Showing posts from August, 2018

Summer 2018 Pop Culture Roundup

Previously: January 2018, February 2018, March 2018, April 2018, Winter/Spring 2018


I read Denial is My Spiritual Practice by Rachel Hackenberg and Martha Spong, a collection of personal reflections on personal struggles, failings, and hopes that each has experienced in life and ministry. Some essays were painful to read, as each shares moments of uncertainty, rejection, abuse, and second chances in relationships, where each has sought new beginnings after what seemed so certain has crumbled or become unreliable or unsafe. The title refers to the changes and revelations that have come for each when they have finally admitted to themselves certain truths about themselves or situations in which they are immersed. I don't know if "enjoyed" is the right word, but I was certainly moved by what they shared.

I read I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, a memoir about her experiences as a black woman in mostly white spaces. What struck me most was her description of …

Creativity as Prayer (book excerpt)

Below is an excerpt from Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times.

In his book The Music Lesson, accomplished bassist Victor Wooten explains his approach to music in a series of imagined conversations with a mysterious man named Michael. Michael is a mystical figure who guides Wooten in looking at the spirit of musical concepts like technique, tone, dynamics, and notes, beyond the nuts and bolts of how to apply them to practicing and playing.

In one chapter, the discussion turns to the subject of how emotion can be an integral part of playing. Michael tries to get Wooten to understand that following emotion rather than resisting it, infusing music with emotion rather than ignoring it, can deepen both the player and hearer’s experience:
“It is like trusting the river current to take you where you want to go. To fight the current could be disastrous. In each situation, whether it be in Music or in Life, take a moment to close your eyes and feel the current of your heart ta…

Frequently Asked Questions about Prayer in Motion

Now that Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times has been released into the world, here are answers to a few of the most common anticipated questions that might arise about it.

Wait, didn't you just release a new book in June? Why, yes, I did. The story goes that I sent a proposal for Wonder and Whiskey pretty much on a lark, just to see what would happen. When I didn't hear back for a while I assumed that nothing would come of it, and turned my attention to the idea for Prayer in Motion instead. Then in the middle of receiving some interest for the latter, I heard back from Wipf and Stock about publishing the former. So as strange as it seems for me to be publishing two books pretty much back to back, it's all due to a fortunate series of events and coincidental timing.

So, what's this book about? As a pastor and spiritual director, I've accumulated enough anecdotal evidence that a lot of people find prayer difficult either because they don't thi…

Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times

Now available through Apocryphile Press!

Does your daily schedule make setting aside time to pray difficult? Do you feel too distracted even in those rare times when you can finally sit down to pray? Learn spiritual practices to seek God’s presence even in your busiest moments. Jeffrey Nelson is a pastor, spiritual director, author, and blogger who has been speaking and writing about ways for busy people to deepen their spiritual lives for years. Prayer in Motion is an accessible commentary on how to weave spirituality into one’s entire life, where it was always meant to be. Grounded in wisdom from some of the great Christian spiritual thinkers, Prayer in Motion offers easy-to-use spiritual practices while at work, exercising, doing chores, during one’s daily commute, and more. In this book you’ll learn: • Stories from the Bible where people discover God’s presence in ways besides sitting in stillness or silence; • Personal anecdotes and stories that help illustrate what spirituality in eve…

I'm on Pulpit Fiction This Week

I have contributed the "Voice in the Wilderness" segment to this week's edition of the Pulpit Fiction podcast, which takes a look at the Revised Common Lectionary texts each week leading to the coming Sunday.

This time around, my assignment was 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43, one of the texts for next Sunday, August 26th. You'll be able to listen at their website or on iTunes.

Thanks to the guys for another chance to contribute.

A Prayer for Heavenly Bread

based on John 6:35:41-51

Faithful God, we crave so many things that ultimately leave us hungry again. We crave status in the eyes of others and hope that our own accomplishments or those of our family will help us achieve it. We crave material possessions that we believe will make our lives more comfortable. We crave the love of someone who always seems to ask more of us before they will give it. We crave food that may tickle our endorphins for a while but may cause regret later.

Through Jesus, you offer fulfillment for these cravings in a different way. Through him you offer living water that will quench thirst, and bread from heaven that will satisfy our spirits. While our seeking after other cravings will leave us ever wanting more, this new life freely given offers a wholeness that these more fleeting pursuits never will. So we pray that you will direct our hearts toward that which is truly gratifying and lasting, so that we in turn may share it with others in such need.

O God, g…

Fall Reading

With summer beginning to wind down, I've been planning what I'd like to read as my favorite season finally approaches yet again. I mostly enjoyed the books on my summer reading list, and now I have to come up with a new one for the last part of the year.

Here's what I've come up with so far.
My Own Devices by DessaI'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamaraPreacher, Book 6 by Garth EnnisThe Sign of Jonas by Thomas MertonGrace Period by Kelly BakerThe Zombies are Coming by Kelly BakerThe Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonOn the Other Side of Freedom by DeRay MckessonGhosts in the Schoolyard by Eve EwingThe Walking Dead Volume 30 by Robert KirkmanJoy to the World by Kenneth OsbeckProclaiming the Christmas Gospel by John D. Witvliet and David Vroege A few memoirs, some graphic novels, a couple theology/spirituality books, some social commentary, only one novel, and a little Advent preparation.
What's on your to-read list nowadays?
If you need suggestions, how about Cof…

Book Review: Cultural Savage by Aaron J. Smith

All of this is my reality of living with mental illness. I hope it gives you some insight into the lives of people around you who live with these illnesses. But listen to their stories. Mental illness is different for each person. Don't assume that I can speak for the entire population affected by mental illness. Still, I hope you will hear my words [and] they will help you see those of us suffering. We deserve to be seen. - Aaron Smith, Cultural Savage

The world needs more personal stories about living with mental illness. And the Christian community is in special need of such stories that wrestle with how to reconcile faith with such illnesses. While many in general hold conscious or unconscious stigma, there tends to be an extra layer of misunderstanding and cruelty in the church, as the message many receive is that it is a sign of weak faith or needing more prayer. While faith and prayer may assist one in pursuing health, it is not the only thing that one needs. Therapy, medic…

Permission to Lament

Earlier this year, a band called Bad Wolves released a cover version of the song "Zombie," which was written and originally recorded by The Cranberries in 1993.

The Cranberries' lead singer, Delores O'Riordan, wrote the song in response to a bombing in Warrington, England which killed two children. The band is from Limerick, Ireland, so this tragedy was very dear to them having taken place so close to home. The song expresses O'Riordan's feelings of sadness, anger, and protest in response to this act of violence.

The Bad Wolves version retains the core spirit of the song, with a few slight updates. You can listen below:

This is probably not a song that you'd put on when sitting down to dinner. Or when you're hosting a cookout or big family gathering in your backyard, it's unlikely that someone would say, "Hey, put on 'Zombie!'" Due to its jarring, angry tone, you might not think that that would be the right time and place for su…

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