Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: March, 2015

13 great quotes from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr 


1. Breaking through to enlightenment and compassion

“I cannot pretend to understand God, but this is what I see: People who have moved from seeming success to seeming success seldom understand success at all, except a very limited version of their own.  People who fail to do it right, by their own definition of right, are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion…”

2. Overcome all temptations to resentment

“Only hour by hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.”

3. Intentional struggles

“People only come to deeper consciousness by intentional struggles with contradictions, conflicts, inconsistencies, inner confusions…”

4. People who can be up front and honest

“People who are more transparent and admitting of their blind spots and personality flaws are actually quite easy to love and be with.  None of us need or expect perfect people around us, but we do want people who can be up front and honest about their mistakes and limitations, and hopefully grow from them.”

5. The totally rational or dualistic mind invariably misses the point 

“Almost all true spirituality has a paradoxical character to it, which is why the totally rational or dualistic mind invariably misses the point, and just calls things it does not understand wrong, heresy, or stupid…”

6. How we situate ourselves in this world

“The longer I live the more I believe that truth is not an abstraction or an idea that can be put into formulas or mere words.  Our real truth has to do with how we situate ourselves in this world…”

7. Wisdom and respect for the other

“To offer an apology in a way that can actually heal the other takes wisdom and respect for the other…”

8. To be fully conscious

“To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way – even our mistakes.  To love is to fall into full consciousness, which is contemplative, non-dualistic, and including everything…”

9. Inside our explanations, our preferences, and even our theologies

“We all seem to bind up both God and one another inside our explanations, our preferences, and even our theologies…”

10. The necessary beginning of any spiritual path

“Addiction is a spiritual disease, a disease of the soul, an illness resulting from longing, frustrated desire, and deep dissatisfaction – which is ironically the necessary beginning of any spiritual path.”

11. In human suffering with us and for us

“Many of the happiest and most peaceful people I know love a God who walks with crucified people…  For them, Jesus is not observing human suffering from a distance but is somehow in human suffering with us and for us…”

12. Formed much more by shared pain

“Deep communion and dear compassion is formed much more by shared pain than by shared pleasure…”

13. To fully participate at the very foundation of Being itself

“To mourn for one is to mourn for all.  To mourn with all is to fully participate at the very foundation of Being itself.  For some reason, which I have yet to understand, beauty hurts.  Suffering opens the channel through which all of Life flows and by which all creation breathes, and I still do not know why.  Yet it is somehow beautiful, even if it is a sad and tragic beauty.”

Which quote do you like best?

10 great quotes from the book New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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1. The man who lives in division

“The man who lives in division is living in death.  He cannot find himself because he is lost; he has ceased to be a reality…”

2. The only One who can teach me

“The only One who can teach me to find God is God…”

3. To escape from the prison of our own false self

“The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls…”

4. Not a philosopher’s abstraction

“The living God, the God Who is God and not a philosopher’s abstraction, lies infinitely beyond the reach of anything our eyes can see or our minds can understand…”

5. A memory that is not alive to the present

“Memory is corrupted and ruined by a ‘crowd of memories.’  If I am going to have a true memory, there are a thousand things that must be forgotten.  Memory is not fully itself when it reaches only into the past.  A memory that is not alive to the present does not ‘remember’ the here and now, does not ‘remember’ its true identity, is not memory at all.  He who remembers nothing but facts and past events, and is never brought back into the present, is a victim of amnesia.”

6. We do not go into the desert to escape people

“We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them good…”

7. Love is the reason for my existence

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.”

8. You will only isolate yourself

“But the only justification for a life of deliberate solitude is the conviction that it will help you to love not only God but also other men.  If you go into the dessert merely to get away from the people you dislike, you will find neither peace nor solitude; you will only isolate yourself…”

9. My false and private self

“My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life.  And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.”

10. The good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.  For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.”

Which quote do you resonate with the most?

