Blog Archives


I was asked about what the “detour” in last week’s traffic metaphor represented, so I thought I’d share a little more about my personal journey with you lovely readers.

When my friend and I decided to spend Ash Wednesday at a monastery a few years ago, we didn’t have smart phones yet.  We didn’t have GPS or navigation systems in our cars.  We were low-tech.  We pulled up Google Maps or Map Quest or some such website, located the monastery, and printed out the designated route.  We climbed in the car on the morning of our journey, complete with print-out directions in hand, and headed on our way…only to be stopped on our journey after the first 45 minutes by a police car blocking the route.

After about 20 minutes sitting in a line of cars waiting for the mountain passage to open, we finally got out to stretch our legs and trade pleasantries with the other drivers.  That’s when we found out that the route mapped out in our printed-out directions was outdated.  We were told that we couldn’t get to the monastery from the road we had chosen.  The road up ahead had been destroyed in a fire and never repaired.  We would have to back-track down the mountain and find a different route.

Sometimes in life, we experience road blocks.  Sometimes these are obstacles in our lives that need to be overcome.  For me, the road block was a kind of last-ditch effort to get me to realize I had been pursuing the wrong path.  The path of doing and achievement and busy-ness that had so filled up my every waking moment (and most of my sleeping ones) was heading me toward a cliff.  The road had washed out up ahead and if I didn’t stop now, I would crash over the edge.

I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go by the path I had chosen. I had to back-track down the mountain and find a different route. I had to take the detour.

My detour looks a lot like back-tracking.  It looks a lot like stalling out.  It looks a lot like having run out of gas, again.  It looks a lot like taking the surface streets when the highway would be faster.  It looks a lot like taking the scenic route.  It looks a lot like taking the “long-cut” instead of the shortcut.

My detour looks a lot like the wrong way.

My detour is the path to contemplative prayer, to the compassionate way of life, to the spiritual practice of —, to the life of love.  My detour is the path of counter-cultural living. It’s the path to slowing down and learning to rest.  It’s the path to listening and watching before daring to speak.  It’s the path to finding my voice by listening to the Voice of Love.  It’s the path to being brave. It’s the path to everything my heart desires.  It’s the path to God.

My detour is not the shortest distance between to points. It’s anything but.  Yet my detour is not really a detour at all.  It isn’t a temporary way around the dangerous construction until I can safely be on my hurried way again.  It is in fact the road through a junkyard where I can leave my car and continue the way on foot, hiking a narrow, unmarked path into the wilderness with nothing but a compass and the promise of manna.

My detour is not a temporary displacement. It is a permanent re-routing. It is a change in perspective, a paradigm shift. It is the opportunity to slow down, open my eyes and ears, and become attentive to the movement and activity of the Divine Presence in my life.

Attentiveness means respecting, attending to, waiting on, looking at and listening to the other — the persons and things that we encounter — for what they are in themselves, not what we can make of them….[Attentiveness] involves a letting go of our usual need to control, an opening of ourselves to what we are being told or shown….[This attentiveness] frees and transforms. – Leighton Ford, The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things

I am becoming a listenerI am on the detour that is the only path to the rest of my life.

Come hiking with me.


I Gave Up BEING AWAKE for Lent!

I’m excited to have my friend Jenn Cannon guest posting this week.  She’s going to be sharing some of her journey with fasting and healthy living in light of the Lenten season.  Before I turn my blog over to her, I thought I’d prime the pump, so to speak, by sharing some of my thoughts on Lent and body theology.

I never knew much about Lent growing up.  My church didn’t really follow the church calendar outside of Christmas and Easter, and I only knew about Ash Wednesday from my Catholic friend.  I was in college before I was ever encouraged to “give something up for Lent.”  That first year, I followed my friends’ lead and gave up sweets.  I lost eleven pounds in time for Easter Sunday (oh my, what a sweet tooth I had, especially with unlimited soft serve in the dining hall!), but I missed entirely the spiritual purpose of preparing my heart and mind for the celebration of the resurrection.

A couple of years back, I gave up driving for Lent.  I could, because I lived close enough to walk pretty much everywhere I needed to go.  Walking has always been a spiritual experience for me, although to be fair, I usually prefer to walk in nature than along busy city streets. For the first time, during that season, I sought the spiritual side of Lent and allowed myself to experience the loss of my car and enjoy the presence of God on my daily journeys.

The next year, I stayed overnight at a monastery on Ash Wednesday and learned the spiritual practice of silence. It was a painful time for me, and learning to be silent and still became disciplines I will always carry with me.  I wrote a little about my experience at the monastery here.

Giving up BEING AWAKE for Lent

This year, Lent sort of sneaked up on me, and I wasn’t sure I would give up anything at all.  But I’ve been uncommonly tired in the last few months, and recently I’ve been pressuring myself to get out of bed and be productive again.  Today I decided (a little late, I know) to give up this spirit of doing for Lent and practice being.

Giving up doing for Lent may not sound very applicable to body theology, but it really is.  Our western society is collectively sleep-deprived.  While most people sleep an average of six hours per night, most people need eight or nine hours.  That means most people are living on two or three hours of sleep fewer per night than their bodies really need to function properly.

Last week, after a super-fun sleep study and nap study (during which I was sorely unable to do much of either), I met with my neurologist to find out that my body most likely needs ten to twelve hours of sleep per night.  That’s two to four hours more sleep than most people need–and four to six hours more sleep than most people get!

So, for the rest of the Lenten season, I am going to be sleeping as close to ten hours a night as I can.  That means moving my work schedule from the morning to the early afternoon. That means going to sleep instead of squeezing in that extra Netflix episode.  That means allowing my body to receive the rest that it needs without pressuring myself to get up and be productive all day.  That means practicing the spiritual discipline of rest.

We’ll talk a little more about the theology of rest on Thursday.  For now, get ready to meet my new guest poster, Jenn Cannon.  It’s gonna be awesome!  Until then, I wish all you lovely readers peaceful sleep and pleasant dreams…..zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) In which I am on my soapbox about shame Has shame ever helped a woman? This is just the other side of that same “You’re not enough” coin.

2) The Secret Sexual Revolution If this generation wants to reverse the trend and reduce the number of Christians having premarital sex, the first step is trying to figure out why so few are waiting.

3) Clothing In Church: Why It Matters The way we dress is frequently an external expression of an internal reality, a way for “the body, or even the self, to communicate itself to society,” in the words of theologian Tom Beaudoin.

4) Sex Is A Big Deal And I Wish Someone Had Told Me No one ever talks about the casual dating and casual hook up aftermath. Instead, it is glamorized and a fun, sexy, effective fix-all.

5) Transfiguration and Beauty We offer the Lord these forty days because we believe God loves us. We believe that when we let go of control, we will see more clearly the movement and the beauty of Jesus.

6) The Secret Life of Hasidic Sexuality Actually, the main purpose of sex — as explained by Jewish law — is to create something called devek, best translated as an intense spiritual/emotional cleaving between the couple.

7) Veiled Muslim women and revolutionary modesty Whether we’re wearing hajibs or jeans or baggy t-shirts or mini-skirts, are our clothes making us slaves to patriarchy and consumerism?

8) Resurrection Spirituality And this kind of eschatology leads to body image problems now, not to mention lack of care with creation and lack of concern with any sense of salvation having to do with creation and cosmos and new creation.

9) When Your One Beauty Goes Gray But then there are the days when I find that pesky, out of place gray hair, and I wonder.  Will anyone love me with gray hair?  Will anyone think I’m beautiful if it was gone?

10) Dear Victims of Rape and Sexual Abuse No Shame. No Guilt. No Excuses. No Blame. No Heartache.

11) Phyllis Tickle & Doug Pagitt: Welcome to Ash Wednesday Of all the observances of Christianity, Lent is far and away the most physical, starting not with Ash Wednesday but with Mardi Gras. [The last minute is especially wonderful.]

12) Transgender kids get puberty-blocking drugs, sex-changing hormones; MDs say numbers are rising Switching gender roles…is common in young children. But these kids are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.

13) Seven states sue government over contraceptives mandate “This lawsuit is about protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience, our most basic freedoms as Americans.”

14) The Millennial Church: The Future of Christianity (Pt.5) At the heart of the loss of virginity before marriage lies a bigger issue in the eyes of millennials, morality/ethics.

15) ‘Am I Ugly?’ Videos: Young Teens Ask YouTube Users Whether They’re Pretty Or Not But, in a world of carefully curated Facebook profiles that put personal lives (and looks) at center stage…it’s perhaps unsurprising that young people are sharing their body image anxieties in such a forum.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Erasing Women: How Both Sides Contribute to the Media Blackout on Female Pro-Lifers But as all this happens—and it is happening, however slowly—mainstream institutions such as the media, the government, the schools, and the entertainment industry need to recognize that these women exist and have voices worth hearing.

2) The Final Freaking Rose. [H]ave we grown so apathetic to the human condition that we’ve turned Love into a gameshow?

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) there are a lot of ways to pastor [T]he world is crying out for more “pastors”, people who will bravely and freely extend Christ’s love, hope, care, mercy & justice in a broken & hurting world.

2) Mimi Haddad on Gender and Equality in the Church Now, you can hear more from Dr. Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality on gender and equality in the Church.

3) We Need the Full Vocabulary of God To my mind, the church today has impoverished itself by praying with and singing with and thinking with such a small set of the many images for God found in the Bible.

4) And Daniel Kirk Said This Too! How are we to assess these women who, in the narrative world, are outsiders, on the margins?

5) Our Problem is Authoritarianism and Not Legalism Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that a Christian, because of title or position, has moral authority over another Christian.

6) Male and Female God Made (Most Of) Them: Part 2 Christians cared for people no one else cared for.

7) When Church Becomes a Verb Instead of going to church to be fed, to be welcomed, to be loved, why don’t we go to church to feed, to welcome, to love?

8) A Little Grace for Masculine Christianity I am saying [masculine Christianity is] one way—it’s part of the truth, just as God’s more traditionally feminine qualities are part of the truth—and for some people it’s critical.

9) Women of valor at Truett Seminary I can’t help but smile to myself when I think about the fact that over the next ten years, those who think that women should be banned from church leadership will have to contend with the talents and enthusiasm of these women of valor!

10) Evangelical 2.0: The Deception of Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 Network Acts 29 commits itself to “…get behind the men (emphasis added) who are planting churches by…networking with men in different denominations and networks for the kingdom good of the city.”

11) Women in Ministry Series: All Are Invited to Talk I struggle as a woman in a conservative church. Do I stay and work for change? Or do I escape to enjoy freedom elsewhere?

12) What Diversity Should Look Like [T]he temptation is always to elevate your own experience over someone else’s. Within the Church, this can lead to conflict, division and sorrow. But those differences can also be the glory of God made manifest.

13) Is There a Place for Creative Christians? In community that is caring and healthy, an artist brings not only beauty and inspiration but also powerful observational skills and spiritual awareness.

14) Phyllis Tickle & Doug Paggit: The Physicality of Lent In the third installment of my conversation with Phyllis Tickle about Lent we talk about the physical nature of spirituality.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1) The Santorum Question: Should Theology Affect the Way We Vote? Faith and politics are enmeshed with each other in both vital and destructive ways.

2) Counting the Cost I have learned, however, that when you take these numbers and put them within context and place, these numbers actually tell a story.

3) Justice in Guatemala: Man Convicted for Raping His 15-Year-Old Daughter And the conviction sends a strong message to the entire community that sexual crimes against children will not be tolerated under the law.

4) A Savvy Peacemaker Building Across Missouri’s Race Lines The divide has resulted in tension between the African American community and the predominantly white authorities and social service agencies. Lawson sees his calling as bridging that gap.

5) The Significance of Linsanity Fortunately, the symbolism hasn’t been wasted; rather, it has turned into a fascinating conversation about the need for forgiveness and humility.

6) Role Reversal: The Problem of the Increasing Marginalization of Men And the Khasi men are experiencing the crippling prejudice, discrimination, and oppression that women throughout history have known all too well.

7) Haitian millionaire determined to build back better Now the 45-year-old is using his entrepreneurship to benefit communities uprooted by the devastating 2010 quake.

%d bloggers like this: