One man’s search for God in the cosmos

This journey of a minister to reconcile his faith with the natural world and wonder and mystery has been a fascinating read for me. Check this out.

I'm reading this book at the recommendation of a good friend, Jon Hart. Author Bruce Sanguin is minister of Canadian Memorial Church & Centre for Peace in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Because of a particular conception of the nature of God (in which God occasionally intervenes in history, but otherwise exists outside of natural processes), many clergy, liberal and conservative, tend to dismiss these experiences* as flaky, or more dramatically as heretical. Admittedly, as [Richard] Tarnas points out, we can get carried away, rendering every triviality in our lives with deep purpose and meaning. There is also a danger of spiritual narcissism, in which everything that happens is significant only in relation to one’s own reality.”

Many churches negate these experiences, risking disassociation with the natural world and God’s involvement. Some overemphasize them, risking spiritual narcissism. Sanguin’s call is for re-connecting the Spirit of God within, above, below, behind, and in front of all creation, and this is his foundation for the book as he builds on an ecological ethic. I’ve not finished the book and don’t agree with his total package, but finding this a worldview expanding and intellectually recharging read.

*He had referred earlier in the chapter to experiences that are variously called miracles, supernatural, random, coincidence, what Carl Jung calls “synchronicity”–no, not talking about the Police/Phil Collins CD.

Ice Exercise

When you can’t make it to the gym or out to run because of weather, do something indoors. Jill is doing a step video. I did the following, and if you need an exercise, give this one a try.

100 push ups
100 sit ups
100 squats

Do them in sets and set a time goal and try to beat it. I did it in 15:41. Setting time goal keeps you moving (you can take 30 second to minute breaks) and from lollygagging.

This workout is “Crossfit” like. It uses what you have–your body and a room–but it’s one of the really basic routines that is done in Crossfit. I’m not a member of Crossfit but appreciate what they do and how they helped me get back into more practical and full body workouts. They have a special going on now if you’re in Tulsa and interested.

Walt McDonald

Published by Abilene Christian University Press

Published by Abilene Christian University Press

Last week, Leonard Allen gave me a book of poems by Walt McDonald.

His poems are gritty and poignant.

Check out his site.

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

Englewood Review

The Englewood Review of Books announced today its picks for the best books of 2008 for the life of the Church.

The newest book from acclaimed author Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks and A Writer’s Life, was named the Englewood Book of the Year for 2008. Offering a unique blend of social criticism and hope, Acedia and Me eloquently describes the ways in which the ancient sin acedia (lethargy / restlessness) is manifested in today’s consumer culture. However, Norris is quick to note that the monastic practices of community, stability and prayer, by which the ancient Christians resisted acedia, are likewise valuable for Christ’s followers today. Additionally, The Englewood Review named ten Englewood Honor Books. These books address the themes of culture (Andy Crouch’s Culture Making and Beyond Homelessness by Steve Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh), economics (William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed), race (Free to Be Bound by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove), violence (Living Gently in a Violent World by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier), scripture (Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet), art (God in the Gallery by Daniel Siedell), agriculture (Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life by Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens) and craftsmanship (Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman). The Englewood Review also recognized other important books from 2008, including “Most Significant Theological Book” (J. Kameron Carter’s Race) and “Best Novel” (Ron Hansen’s Exiles). Full details about these award-winning books are available through the Englewood Review website:

What will 2009 bring?

Could you have imagined one year ago what 2008 would bring? Can you imagine what events will happen in your life in 2009, what will happen internationally?

What can you do in 2009 to be ready for the changes that will occur in your life and in the world? Since I was a child I have made personal goals at the beginning of each year. I no longer make personal goals but try to think about the communities I’m in and what our community goals will be.

Last night my family sat down to a beautifully prepared meal my wife made. Pork tenderloin wrapped around spinach and provolone cheese, sauteed peas, mushrooms, carrots, salad, and potatoes. Jill offered the children a copy of our family’s one year Bible to read personally and suggested we read it together as well. We talked about what the year would bring, we discussed how we were getting our house in order individually and collectively.

Next week our church will have these discussions, sitting around meals, in offices, in coffee shops. I’ll have these conversations with various ministry leaders, shepherds, fellow ministers at Garnett. I’ll talk to Eric, Keith, Lara, and others on the ZOE team and we’ll discern what God is leading us to in 2009. I’ll meet with Jeff Krisman and talk about what will happen with Neighborhood Kitchens/Wednesday night meals at Garnett.

To begin this year, I’ll also talk with Leonard Allen about what’s going on with Leafwood/ACU Press that I can help with. We have a few cool things up our sleeves in all these areas. I’ll check in with Clint Davis about Kibo’s goals–he and I met yesterday in his yard, but for a different purpose: to cut a pesky tree that was damaging his house. I’m glad I’m down off that roof and the limb is safely down without breaking windows. We were proud of ourselves!

January is really about conversations of direction and purpose in the communities I live in. We don’t make goals as much as we prepare ourselves for what could come, for what God is doing in the world. Will we be ready to face challenges that come, and what do we need to do and be to be ready? That question is more important than the goals we make. Are we shaped in the image of Christ? How do we do that so we’re ready for opportunities and challenges that life and God bring our way?

So our exercise fitness, the way we eat, the way we daily pray, fast (or not), enter in Scripture and thought of fellow Christ followers, all serves the purpose of the communities of Christ followers I live in. For many years my goals were about fitness and Bible reading and books to get through and degrees to obtain, but those things all serve the end of my life becoming shaped into the image of Christ in the communities I’m in.

What communities do you need to talk to about what 2009 will look like? Enjoy talking and acting on those conversations.

May God bless those talks. Happy New Year 2009.