22 great quotes from the book God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Mirabai Starr


1. The compassionate Father and the protective Mother

“The One revels itself as the compassionate Father and the protective Mother, as unrequited Lover and loyal Friend, residing always at the core of our hearts, and utterly invisible.  The One transcends all form, all description, all theory, categorically refusing to be defined or confined by our human impulse to unlock the Mystery.  And the One resides at the center of all that is, ever-present and totally available.”

2. Taking care of the land

“Our challenge is not only to recognize the face of the Creator in the beauty of creation, but also to serve the Divine by taking care of the land, the air, and all beings that dwell with us here…”

3. Giving voice to the voiceless

“Countless women and men – known and unknown – stand up every day to give voice to the voiceless – not because it seems like the right thing to do, but because they have no choice: The call comes storming through the gates of their hearts…  In the act of surrendering to the Divine, the prophet relinquishes comfort, control, and any hope of being understood.”

4. At the heart of spiritual practice

“There is a longing that burns at the heart of spiritual practice…”

5. Longing and wholeness

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast.  In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news.  In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

6. Interdependence with all beings

“Interdependence with all beings has never again been an abstract concept to me.  I am viscerally aware of my debt to every blade of grass.  Innumerable, unexpected blessings emerged from the ashes of my loss: a childlike wonderment and gratitude in the face of the simplest things: a bowl of buttered noodles, reading poetry to my husband in bed, two horses prancing across the field behind our house.  These are the blossoms that unfold from my growing relationship with the Mystery of Love…”

7. Intrigued by your own unraveling

“You dare not speak these questions aloud…  It looks like a crisis of faith.  They will rush in to fix you.  But you are intrigued by your own unraveling.  You would like to see what comes next.  It is a relief to know nothing, to want nothing.  If this is an ailment, you think, may I never recover.”

8. Undergoing periods of radical unknowing

“It can be terrifying to find ourselves alone with Mystery.  Yet it is necessary to undergo periods of radical unknowing.”

9. An authentic spiritual meltdown

“…an authentic spiritual meltdown is a cause for celebration.  It is only then that we are stripped of our attachment to the way the presence of God is supposed to feel, and begin to rest in spiritual nakedness.  Divested of our constructs about the existence and nature of this God, we come face to face with Ultimate Reality.  In the midst of our crumbling, we may not see it as grace.  In fact, it looks as though we are giving up on God or, even worse, that God has abandoned us.”

10. The Dark Night of the Soul  

“The Dark Night of the Soul is often an intensely private experience, invisible to the casual observer.  It may have nothing to do with external circumstances…  Yet life-changing losses can be a catalyst for the internal breakdown of our most cherished beliefs.  If we tighten against the pain of this process, we may miss the opportunity for personal transformation and spiritual healing…”

11. Too mysterious to be defined

“The God of my parents repudiated is not my God.  My God is too vast to be contained by theology, too mysterious to be defined, too holy to be personified.  My God neither punishes nor rewards, but invites me into a living relationship that unfolds in the heart of all that is.  My God belongs to everyone, and this belonging connects me to the web of all life.”

12. The embodiment of the beloved

“The life of Christ is a mirror of the generous face of the Divine.  One Gospel story after the next reveals a God-Man who treated everyone as the embodiment of the beloved…”

13. A direct engagement with the roots of poverty

“Compassion is not a matter of feeling pity for the poor; it is a direct engagement with the roots of poverty, a willingness to sacrifice our own comfort for the well-being of someone else…”

14. The most difficult stranger to welcome

“Maybe the most difficult stranger to welcome is the one who lives inside us…”

15. Striking a balance

“How do we strike a balance between tending to our own welfare and serving the endless needs of humanity and the earth, between pouring ourselves out into the world and seeking to refill our own cup?  How do we ensure that we are not rolling down a path of convenience, showing up to serve when it suits our comfort and boosts our prestige, and withholding our gifts when we are feeling impoverished and underappreciated.”

16. Our most beautiful gifts

“And so I am reminded that our gravest errors can leave scars that become our most beautiful gifts.  And our scars become reminders of grace, of forgiveness.  Our wounds can serve as signs of our interconnectedness with all beings, and motivate us to continue striving to make things right between us.”

