred infuses everything we are as the body of Christ in the parish.  The sacred is friendly, beautiful, good and trustworthy.

  •  Sacredness can only be experienced in the tangible, material world

There is an abundance to the sacredness of life.  Sacredness can only be experienced in the tangible, material world of the place we live.  The sacred does not exist anywhere else except in the here and now of everyday life together.  The body of Christ needs to embrace the sacredness of all of life in our neighborhood, our relationships, our work together in community.

  •  There is no escaping the sacredness of life

Everything is sacred.  I want to repeat that: Everything is sacred, but sometimes we can’t see it or don’t understand it as our embodied experience!  There is no escaping the sacredness of life.  We will be led to freedom from the sacred/secular divide through the mystical imagination.

How can we embody the sacredness of all of life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406739058&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Have We Forgotten the Practice of Awareness?

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My own understanding of awareness has been difficult in many ways.  I used to think that I am separated from God in everyday life, God has little or no connection to the place I live, to the relationships I have or to the things I do.  Church seemed to be about a building and less about a community.  But I soon discovered that maybe I had it all wrong.

  •  Opening my soul to a different way of awareness

I discovered that maybe there was more to understand within me that would open up my soul to a different way of awareness.  I didn’t yet discover the longings living within me that would cultivate an awareness of God’s presence within me in the parish.  I didn’t have a steady practice of contemplation (a deep listening within life).  But the lonelier I became, the more I pursued God through a practice of contemplation.

  •  All alone on my own

Other than Sunday, I was usually on my own with my spirituality.  I had to figure out personal growth on my own, spiritual formation on my own, discipleship on my own.  There was no one there to help me or mentor me.  I was all alone living by myself in an apartment, working a professional job as a teacher.  I was frustrated and didn’t know what to do so I started to read books for mentorship.

  •  Dreaming about things I couldn’t see in everyday life

I started practicing contemplation (I really didn’t know what I was doing I just followed the longings of my soul) to develop some sense of growth in my life.  I would lay in my bed and cry sometimes because of all of this.  I would think about things that mattered to me.  I would dream of things that I couldn’t see in everyday life.

  •  Beyond words and language

This was all beyond words and language that I could express to anyone.  I didn’t understand what was going on and how God was forming me for the future.  Through many years of practice, and soon becoming a part of the Downtown Neighborhood Fellowship, I received some guidance and developed a lot of awareness understanding the mystical imagination more.

  •  An awareness for new paradigms

I started to have an awareness for new paradigms of communion with God, spiritual formation, the body of Christ and the importance of a theology of place.  Now after many years, I believe awareness of God presence in the parish is so important to experience the body of Christ in everyday life.  I believe a practice of contemplation beyond language and words is essential to this.

  •  Our awareness to the presence of God

Thomas Keating says in his book Open Heart Open Mind, “We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time.  In similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us.  Our awareness, unfortunately, is not awake to that dimension of reality…”

How can we cultivate an awareness to the presence of God in everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406643842&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Book Review – How To Be A Christian Without Going To Church: The Unofficial Guide To Alternative Forms of Christian Community by Kelly Bean

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This is a fantastic book by Kelly Bean!  She helps us to reimagine what an embodied Christianity can look like in the twenty-first century.  Local community outside of the structures of what we know as the institutional church is a big emphasis of hers.  I find this to be compelling and inspiring.

Kelly takes us through a paradigm shift from going to church to being church in the particular place we live.  I love how she has a strong emphasis on the idea of parish and neighborhood.  She draws out how we need to be asking new questions together about authenticity.  Uncertainty, relational community, sustainability, hospitality, intentionality, self-awareness, presence and listening will all be a part of our journey in this way of being.  I strongly agree and am delighted that Kelly Bean has written such a wonderful book at such an important time in our history.

  • Local and sustainable ways of life

“People have an increased awareness of the need to live in ways that are local and sustainable.”

  • New questions become important

“…we were not made to go it alone, and the body of Christ cannot be the body of Christ if we give up on each other.  But what happens when the structures, institutions, and forms that exist now – even innovative new forms – are no longer working for a growing number of people?  New questions become important…”

  • Authentic relational community

“These non-goers are likely to look for faith expressions that support integration of ordinary life, authentic relational community, hands-on engagement, and smaller, more sustainable forms of community.”

