Online Class “Prayer for Pastors” and a Special Opportunity for Small Church Pastors!

Kneeling with Giants - cover

Update, Friday 9/12: Only FOUR TWO spots left in this class! Just TWO ONE scholarship left! Act now -- class starts Monday 9/15... The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, is again offering my five-week online continuing education course "Prayer for Pastors" beginning September 15. It is open to ministers of all kinds, but this time around I am offering a limited … [Read more...]

Finding a Life-Giving Approach to the Bible (part 7, conclusion): Process & Goal

Paris Art Deco, by Sandra Cohen-Rose, under cc license

And so we come to the end of the classic book on lectio divina by Guigo II (d. 1188), The Ladder of Monks. The idea of a ladder is key to understanding his approach to the Bible -- despite all the food metaphors I've noted in these posts. He might have done better still with a spiral staircase, but The Spiral Staircase of Monks is not nearly so catchy. And he didn't ask … [Read more...]

Augustinian Soul Music!

Sam Rocha, Late to Love, on Wiseblood Records

Funny things happen in the world of the internet. August 28th was the feast day of St. Augustine, so I sent out last year's post on the influential theologian via Facebook and Twitter. For whatever reason it got far more attention than when I first posted it. Recycling can be fun. The best thing, though, was that Sam Rocha, whom I've never met, tweeted me back. Rocha is … [Read more...]

Finding a Life-Giving Approach to the Bible (part 6): Contemplate Upon It

Roof Ladder (Porvoo, Finland) by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho (cc license)

Contemplation is when the mind is in some sort lifted up to God and held above itself, so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness." That is Guigo II (d. 1188) talking about the fourth and final step of lectio divina, the spiritual reading of Scripture. In his classic little book he compares the process to a ladder, and this is the top rung. When I was a … [Read more...]

Why Reformed Theology? (via Heidelberg Catechism Q. 18)

Christ Pantocrator (photo by Waiting for the Word, cc license)

I find Christian faith coherent, intellectually rigorous, and deeply soul-satisfying. Why? Probably because I have been fed a hearty diet of Reformed Theology. I did my doctoral dissertation on John Calvin, the Reformed theologian who shaped the tradition more than any other. For a good long while I've regularly taught the theological summaries that make up the … [Read more...]

My Nominee for “MIP” of the Middle Ages: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Francisco Ribalta - Christ Embracing St Bernard; public domain via Wikimedia Commons

I don't know if there is a competition for "Most Interesting Person" in the Middle Ages, but today I'd like to nominate St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). August 20 is his feast day. What a rich and varied influence he had. He was a shaker and mover in the Cistercian monastic reform. Clearly his gifts were visible from the start: after only three years as a monk he was … [Read more...]

Finding a Life-Giving Approach to the Bible (part 4): Meditate On It

Dein Steak ist wuschelig und voller Neugier, by Brigitte Mackscheidt, cc license

Raise your hand if the word "meditation" brings to mind images of someone trying to empty their mind of every thought. Okay, how many of you think of "meditation" as repeating a mantra -- a secret word in a language you don't actually understand? What about option three: When you hear "meditation" how many of you think of a cow? Seriously. You SHOULD think of a cow. At … [Read more...]

A New View of Contemplative Prayer, from St. Clare of Assisi

Brother Sun, Sister Moon on Amazon

I first knew of St. Clare of Assisi (c. 1193-1254) through one of my favorite films: Franco Zeffirelli's Brother Son, Sister Moon (1972). I was totally smitten by Judi Bowker's portrayal of the young noblewoman who risked all to live in poverty with St. Francis, joining him in serving Christ in the poor. Today is her feast day. I want to share some of St. Clare's thoughts on … [Read more...]

Finding a Life-Giving Approach to the Bible (part 3): Read It

Foundation, by ArmchairBuilder.com, cc license

The subtitle here is not a snarky Nike-influenced oversimplification: "Just read it." No. I am referring to the first step of the process in medieval monastic spiritual reading, the foundation of "lectio divina." Simply reading the Bible, opening at Genesis and pressing on to Revelation, is an excellent practice, of course, though a challenging one for many. But that is not … [Read more...]