17. The technological world

“What is it in the psyche of the human family that now so deeply yearns for the Divine Feminine?  Why has She been shunned, ridiculed, and buried alive for millennia?  Perhaps by revitalizing our relationship with the Holy She, in the form of Mother, of Lover, of most intimate female Friend, we may unfold the treasure map that leads to the resources we need to heal the ravaged planet and all who dwell on her.  Tribal peoples have always understood the sacred nature of Mother Earth, but the technological world, in losing its connection with the land, has lost its connection to the Feminine.  It’s time to reclaim our birthright.”

18. Lifting up the whole world

“When you drop down into the silence, you lift up the whole world.”

19. The gift of being in the present moment

“To live a contemplative life means to consciously put aside the thousand demands of the world and offer ourselves the gift of being in the present moment, alert to the signs of the sacred that are breaking through everywhere, always…”

20. The line between genius and madness

“The greatest saints and mystics were plagued by all the same challenges the rest of us grapple with – often more so…  The line between genius and madness has always been a fluid one.  Radical gifts seem to be accompanied by equally potent imbalances.  Many brilliant artists, poets, and spiritual leaders suffer from depression and substance abuse.”

21. Let our experiences break us open

“…we all have the opportunity to let our experiences break us open to a place beyond the dualities of good and evil, right and wrong, self and the Divine…”

22. Rest in your groundedness

“So don’t do anything fancy.  Just rest in your groundedness and witness what happens.  Be willing not to know…”

Which quote here is your favorite?

9 Things You Can Do to Cultivate a Relationship with the Present Moment  

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I find that the present moment is always slipping through my fingers just when I think I have a hold on it.  But I am finding out that the present moment cannot be contained by me in any way.  It can only be embodied in an evolving fashion in everyday life.

The present moment is constantly teaching me to live my life.  It is calling to me to do away with my anxieties and find what is available now.  There is usually so much wisdom, peace and love in the present moment, but I cannot see it because I am focused on what is missing in life.  This is one of my greatest mistakes as it keeps me from being grateful about the life I have.

This is a lifelong process of learning to live by the rhythms of the present moment.  It teaches me of the mysteries of God and the sacredness of all of life.  When I have practiced appreciating all of life as a gift, my imagination becomes alive and I start to breathe freely.

Here are 9 things we can do to cultivate a healthy relationship with the present moment.

1. Practice silence and solitude

Our silence and solitude will bring us to embrace living in the present moment.  Living in the present moment is impossible without silence and solitude.  Our silence and solitude will cultivate a healthy, functional relationship with the present moment in the place we inhabit together.

2. Embrace an embodied wholeness

Without silence and solitude, we will have an unhealthy relationship with the present moment.  We will abuse the preset moment with our own agendas.  We cannot directly see this relationship with our eyes, we can only feel it embodied in our relationships.  Is it whole or not?

We feel the energy it brings into our locality.  It is either functional or dysfunctional.  This relationship affects all our relationships.

3. Be open to yourself, others, the world and life

David G. Benner says in his book Soulful Spirituality, “Our relationship with the now will always shape every other relationship we have.  A dysfunctional relationship with the present moment will be reflected in a dysfunctional relationship with our self, with others, with the world, and with life.  But on the other hand, an embrace of the present moment opens us up to life and all we encounter.”

4. Embrace the mystical imagination within you

Our self, our neighbors and our locality will be the recipients of a colonial expression of faith if we do not cultivate a healthy relationship with the present moment through silence and solitude.  A healthy relationship with the present moment opens up the mystical imagination among us.

5. Become aware of the ecology of relationship

It causes the mystical imagination to come alive within us.  And this will affect the ecology of relationship in the place we live.  This ecology of relationship will affect all that we are.

6. Go to solitary places often

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place…” (Mark 1:35). 

I believe Christ practiced silence and solitude because he was cultivating a healthy relationship with the present moment in his life.  It affected all his relationships.  It gave him solidarity with others.