  • Lived communal examples

“More than ever, the world needs to see lived communal examples of what it means to be Christian…”

  • There will be uncertainty

“It comforts me to remember this: when the first Jesus followers threw down their nets, they had no idea what they were getting into.  When the Protestant Reformers parted ways with the Roman Catholic Church, they didn’t have new forms in place to replace the structures that had shaped their way of life.  When Francis of Assisi flung his father’s fortune in the street and set out to form a new community of faith, he had no idea what would be born.  Charting a new course does mean there will be uncertainty.”

  • The peace of Christ is with us

“No matter what our circumstances are or what craziness is going on in the world, we can remind each other that Christ is present – the peace of Christ is with us.  We are not alone.  A simple kindness, eye contact, and human touch bring a blessing wherever we are…”

  • Examine the call toward hospitality together

“When we, the community of Christ, examine the scriptural call toward hospitality together and then we work together, we can stretch our imaginations and our comfort zones.  It is important to keep in mind that sometimes we need to first be hospitable to ourselves, close that open door, and focus inward for a season.  When it is time to open the door, when we welcome the wayfarer, the immigrant, the homeless, the displaced, the lonely, the single parent, we incarnate the welcome of Jesus and we ourselves are transformed.”

  • Relational expressions of community

“Relational expressions of community can be healing and life-giving to us and to others…”

  • With intention and with action

“With intention and with action, and even without the structure of the church, we can indeed bring blessings to the world and extend transformative hospitality to others.  When we take the initiative to be present to people, to share our gifts, and to always keep learning from others, we extend the light of kindness and the Good News of Christ right where we are to whoever we are with.”

  • Being transformed by others who live differently

“There are many ways that, together, we can build bridges.  Being open to being transformed by others who live differently than we do not only helps change us but helps to connect and change the world.”

  • Working through our pain

“…working through our pain and choosing to gain new tools for dealing with conflict and engaging in communication brings benefit to not only ourselves but to all our relationships…”

  • Real-life experience

“…real spiritual formation comes from real-life experience…”

  • Called to be Christ to people where we live

“As Christ was God incarnate – fully God and fully human – someone we could see and feel, so we are called to be Christ to people, incarnating and redeeming the places where we live and work, for the good of all…”

  • Getting in touch with our own pain and becoming aware of our own brokenness

“Getting in touch with our own pain and becoming aware of our own brokenness is not an easy path, but it’s one that leads to our own transformation as well as the possibility of forming authentic relationships.  No matter how many good intentions we have, if we are not becoming more self-aware and taking active measures to continue toward growth and healing, our work and our relationships can only go so far and may end up causing more harm than good over time…”

  • Starting with our own neighborhood

“…if we can learn to walk with others, in ordinary ways and places, we help bring grace and healing to our neighborhoods and cities – to the whole of society right where we are.  I would add that in the process we receive grace and are healed as well.  The fact is that we need to start with our own neighborhood, our own zip code, to work toward making a better society and world.”

  • Stop to listen and learn from our neighbors

“When we stop to listen and learn from our neighbors and neighborhood, the need of the neighborhood itself can inform our action…”

  • Engage in local solutions and connection for the good of the world

“Christ, who made himself local and rooted himself in a particular place at a particular time in history, invites us to engage in local solutions and connection for the good of the world.”

  • Become communities that bear light together

“May we all keep growing, continue learning, and become communities that bear light together, even in our brokenness…”

  • Wounded by the church

“If you were wounded by the church and you’ve left in pain or discouragement, please, seek healing and don’t allow that place of pain to settle in and take hold of you.  Grieve, and when you are ready, move forward with the awareness that there is goodness to pursue.  For those of you who have been lonely or uncertain, be encouraged that you are not the only one in this place of change.  There is a place for you – make a way for others or seek out kindred souls for the way forward.”

How do you feel about the idea of being a Christian without going to church?  What positive or negative impressions does this bring up in you?  Does it bring you hope or fear?

http://www.amazon.com/How-Christian-without-Going-Church/dp/0801072425/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406399933&sr=8-1&keywords=kelly+bean

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406399756&sr=8-1&keywords=mark+votava

How Would We Be Shaped If We Embodied Stability?

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Practicing stability for over a decade has taught me about life, people, God and myself.  I am learning to love, show compassion and practice humility in my everyday life.  The practice of gratitude has become something that keeps me from getting overwhelmed from what isn’t.  The place I live has taught me to see the similarities in others rather than our differences.

