Saturday, June 19, 2010


A big word, one used sparingly before postmodernism - epistemology refers to how we know what we claim to know.

Recently, in his insightful book Surprised by Joy, N.T. Wright reflects on Peter's encounter with Jesus in John 21, where Peter has gone back to his old way of life after betraying Jesus, and Jesus, well, He's reappearing as the firstborn of the resurrection:

"'It is love that believes the resurrection (Wittgenstein).' 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' There is a whole world in that question, a world of personal invitation and challenge, of the remaking of a human being after disloyalty and disaster, of the refreshing of epistemology itself, the question of how we know things, to correspond to the new ontology [Wright probably is referring here to Jesus now clothed in a resurrected body], the question of what reality consists of. The reality that is the resurrection cannot simply be 'known' from within the old world of decay and denial, of tyrants and torture, or disobedience and death. But that's the point. To repeat: the resurrection is not, as it were, a highly peculiar event within the present world; it is, principally, the defining event of the new creation, the world that is being born with Jesus. If we are even to glimpse this new world, let alone enter it, we will need a different kind of knowing, a knowing that involves us in new ways, an epistemology that draws out from us not just the cool appraisal of detached, quasi-scientific research but also that whole-person engagement and involvement for which the best shorthand is 'love,' in the full Johannine sense of agape." p. 73

In other words, we cannot know all we need to know by using the tools of the Enlightenment, modernism, logic, or empirical calculation. Some of what is essential for our true knowing of life, meaning, and the way things truly are will involve nothing less than love, a love that moves both vertically and horizontally. A love that follows the Spirit of God who insists we give up our illusions of control and instead devote ourselves to His Presence, which makes us alive because we come to believe first that our identity, hope, being and meaning arises because we are deeply loved by God. Only then have the portal through which resurrection, miracles, and life itself flows in instead of running out.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Wretched broken spirit
battered by human blows,
dead soul stranded in skin and bones,
pace pace pacing pacing anxious steps
in tired tiring retiring hopelessness
this terrified, unwanted dog

But love came by,
long healing love,
quiet seeping life into death,
down down downing downing death
in loved loving beloved hopefulness
this nephesh hayah, living soul

Big brown eyes stare up,
lean body leans in,
patient wordless glance into the Age coming
thank thank thanking thanking
in adored adoring adorable helpfulness
this dog, my dog

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul

“Through the dark night,
Pride become humility,
Wrath becomes contentment,
Greed becomes simplicity,
Luxury becomes peace,
Gluttony becomes moderation,
Envy becomes joy,
Sloth becomes strength.”

A found prayer from St. John of the Cross
Dark Night of the Soul

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Eleven years ago June 7th, Clyde McDowell died.

He was the most important Christian man in my life, writing major portions of the story of restoration God was crafting on my heart.

I miss him in the great unknowing that attends me often in this in-between-the-Ages time we occupy. As with all sledgehammer losses, I often still today find myself closed in, unable to breathe, claustrophobic, a pressure on my chest, anxious over the finality of death.

But when he was dying, he left me and others a great gift. He prayed, thought, and wrote about his surprising journey of suffering and deliverance. In the midst of that season of much unknowing for me, Clyde spoke of what he was being allowed to see about how things actually ARE in the Kingdom of God, which is breaking in on us.

Perhaps above all of the gifts he gave in those last days, Clyde could see that unless a grain of wheat goes down into the ground and dies, it remains alone. In fact, it can do nothing. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever would walk with Jesus must learn to die to our lives, if we would ever find our lives.

Jim Eliot put it into his own, riveting words in the early 1950’s, in one of his journals: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

And so, Clyde put his hand in that of the One who made him, and trusted him with the no doubt countless ways God would providentially make use of his death.

And so I also pray. . .

“The risen Christ meets us at the tomb,
And turns our fear to joy.
Christ comes through our locked doors,
And turns our fear to courage.
Christ comes to daily life and work,
And turns our failure to new vision.
Christ breaks the bread,
And turns our despair to hope.
For your love and goodness
We give you thanks, O God.”