Jesus understood the ecology of his relationship with others in the present moment.  That is why he practiced silence and solitude.  It was a part of his passion.

7. Appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now

Thich Nhat Hanh states, “Our true home is in the present moment.  To live in the present moment is a miracle.  The miracle is not to walk on water.  The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.  Peace is all around us – in the world and in nature – and within us – in our bodies and our spirits.  Once we learn to touch this peace we will be healed and transformed.  It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.  We need only to find ways to bring our body and mind back to the present moment so we can touch what is refreshing, healing, and wondrous.”

8. Find your home and identity in your local community

We need to become connected to the present moment in our local community as the body of Christ in everyday life.  This is our home.  This is our identity.  This is where the true self is discovered.

9. Practice the liberation and freedom of gratitude

It is an on-the-ground miracle to embody living in the present moment in the place we live.  This is where all beauty is found within and around us.  When our bodies become rooted in the present moment we experience an ongoing sense of freedom, liberation and gratitude.

How do you relate to the present moment?  Are you uneasy?  Anxious?  Peaceful?  Tired?  Rested?  Content?  Unhappy?  Disillusioned?

5 Ways to Reimagine Everything

Abstract, metal doors with built-in blinds, green glow.

Life can be so depressing sometimes.  I find myself in the midst of giving up on my dreams, struggling with anxiety and dealing with emotional pain.  So how does someone find some sense of hope in the midst of all of this?  I don’t really know, but I am trying to reimagine everything in the light of the possibilities of life.

The imagination is a powerful function with ourselves that can inspire us to be our true selves in ways that might be hard to comprehend.  I have found my imagination teasing out life within me in so many ways recently.

Showing kindness to a friend in the midst of conflict, giving my time to someone who needs a person to be with them without trying to fix anything, spending many hours in silence and solitude when I could be out doing something “more productive,” being vulnerable in asking forgiveness when I have made mistakes that affect other people and encouraging others through compassionate words in the midst of my pain are some things I have practiced reimagining.

Here are 5 ways we can further practice reimagining everything.

1. Learn from the past and unburden ourselves from the future

Our freedom is embodied in the ways we learn from our past as we reimagine the present and unburden ourselves from the future.  When we examine the shape of our lives together through reflection and rest, we are free to reimagine.  We constantly reimagine the present.  This pushes us into moments of reimagining the possibilities of life.

2. Embrace the present moment

Our reflection and rest is always manifested in our reimagining everything.  We will celebrate the past and learn from it.  We will reimagine what God has for us in the present and the days to come.

3. Allow our tomorrows and yesterdays to bring out the life of Christ within us

Through reflection and rest, we will free ourselves to work through our anxieties and regrets.  We will live into the mystical imagination in the parish.  Our tomorrows will not be so bad and our yesterdays we can learn from.  Our tomorrows and yesterdays speak to us through the mystical imagination in reflection and rest.  Our tomorrows and yesterdays can bring out the life of Christ within us in our local community.

4. Do not be afraid of examining the shape of our lives

Examining the shape of our lives together can be one of our greatest hopes as the body of Christ in the parish.  We cannot be afraid of this mirror.  We must look into the mirror and stare into our own eyes to find what is being authentically embodied within us.

5. Do not let our regrets, deficits and anxieties hold us back

Our regrets, deficits and anxieties will not hold so much weight for us as we practice examining the shape of our lives together.  In the process, we will create a new sense of Christ consciousness within us.  We will find the enjoyment of sharing life together through our everyday experiences more powerful than any other emotional state we find ourselves in.

Becky Garrison states, “Can I really not worry about my life and put all my trust in God?”

How can I start to reimagine my everyday life?


Living into a Reflective Way of Life   


A deep, reflective way of life in which I find an abiding rest in the things I do is so essential for my functioning in a healthy way that is respectful to the sacredness of all of life in the world.  When this breaks down in me, I usually become more isolated and depressed inside.  And this is not what God is calling me to in everyday life together with others.