I am learning to find balance.  I am learning to be kind and forgiving.  I am finding God revealed to me through the ordinary things in everyday life.  Freedom is not just an idea, but an embodied experience I live out each day.

  •  Practicing stability together in the parish

We need years together of practicing stability in the parish to embody the gospel.  We need a shared history together throughout time to practice our discipleship with others.  We need to be put to the test by the stability we practice together as the body of Christ in everyday life.

  •  Testing our commitment, authenticity, love and humanity

The parish imagination will test our commitment.  The parish imagination will test our authenticity.  The parish imagination will test our love.  The parish imagination will test our humanity.

  •  Shaping us into our true selves

Stability will either shape us into our true selves or we will give up on our faith altogether and lead individualistic lives.  Stability is hard work and does not come easy in a culture that has forgotten this virtue.  But the parish imagination is calling out to us for a rootedness in the place we live.

  • Encountered with a shared life with others

As we practice the value of stability, we cannot live individualistically anymore.  We are encountered with a shared life with others.  We cannot escape this possibility anymore.  It is our place that we are accountable to.

  •  We cannot ignore our local context

We cannot misuse the parish if we care for it.  We cannot be colonial if we care for the good of others.  We cannot ignore our local context when we have a parish imagination of rootedness.

  •  The long, hard work of life with other people where we are

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove says in his insightful book The Wisdom Of Stability, “Stability demands that we do the long, hard work of life with other people in the place where we are.”  Stability will requires everything from us.  Stability will require a strength of perseverance.  Stability has deep wisdom to reveal to us as the body of Christ in everyday life.

  •  Stability teaches us compassion, humility and love

Stability teaches us of life with others.  Stability teaches us compassion.  Stability teaches us humility.  Stability teaches us how to love.

  •  Stability teaches us relational connection, grace and simplicity

Stability teaches us relational connection.  Stability teaches us grace.  Stability teaches us simplicity.  Stability teaches us proximity.

How can we practice stability together as the body of Christ in everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406225194&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Dancing to the Drum of Social Capital

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Sometimes I look at all of this commuter church stuff and just think that the people leading these kinds of gatherings should give up the whole thing and shut it down.  I don’t see any point to the body of Christ if it is not embodied in everyday life together in a particular place for the good of the culture around them.  I think commuter Christianity is so destructive because it creates a massive duality between our everyday lives and our spirituality.  This medium suggests that our spirituality has nothing to do with our everyday lives as the medium is the message.

  •  Living in collaboration

We must live in collaboration with men and women in the place we inhabit together to build social capital and neighborliness among us.  We must connect with others in this way to cultivate the parish imagination.  We must work cooperatively in neighborliness with others to create a different kind of world for all of us.  A new world will begin to develop through social capital in the parish.

  •  There is no time for destruction, for hatred, for anger

Twentieth century visionary Ivan Illich writes, “We must therefore strive cooperatively to create the new world.  There is no time left for destruction, for hatred, for anger.  We must build, in hope and joy and celebration.  Let us meet the new era of abundance with self-chosen work and freedom to follow the drum of one’s own heart.  Let us recognize… that we will choose those areas of activity which will contribute to our own development and will be meaningful to our society.”

  •  Following the drum of social capital

We need to follow the drum of social capital and neighborliness through the parish imagination in the place we inhabit together.  We must build this with a sense of celebration.  We must build this with a sense of love.  We must build this with a sense of intuition.

  •  Leading us a long way together

This is work that is good and meaningful in our postmodern culture of confusion and fragmentation.  Is there anything meaningful still today?  Social capital and neighborliness could lead us a long way together in the place we live.

  •  Relational care in the parish

Social capital is all about others.  Neighborliness is all about others.  Social capital and neighborliness are about relational care in the parish.  This is what the body of Christ is to practice together.

  •  The neighbor cannot be ignored

Social capital is about loving your neighbor.  Neighborliness is about loving your neighbor.  The gospel is about the neighbor.  The neighbor cannot be ignored in the parish.

  •  Other people make up life

The neighbor is all that matters to God in the place we live.  Legendary social activist Dorothy Day states, “All our life is bound up with other people…”  Other people make up life.

How can we love our neighbors in the parish?  How can we live into the drum of social capital and collaboration?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406225194&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Have We Valued the Practice of Pilgrimage?

