Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shadowing God cover/proof

getting old is lame

i miss myself at 20

just the physical bits really, not the smart(er)-ass bits.

i miss not having to worry about hair - either losing it up top or greenhousing it somewhere else

i miss not having to worry about what i eat

i miss not having to think about how much exercise i'm getting

i miss not having to wonder if my human heart really is capable of popping because of things like french fries

i miss not having to wonder if too much coffee can cause stones, or too many sour patch kids can cause cavities, or if pipe smoke is more or less harmful than breathing in the fumes from a 747.

i miss being able to eat dougnuts at 2am, wake up at 6am to lift weights and run, before drinking coffee to 20 hours straight so i can see carmel

now i eat a dougnut at 2am on January 4th and still regret it monday, august 30th ay 7pm because i think it'll probably be the one that gives me cancer...or is it glaucoma...or is it a big bum...or is it all 3, i can never keep it straight.

ronald rolheiser speaks intelligently about mourning the death of our youth and sexual attractiveness. tomorrow i'm going to hinkleys to grieve myself with a jelly roll.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stuff: a new editor, a new jeep, a new mortgage

My friend - and usual editor - Caleb is on vacation with his family right now, so his friend Mike Morrell (zoecarnate.wordpress.com) is filling in and editing "shadowing god" for westwinds. Working with a new editor is always a bit nerve-wracking - will they retain the voice and tone i want, while correcting the mistakes i've made, etc - but the most nerve-wracking part of any westwinds' project is the deadline.

We make lots of great stuff quickly, and if you miss a deadline, chances are we've already moved onto the next project.

We put out.

Anyway, Mike seems like a decent guy and I'm sure he'll do all that's required to get this book to the printer, and into the lobby, on time.


At the end of my sabbatical i sold my land rover and bout a 2007 jeep wrangler. I loved the land rover - the "disco" to my kids and "eileen" to everyone else - but all used cars are ticking bombs and we were nervous this one was about to go off.

I love the new jeep - wihch my kids have dubbed "the bullet"

I am looking for a hardtop for it, so please keep your eyes peeled. The 2007 and newer wranglers have a special hard top, the "freedom top"' and i'm trying to find one for $1000 or less (for thqt price, it will need to be used).


This week marked the closing of our new mortgage. We got a better rate, lower monthly payment, and fewer years in exchange for a horrible experience, arrogant customer service, and generally dehumanizing treatment.

I hate 53rd bank, and almost didn't sign the mortgage just to spite them, but in the end it was just easier to save the money and resent the bank.

The thing i miss most about canada is the banks. I've often joked that america is the "land of the fee" and the "home of the bank" and i felt that acutely this week.

Still,, i shouldn't complain, i will save some money; but it always feels like you're trading away a part of yourself when you do business with people who treat you like an integer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

how's the writing coming?

bit rough, thanks for asking.

this is the first time i've written an atlas with absolutely no notes. none. i have one folded piece of paper with about 10 words on it that has served as my coaster for both pipe and cup, but no notes.

which means i'm mining memory and meme for every conceivable brilliance.

if, in the end, it's anything other than fantastically awesome, i want you to lie to me :)

Monday, August 23, 2010


a few years ago i signed a book contract with a christian publisher for a project called "jerm."

it was my attempt to try and make sense of christian spirituality for the layperson - to try and take the wisdom of the ancients (spanish mystics, desert fathers, etc) and colloquialize them into the language of 21st century southern michigan.

i just felt (and still feel) that most of the writing on spiritual formation is written by a certain kind of personality for a certain kind of personality, and if you're going to get much out of it you're probably going to have to hate sports and begin listening to folk music.

but the interior life is so important - the teachings of john chrysostom, athanasius, john of the cross, theresa of avila need to be understood and incorporated by normal folk.

but normal folks are never going to be able to read that stuff.

so i wrote jerm

my first draft was just shy of 300 pages.

during a long and frustrating process, i lost the contract with the publisher and jerm was never published.

fast forward 3 years and i am now writing the september teaching atlas for the good folks at the winds. i'm (re)writing jerm, now called "shadowing god."

after revisions and cuttings and clippings and rewritings...i'm left with 34 pages of the original manuscript.

to be fair, at least 2/3 of the jerm manuscript i discarded simply because i didn't like the direction in which the publisher had nudged me; so, probably i've only pared down the manuscript from 100 pages or so into 34.

but still...

anyway, suffice to say this book has been long in the making. my ambitions for the project remain the same: i want people to know how to live the life for which god intended them.

not following steps or using 7 easy keys,
but walking with the spirit
paying attention to nuance
and looking for signs of god's activity in the world.

and then following suite
and shadowing god

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Couldn't sleep a wink

Today is my first time back teaching after my sabbatical, and i was up all night thinking about it. I've been preaching and teaching in prettyt much every conceivable environment for 15 years, so you'd think i wouldn't get nervous anymore, but i still do.

Every time.

Especially after an extended absence.

Still, it's times like these that i'm reminded that the preacher is less important than the Word. That's a pretty good reminder, i suppose, regardless of your vocation.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Is there a better way to talk about the interior life?

I'm getting ready to lock myself in my office and write the long-in-the-making "shadowing god" book. It's kind of my whole take on what it means to be spiritual, how to live in the spirit, and how to be guided and governed by christ in real life.

But writing this book raises a common concern for me; namely, how can we talk about being led by the spirit in every moment without sounding like either john wimber (who seems only to appeal to hippies), henry nouwen (who seems only to appeal to monks and nuns), or joyve meyer (who seems only to appeal to charismatic women over 40)?

I should qualify...i personally love the writings of all 3 of the aforementioned, but i'm probably not representative of most young fathers.

So, how can we talk about being led by the spirit in ways that make sense to the financier? The football coach? The graphic designer? The math professor?

The great spiritual writers of the last several hundred years have all seemed to come from the same basic personality and social predisposition. None of them resemble the jocular monk from "chasing francis." its impossible to find a clever wink, a knowing smile, or a mischievious chortle. And yet, from my own experience and the myriad of colorful folks i've been privleged to meet, i know you can be governed by the spirit and still laugh til your blue in the face, sing poorly (yet boisterously) in the face of dispair, and enjoy good meals with new friends while learning more and more and more of the goodness of God.

So where is all of that in the compendium of christian spirituality?

And how can i bring it in a simple little book i'm writing for my church?

Time will tell, and - hopefully - so will "shadowing god"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back in the Saddle

After 10 fantastic weeks with my family on sabbatical i have just returned to work at the winds. I love it here.

A few words about the sabbatical...first, it was an excellent time of rest and recovery. I read no theology, did no studying, and the only work i did was on my house. I slept in every day, stayed up late with carmel every night, allowed my kids to stay up late while we all read "the hobbit" or watched nickelodeon's "avatar: the last airbende" and took as many naps as possible.

God was pleased.

This was also the perfect family time. Everything we did (with the exception of a week in vegas) we did with our kids. It was cool to live life as if i were 6 years old again. Everything was wonderful. I love toys.

And now i'm back at work - and i'm very happy about it. During our time away Carmel and i were both filled with an incredible thankfulness. We have a fantastic life, a great family, and there is nowhere else i would rather serve Jesus than at Westwinds in Jackson.

God is good, all the time.

More later...maybe :)