I find myself longing for rest, reflection, silence, solitude and peace.  These are hard to come by in a fast society that is pushing me to make more money at the expense of the interior life.  The interior life might frighten us at first because we are not used to living in this center, but this is where our salvation is worked out in everyday life.  Without the interior life, we are shells of empty words and our actions will soon manifest into a colonial violence that goes on unconsciously.

  •  The process of becoming human

Our courage could help us in the process of becoming human, like Christ, in the place we inhabit together.  To be like Christ is to become human.  To be like Christ is to embody courage.

  •  To be like Christ

To be like Christ is to practice reflection and rest in our humanity.  To be like Christ is to be present to our local community, to live in our local community and to love our local community.  Christ was alive in his local community in the world and we should be too.

  •  More need of our weakness

Marva J. Dawn says, “God has more need of our weakness than our strength…  By our union with Christ in the power of the Spirit in our weaknesses, we display God’s glory.”

  •  Called to be an expression of love

Loving our neighbors in the parish is why we practice refection and rest.  This is how we become human.  This is how we love God in the place we inhabit together.  There is no way around this.  We are called to be an expression of love.

  •  God cannot escape us in the form of our neighbors

Our reflection and rest is only authentic if we love our neighbors in everyday life together.  Within our locality, God cannot escape us in the form of our neighbors.  Our neighbors are all around us.  God is working within us and all around us constantly.

  •  This mysterious working in and around us

Our humanity becomes sensitive to this mysterious working in and around us.  Our reflection and rest helps us to reimagine this mystery.  Our reflection and rest embraces God through the diverse faces of our neighbors.  This is the way of Jesus.  This is the path of wisdom.

  •  Seeing all that lies hidden

Ken Gire in his book Seeing What is Sacred writes, “To better love God and other people is the goal of the reflective life.  But before we can love them, we must see them.  And we must see them not as we would like to see them or as they would like to be seen.  We must see them as they are.  Otherwise we don’t love the person.  We love the image we perceive the person to be.  If we are to love people as they are, we must see them as they are.  Which means seeing all that lies hidden within them.”

Do you practice a reflective way of life?

To Embrace Gentleness in All Things


I am going through a season in my life where being gentle with myself is important.  After being tired from living by my condemning mind that wants to put on me guilt and shame constantly for not measuring up to some ideal standard I hold within myself, I am done with all of that.  I now want to be gentle within myself no matter what.

  • Gentleness is what I strive after

Gentleness is what I strive after, not some rough judgment from my intellect.  I want my body to heal and learn to not fear what is within me.  Discovering my true self will not happen without being gentle.  Holding life, God, myself and others gently is what I need in this time.

  • A crazy dream

I had a crazy dream the other day that kind of freaked me out.  Here is the recap.  In my dream I woke up to find a heavy weight on me and I couldn’t move.  This scarred me so I kept repeating to myself, “The kingdom of God is within you.”

  • It was all in my dream

I was afraid to open my eyes so I didn’t.  Eventually I fell back to sleep and it was over.  When I woke up in the morning, it seemed so real.  But I think it was all in my dream.

  • Trying to process the fear within me

Not completely understanding the dream I asked a couple of friends about what they thought.  Some said that maybe my unconscious might be trying to process the fear within me that is keeping me from living into my true self.  And as I have had lots of struggles with fear in my life, this seems like it might have something to say to me.

  • The kingdom of God is within you

I have been thinking a lot about the teaching of Jesus that says the kingdom of God is within you.  The kingdom of God is within you, what a profound thought!  Half of the time I do not believe it or embrace it.  Maybe this dream is calling me to be more open to this way of life where I believe that the kingdom of God is within me.

  • Living into my depths might take too much courage

Maybe the kingdom of God within you has to do with gentleness, love, compassion, grace, joy, peace, beauty, courage and deeper enlightenment.  Am I scarred to enter into a gentleness toward myself and others in everyday life?  Living into my depths might take too much courage that I don’t think I have.