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My experiences of traveling to new places to understand other parts of North America or the world have been profound for me.  I remember visiting the third world country of Romania and seeing the poverty of their suffering.  This redefined the word poverty for me here in the United States.  I now see poverty differently then what I used to know and understand about it.

The people there inspired me to love the poor.  They inspired me to live with greater simplicity.  I learned from them the importance of living interdependently toward one another.

This pilgrimage shaped me tremendously as it has been some fifteen years since I went there.  I have learned from this experience to foster a different way of life in the parish of Downtown Tacoma where I have lived for the past ten years.  I am practicing a way of life that cares for the poor, which values simplicity and interdependence in community.

  •  Seeing through new paradigms  

Pilgrimages help us to listen in new ways.  Pilgrimages help us to awaken to culture.  Pilgrimages help us to see through new paradigms in the parish.  Pilgrimages help us to become human.

  •  Pilgrimages can awaken us to reality

Pilgrimages help us to experience the parish imagination as rooted and linked.  Pilgrimages can be frightening.  Pilgrimages can shake us out of the status quo.  Pilgrimages can awaken us to reality.

  •  The mysterious process of awakening

Co-founder of The Gravity Center, Phileena Heuertz says, “Embarking on pilgrimage mirrors the initiation of awakening…”  We start a mysterious process of awakening that we never thought possible when we learn from other contexts.  When we see the on-the-ground stories with our own eyes and meet the real flesh and blood people that brought these stories to life, we are inspired beyond what we could have imagined.  This gives life to our local context when we come back home in new ways.

  •  Encouraged by the stories of practitioners from other contexts

Learning from another context gives life to our local context.  The parish imagination needs regular periods of inspiration from other local contexts around the country and around the world.  The parish imagination is encouraged by the stories of practitioners from other local contexts.  We gain so much wisdom and inspiration from these stories and experiences.

  •    Cultivating the dreams within us

God speaks to us through other local contexts.  God uses the stories, experiences and struggles of other places to encourage the parish imagination within our local context.  We learn immensely when we embark on pilgrimage to other contexts.  This practice cultivates the dreams within us for our parish.

  •  Opening us to new possibilities

This practice opens us to new possibilities.  Stories are so powerful from other contexts.  We need to hold these stories within us as we seek to integrate and collaborate within our parish.  This will build some sustainability and stability within the parish imagination among us.

How can we practice pilgrimage and learn from other contexts?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406041232&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

3 Reasons Why the Attractional, Commuter Church is Dualistic and Boring

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When I first learned about spirituality at a young age, all I could see of the church was an attractional, commuter expression of a gathering of people who sing songs and listen to someone preaching intellectual ideas about God.  Over the years I have thought, “This is the body of Christ?  This is the good news?  It seems pretty boring, disengaged and disembodied to me.”  I have become so bored with this expression of Christianity in North America where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Can I actually be honest and say that I am bored with the Christianity that I have been taught without that being a bad thing?

This expression of Christianity is teaching me a dualism that is not healthy.  It is actually destructive to my spirituality.  I cannot make sense of it anymore and have given up on it for good.  You may think that this is a bad thing, but it has brought me to a place of greater authenticity, freedom and liberation.

Here are 3 reasons why I find the attractional, commuter church dualistic and boring:

1. There is little engagement with the local community.  When we are not present in our local community and just go to church somewhere else, the medium suggests that spirituality has nothing to do with life.  Shared life, community, relationship, common work, loving our neighbors together, listening, hospitality and embodied practice is virtually nonexistent.

2. It requires nothing in everyday life together.  This idea of going to church is narcissistic and  consumeristic a lot of the time.  I think this is the case because it is impossible to engage in everyday life together when we do not live in any sense of proximity to one another or to a particular place.  When there is no everyday life together, we end up using God for our own agenda and faith becomes a product we consume to our liking.

3. It is individualistic and colonial.  The attractional, commuter church promotes individualism because there is no body to be a part of in everyday life together.  It is colonial because there is no embodied practice together Monday through Saturday.  All we will have to rely on is church growth, evangelism disconnected from hospitality, an overreliance on preaching with very little sense of love and relationship with our neighbors.

The idea of parish could bring us back to a place of engagement with our world, culture and neighbors.  It would do us good to stop “going to church” for the well being of our souls and start engaging in becoming a part of the local community we live in together with others.  This is much less dualistic and could bring us some joy instead of boredom in everyday life to the body of Christ in the twenty-first century of our crazy, fragmented world.

