Once Upon a Time there was a House

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By Phyllis Tickle Anything that begins with such words as that usually carries with it the implicit promise that a tale is about to be told. “Once upon a time” rarely is a vehicle for conveying factual or objective truth. Rather, we have learned to read it as the set piece that introduces a bit of folk entertainment which, in the end, will leave us with a bit of folk wisdom forever wrapped in a memorable tale. All well and good and as it should be.   On the other hand, when a professional religionist begins something by saying, “Once upon a time,” there is the hesitant assumption that the forthcoming insight or wisdom will be less folk or common …

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The Easiest Way to Meditate

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By Jon Wortmann I worked recently with a client who said he hated to meditate, and it hit me: have we been making meditation too difficult?   To meditate is simply to focus the mind or to think deeply. Meditation can be the intentional letting go of all thoughts or the purposeful attention on a thought, like a prayer or mantra. We can mediate on our breathe. We can mediate while walking. We can meditate by imagining ourselves as a flowing river or by concentrating on a single image like a cloud.   Over the years I’ve taught athletes and executives, toddlers and teenagers, newbies and experienced spiritual leaders different ways to stay focused using various forms of meditation.   …

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The Five Mountains of Spiritual Growth

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By Greg Farrand St. Paul begins his first letter to the house churches of Corinth with a bang. Apparently there was significant tension, infighting, and conflict between church members. Paul, in his typical blunt style, tells them they are acting like babies… spiritual babies that need to grow up. He says, “Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready.“   The implications of Paul’s words are significant. This may seem obvious, but Paul is saying you can be a physically grown adult …

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God of 2050: Will the Church be Ready?

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By Jacinta White “So much of what we talk about with the emergent church has been about what’s happening now or how the church will need to change in the next 3-5 years, as if we’re working on a short-term strategic plan. Or, some who envision the church in 15-20 years. But what about society in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Superintelligence? And how will the church address the needs of that time? Needs we haven’t seen or imagined before?” On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in on the closing session of the two day A.M.E. Zion Board of Bishops Preaching Institute, held at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. If you’ve been reading this blog …

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Silence and Co-Creation

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An interview with a Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jonathan Franzen, struck me. When asked about his creative process, he said he wakes up in the morning and attempts to keep that stillness alive through breakfast. He does not read a newspaper or turn on the radio on the drive to work. He said he enters “a cold dark room” and sits in this sparseness until he can access the story deep inside him. He went on to say that we all could be so much more creative if we slowed down, eliminated the external noise and rested in our own hearts. What might I subtract from the outside in order to add to my life inside?

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Procastinating Co-Creation

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For the past two months, our washing machine has been unpredictable during the spin cycle. Sometimes it spins out the water and then other times it just stops without any spinning at all. Now-a-days we slowly open the lid to see what mood it is in. If in a “no-spin” situation, we look to the gauges at the top of the machine and try a different combination. Maybe this time putting the settings on small load with the second rinse and cold/cold will do the trick. If a combination works, we announce proudly to all family members that “it is fixed” and then we hold our breath. We know that we need to get a new washing machine but we …

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Father Meninger on Beauty and Co-Creation

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I attended a seminar on contemplation taught by William Meninger, a monk who leaves the monastery only a few times each year. He is nearly 80 years old, but he looks and sounds closer to 60. He glows. He said that we need to intentionally invite beauty into our lives in order to counteract all the “anti-beauty” that bombards us each day. He commented that reading sacred texts or a good novel, looking at a baby, or perhaps standing outside under a clear sky all count. Then he encouraged us to pause and reflect, with our hearts, on this beauty. Our usual response to beauty is a sigh or a “wow” and we feel glad and grateful for the experience. …

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Peeping Tom and Co-Creation

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On Sundays, sometimes we invite people over for a leisurely lunch. We get out the “real” china, cloth napkins and sit at the dining room table. My husband has befriended a woman who is homeless and he invited her over one Sunday for grilled vegetables. She brought a Hershey bar for dessert. During our lunch, she had moments of brilliance and other stretches of confused rambling. At one point she stopped and said that on the previous night that she had a dream of a peeping tom. When we asked for additional details she said: “It was Thomas Jefferson.” Then she told us that he was looking at the pictures she keeps with her at all times and he saw …

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Collaboration or Co-Creation

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On a break during a workshop I was conducting on servant leadership, a man came up to me and explained that his company had mandated a national policy of collaboration among the distributors. He complained bitterly that  “it was not working” and that most of the distributors were furious and resisting this new plan. He said: “This sounds like a fine idea on some levels but actually “doing it” is another matter. Plus we were never asked our opinion on this at all.” I recognized the mantra “sounds like a good idea BUT is it practical?” There are so many dilemmas here but mandating cooperation never works. When the initiative starts with coercion,  resistance results. Because collaboration about the collaboration was …

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Co-Creation with Our Children

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I was asked to speak to a group of moms—all of whom had young children. I asked them to tell us what question they were holding about being a parent. They said things like: “How to get my child to do his homework?” and “How can I get the siblings to play nicely with one another?” They seemed to want strategies to “control” the situation. I told them that the most important parenting strategy was to learn to be present to their own communication and to recognize how their own communication influences everything. I told them about the time our 4th grade daughter came into a room and I said something to her. She was silent for a minute and then …

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