  • A deeper inner awakening

But maybe God is calling me to a deeper inner awakening that is found in being gentle without fear keeping me from my depths.  Gentleness is beautiful and full of life.  In the midst of a violent society, gentleness is subversive.  As a man, gentleness is looked at as a weakness because men are supposed to be strong showing no sense of vulnerability.  But gentleness is vulnerable, kind, loving and compassionate.

  • This gentleness all starts within myself first

And this gentleness all starts within myself first before it can be an expression to others in the world.  If I cannot be gentle with myself, I will not be gentle to others in any way.  Gentleness may be my salvation as I learn to value myself as created in the image of God.

How have you experienced gentleness in your life?

11 great quotes from the book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr  

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1. The creation and maintenance of first-half-of-life issues

“Almost all of culture, and even most of religious history, has been invested in the creation and maintenance of first-half-of-life issues: the big three concerns of identity, security, and sexuality and gender.  They don’t just preoccupy us; they totally take over.  That is where history has been up to now, I am afraid.  In fact most generations have seen boundary marking and protecting those boundaries as their primary and sometimes only task in life.  Most of history has been the forging of structures of security and appropriate loyalty symbols, to announce and defend one’s personal identity, one’s group, and one’s gender issues and identity.  Now we seem to live in a time when more and more people are asking, ‘Is this all there is?’”  

2. To live in the now that is given

“All that each of us can do is to live in the now that is given.  We cannot rush the process; we can only carry out each stage of our lives to the best of our ability…”

3. We do not know how to hold creative tensions

“Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well.  Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions.  We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us.  This is not the way of wisdom, and it is the way that people operate in the first half of life.”  

4. Imposing tragedies on others

“One could say that the tragedy, the ‘goat stories’ of racism, slavery, sexism, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the two World Wars, all of which emerged in and were tolerated by Christian Europe, are a stunning manifestation of our disillusionment and disgust with ourselves and one another, when we could not make the world right and perfectly ordered, as we were told it should be.  We could not love the imperfection within ourselves or the natural world, so how could we possibly build any bridges toward Jews, Muslims, people of color, women, sinners, or even other Christians?  None of them fit into the ‘order’ we had predecided on.  We had to kill, force, imprison, torture, and enslave as we pursued our colonization of the rest of the world, along with the planet itself.  We did not carry the cross, the tragic sense of life, but we became expert instead at imposing tragedies on others.  Forgive my anger, but we must say it.”

5. One’s present comfort zone in life

“There is no practical or compelling reason to leave one’s present comfort zone in life.  Why should you or would you?  Frankly, none of us do unless and until we have to…”

6. A creation of your own mind and attachments

“Your false self is your role, title, and personal image that is largely a creation of your own mind and attachments.  It will and must die in exact correlation to how much you want the Real.  ‘How much false self are you willing to shed to find your True Self?’ is the lasting question.  Such necessary suffering will always feel like dying…”

7. As we learn to draw upon our deepest inner life

“We never ‘create’ or earn the Spirit; we discover this inner abiding as we learn to draw upon our deepest inner life…”

8. Becoming fully and consciously who we already are

“Life is a matter of becoming fully and consciously who we already are, but it is a self that we largely do not know…”

9. People who have no inner struggles are invariably both superficial and uninteresting

“One of the great surprises is that humans come to full consciousness precisely by shadowboxing, facing their own contradictions, and making friends with their own mistakes and failings.  People who have no inner struggles are invariably both superficial and uninteresting.  We tend to endure them more than communicate with them, because they have little to communicate.  Shadow work is almost another name for falling upward.”

10. More calm and contemplative seeing

“More calm and contemplative seeing does not appear suddenly, but grows almost unconsciously over many years of conflict, confusion, healing, broadening, loving, and forgiving reality…”

11. Failure and suffering are the great equalizers

“Failure and suffering are the great equalizers and levelers among humans.  Success is just the opposite.  Communities and commitment can form around suffering much more than around how wonderful or superior we are…  There is a strange and even wonderful communion in real human pain, actually much more than in joy, which is too often manufactured and passing.  In one sense, pain’s effects are not passing, and pain is less commonly manufactured.  Thus it is a more honest doorway into lasting communion than even happiness.”

Have you read Falling Upward?

3 Peter Rollins Books that You Must Read

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1. The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith

Dogma, doctrine and tradition are questioned as Peter Rollins uses the metaphor of the magic trick to expose the illusion of what he calls the sacred-object.  Religion needs to disappear so we can find, not a fictional satisfaction in God, but an authentic life that reappears as engagement in the world.  What we are looking for in God that will make us whole is not there and never has been.  So what we are left with is a spirituality of confusion, risk, uncertainty and insecurity as this leads us to find what is authentic within the world.

  • To destroy the scapegoat mechanism

“In order to destroy the scapegoat mechanism, a different strategy must be adopted.  Instead of trying to create a community where there is no outsider, the real answer lies in understanding that there is a sense in which we are all outsiders.  In concrete terms, this means that a community faces its own lack, rather than ignoring it and thus creating a scapegoat who must carry it.”

  • A melancholy that creeps into every crevice of our lives

“The desire that is generated by the pursuit of something we believe will make us whole creates a melancholy that creeps into every crevice of our lives, even poisoning our happiness.”

  • A different way of understanding faith

“…there is a different way of understanding faith that operates outside the realm of meaning making.  This is a type of faith against faith.  A faith that involves us.  One that is full of risk and uncertainty.”

  • Those who hide their lack under a fiction of wholeness

“The point then is to help break the false distinction between the idea that there are those who are whole and those who have a lack.  For the true distinction is between those who hide their lack under a fiction of wholeness and those who are able to embrace it.”


2. The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction

Certainty and satisfaction are exposed as the Idolatry of God.  We are so attached to finding in our perceptions of God certainty and satisfaction that we cannot find an authentic spirituality anymore.  In this book, Peter Rollins says that we have created an Idolatry of God through our addiction to certainty and satisfaction.

  • Freedom from the pursuit of what we believe will satisfy us

“But there is another, more radical form of freedom hinted at in the Gospels – not the freedom to pursue what we believe will satisfy us, but the freedom from the pursuit of what we believe will satisfy us.”

  • You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction

“Here we start to approach what can be called the Good News of Christianity: You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction.”

  • The loving embrace of this world

“In the Gospels we are presented with the image of a man who was at one with life, himself, and his surroundings.  One who spoke out against those who would seek to keep people enslaved in Idolatry and told stories that always subverted the certainties of the day.  It is in the aftermath of the Crucifixion that we are able to understand that the God revealed in Christ is found in the loving embrace of this life and a rejection of all that would turn us away from this.”


3. Insurrection: To Believe is Human To Doubt, Divine

Through using doubt to demonstrate an authentic spirituality, Peter Rollins has written an amazing book here!  We need to embrace our humanity fully.  Living in our fictional certainty without embracing the doubt that opens up our deep questions within us is not wise.  Insurrection leads us on a path to living into our questions, embracing doubt as divine and fully embodying our humanity in the world we live in.

  • Radical doubt, suffering, and the sense of divine forsakenness

“Radical doubt, suffering, and the sense of divine forsakenness are central aspects of Christ’s experience and thus a central part of what it means to participate in Christ’s death.  The moment we feel the loss of all that once gave us meaning is not a time in which we are set free from Christ, nor is it a moment where we fall short of Christ: It is the time when we stand side by side with Christ.”

  • To fully and unreservedly embrace our humanity

“The Incarnation tells us that if we want to be like God, then we must be courageous enough to fully and unreservedly embrace our humanity.”

  • Help create a world where the poor do not exist

“But what if our real job is not to give to those who are poor but to help create a world where the poor do not exist?”

  • Theological materialism

“Christianity can be described as a theological materialism: It is that which transforms our material existence.  If our faith does not throw us into the arms of the world, if it does not lead to our experience of responsibility, love, celebration, and our commitment to transformation, then, whatever we call it, we have nothing but an empty shell.”


Have you read any of these wonderful books?

13 Ways Being Rooted and Linked is Empowering

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As I have lived in community in my local context for quite some time now, I am finding that being rooted in a particular place as well as being linked to other places is important to my way of life.  How my imagination grows as I am exposed to different contexts where people are embodying love, grace, peace, justice, humility and compassion.  It is a mysterious thing to encounter the body of Christ in other places that strengthens my own expression of love where I live and share life together with others.

Here are 13 ways that being rooted and linked can empower us.

1. Will bring about a parish imagination

A movement of locality that is rooted and linked will bring about the parish imagination.  We must inhabit our neighborhood as a counterculture together.  We must experience locality as a movement working within us, shaping us, guiding us, leading us in the parish.

2. Is a protest against the empire of America  

This movement of locality is subversive toward the empire that we live under.  Corporate power loses its grip on us as we embrace this locality movement.  Living locally is a protest, in a way, against the empire of America.

3. We stop believing in the dominant framing story

If we banded together to live locally and became rooted and linked, over time, we could rise to become a holistic counterculture that would quietly threaten the powerful empire before us.  We would stop believing in the dominant framing story of the empire and seek an alternative parish imagination in our local community.  We would live by a different narrative that is much more holistic than the one that has dominated us for so long.

4. We live out the teachings of Christ together  

The teachings of Christ will only be lived out locally together.  Christ’s teachings are always about what is before us locally and relationally.  We cannot separate the teachings of Christ from the local, everyday life of daily living together in the parish.

5. Is essential to partnership with God in the world

Christianity was meant to be a movement among us of the parish imagination.  So being rooted and linked is essential to partnership with God in the world.  God works through the parish imagination as a movement of locality.

6. We become a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbalances  

Michael Frost in his book Exiles says, “The Christian movement must be the living, breathing promise to society that it is possible to live out the values of Christ – that is, to be a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbalances in the empire…”

7. Teaches us the wisdom of shared life together

It is possible to live our lives authentically together in our local context.  The parish imagination is leading us to this.  The parish imagination does not fear empire.  Being rooted and linked will teach us the wisdom of the parish imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

8. We become practitioners that resist what is impersonal and abstract

We need to resist the abstract by becoming practitioners in our local community.  The parish imagination resists what is impersonal and abstract.  A movement of locality will cause us to become practitioners who are rooted and linked.  This embodies our love into the local context we find ourselves in.  This causes us to listen deeply in the parish.

9. We make our lives more intimate, local, connected and authentic

Robert Inchausti says in his fascinating book Subversive Orthodoxy, “Will we make our lives more impersonal, global, abstract, and artificial or more intimate, local, connected, and authentic?…” 

A movement of locality causes us to become more connected and authentic in everyday life.  The abstract will get us nowhere.  The abstract will lead us to noplace.

10. Keeps us from deconstruction without imagination

The abstract will lead us to dislocation.  Being rooted and linked through a movement of locality will help us not to get trapped in the box of the abstract.  The abstract will only lead us to deconstruction without imagination.

We don’t need anymore of that!  We need more of a parish imagination that is rooted and linked.  We need a movement of locality that spreads throughout the land with great imagination!

11. We repent of the kind of Christianity we have created

I believe we need to repent of the kind of Christianity we have created that has abandoned the practice of shared life in our local community.  We have abandoned a movement of locality and turned Christianity into something that is abhorred and distorted.

We have seen no need for the parish imagination.  We have ignored being rooted and linked.  We have a Christianity without Christ who had real face-to-face relationships with his neighbors in a local context.

Brian D. McLaren says, “…we are beginning to reassess and repent of the actual versions and formulations of the faith we have created…” 

12. We create something that is embodied and authentic

We have created this, but we can create something much different into the future that is more authentic.  We can create something together that is much more relational in the parish.  We can create together a Christianity that embodies the parish imagination.

13. Loving our neighbors becomes important to our practice

We can create a Christianity together where loving our neighbors is important in the local context of the parish.  We can create together a Christianity where being rooted and linked is important to us in everyday life.  I hope for the day that this becomes a reality!

What is your perspective on being rooted and linked?