How can we stop going to church and become engaged in our local community?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405434001&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The Future Practitioners of the Body of Christ – Excerpt from my book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

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“Rooted in intellect and experience, this book is a charge for the Church to reorient its identity from an autonomous entity to an interconnected organism.  Acknowledging the high cost of such a reorientation, Mark offers a vision and set of practices that might just allow us to experience life and faith as it was meant to be lived.”  Jon Huckins, neighborhood practitioner, author of Thin Places

The body of Christ is not some mechanism with no heart and life, but a living breathing body.  All bodies breathe, move, change and relate to their environment.  When bodies are unhealthy they stop functioning properly.  When bodies are dead we bury them.  Kester Brewin says, “We must reestablish ourselves as the body of Christ, not the machine of Christ.  Bodies are organic, dynamic, sentient, and conscious…  Machines break down, while bodies evolve…”  We should be an evolving body in everyday life together.  Will we feel the pain and the joy of living life together and loving one another?

These are difficult real-life experiences that we cannot escape if we are to be human.  We are not building a machine but a body.  I don’t want to become a part of a machine where I become the very fuel that it needs to work.  This reminds me of the movie The Matrix where Neo finds out that the machine world is using human beings as fuel.  Everyone thinks they are living life the way it was meant to be, and no one realizes they are living an illusion.  It may be an extreme metaphor but the church of our day seems to be playing inside of a Matrix of its own, and a lot of people are hiding behind its clichés.

I feel that the lay people, the people who are the ordinary folk, who live common ordinary lives are going to be the future practitioners of the body of Christ in local contexts, living in local neighborhoods, receiving wisdom through experiments of local embodiment.  Living relationally, in locality, in neighborhood, doesn’t take any fancy theological degrees from prestigious schools to accomplish.  All it really takes is a willingness to be faithful to God and to others and to a place.  All it takes is a listening posture to change and live your life together with others in community.  All it takes is vulnerability and courage.  All it takes is investing your life and giving up our extreme individualism and learning how to be the church together.  Elaine A. Heath and Scott T. Kisker in their book Longing for Spring, say, “The pattern of renewal occurs over and over in the history of the church.  Worldliness creeps into the structures of the church, and God inspires His people to experiment with models of faithfulness.  Renewal does not happen when the laity ‘take control’ of the church, but rather when the laity realize we are the church.”

How can we strive to become the future practitioners of the body of Christ?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405170654&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Book Review – Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

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This is a great book by Barbara Brown Taylor!  In it she explores how darkness is crucial to shaping us for the common good of the world we live in.  She concludes the book by saying, “If I want to flourish, I need the ever-changing light of darkness as much as I need the full light of day.”  Highly recommended.

  • There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there

“…it makes me wonder how seeing has made me blind – by giving me cheap confidence that one quick glance at things can tell me what they are, by distracting me from learning how the light inside me works, by fooling me into thinking I have a clear view of how things really are, of where the road leads, of who can see rightly and who cannot.  I am not asking to become blind, but I have become a believer.  There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there.”

  • Learning to let go of my bright ideas about God

“While I am looking for something large, bright, and unmistakably holy, God slips something small, dark, and apparently negligible in my pocket.  How many other treasured have I walked right by because they did not meet my standards?  At least one of the day’s lessons is about learning to let go of my bright ideas about God so that my eyes are open to the God who is…”

  • This dark night is beyond your control

“When the dark night first falls, it is natural to spend some time wondering if it is a test or punishment for something you have done.  This is often a sly way of staying in control of the situation, since the possibility that you have caused it comes with the hope that you can also put an end to it, either by passing the test or by enduring the punishment.  The darker possibility – that this night is beyond your control – is often too frightening to consider at first, at least partly because it means that none of your usual strategies for lightening up is going to work.  One of the hardest things to decide during a dark night is whether to surrender or resist.  The choice often comes down to what you believe about God and how God acts, which means that every dark night of the soul involves wrestling with belief.”

  • The dark night is God’s best gift to you

“The dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation.  It is about freeing you from your ideas about God, your fears about God, your attachment to all the benefits you have been promised for believing in God, your devotion to the spiritual practices that are supposed to make you feel closer to God, your dedication to doing and believing all the right things about God, your positive and negative evaluations of yourself as a believer in God, your tactics for manipulating God, and your sure cures for doubting God.”

How has the dark night of the soul shaped you?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405085726&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination