Teachings from “ProgressingSpirit” Column

As a contributing essayist for Progressing Spirit, I reflect on matters that pertain to the unfoldment of the soul. I encourage the reader to visit and even consider supporting the creative work of this online community. I provide below a brief intro to each essay. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at ProgressingSpirit.com.)

Liturgy: Corporate Practice of Presence. 2022. When Christians gather for liturgy; when we assemble for saying prayers, singing songs, hearing sermons; when we come together for Eucharist, it is simply assumed that we are engaging in worship. The last stanza of “An Affirmation of Faith” in the beautifully written A New Zealand Prayer Book, states: “You are our God. We worship you.” The mostly unquestioned and dominant vision of liturgy for millennia is that we gather to worship God, with kindred expressions in both Judaism and Islam. I sketch below a different, non-dual vision, reflective of the human experience of Reality in which every person is a human of Being.

Grateful & Communal Creatures: Zoom and the Dynamic Reality of Being Saved. 2020. When you gaze up into the night sky, perhaps from the sateen darkness of Glacier National Park, or the cozy vestibule of your backyard, what do you see? Pin-wheeling galaxies? Endless expanse of interstellar space? Familiar special neighbors such as Orion or Ursa Major? Whatever your eyes behold is received through story, probably intertwining and commingling narratives. A story of 13 billion years of expanding evolution whose ancient light is landing just now upon your retina. A story of cosmos-as-creation, dynamically unfolding, moment-to-moment, each arising a surprise and replete with mystery. For some, this is a narrative of the power of pure chance at work on both cosmic and microcosmic scales; for others, a story of the bodying-forth of Holy Mystery in which Being emerges from the emptiness of non-Being. Yes, chance is at play but within the wider and deeper Reality of Love

Fishing to Friending. 2020. As a young boy growing up in southeastern Michigan, several strong stone throws from the banks of the River Raisin, our dad taught us to fish. Dad was a teacher, not of fishing, but of high school kids. But he knew the basics of backyard angling – bamboo rod, red bobber, sinker and hook, and the coup de gras – a nice juicy night crawler.

Common Ground. 2020. A democracy is only able to function and prosper if its diverse citizenry shares a common sense of what is good. A political common good, however, is made possible by the presence of common ground; this ground is the Reality of Being, the Essence of all that is. Without spiritual common ground, which is Being, the fragile political common good is a chimera, evident in the cultural blindness to and destruction of the beauty of George Floyd.

The Courage to See. 2019. What an existential conundrum it is for us human beings as we long for someone to see us for the truth of what we are, while at the same time fearing to be seen for the truth of what we think we are and that others might perceive. A very tiring dance.

Living Christs of Touch. 2019. If your life were ending and you were given the chance to write a few words to encapsulate its essence, what would you say? The story wouldn’t have to be historical, or literally true, but it would need to offer an authentic window into your soul and the heart of your heart.

Eucharistic Prayers Celebrating the Embodiment of Presence: Part III. In this concluding column on liturgy, I invite us to look at excerpts from eucharistic prayers of presence that I have written. The goal is to create poetic prayers that embody and express with clarity and simplicity and beauty this fundamental truth: we are to realize ourselves as embodiments of Being. In the process, we are infusing new meanings into old and sometimes stale words, as well as discovering new words with deep resonance.

Liturgy as Corporate Spiritual Practice of Embodiment: Part II. With the universal human desire to be a human being of Being as our starting place, the question I raised in “Terrifying and Terrible Texts” remains the plumb line: is a particular formal liturgical text a Wisdom text (be it a eucharistic prayer, a collect, or a hymn)? A Wisdom text has the capacity to foster the soul’s growth or unfolding, helping her to realize that she is an utterly unique expression of Being that is present as boundless love. In this essay I explore how this reformed vision of liturgy as spiritual practice of embodiment can transform the Christian liturgical year of corporate worship

Liturgy as Individual Spiritual Practice of Embodiment: Part I. What is liturgy in its most basic sense? This essay is my response to Bishop Spong’s query in Unbelievable: can Christian liturgies be made to reflect “reality rather than nostalgia.” In this first of three essays on liturgy, I focus on liturgy as personal spiritual practice of the individual. In subsequent columns I explore reforming both the liturgical year and eucharistic prayers

Becoming the Fullness of Who we Already Are. I explore how Jesus exemplifies the spiritual journey as both discovery and development: as human beings we exist both to discover the eternal truth of what we are as well as to develop this truth into the fullness of who we are. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Celebrating the Curious Christ Soul. Sooner or later, if we are to realize our Christhood, we must come to know ourselves. No one else can do the knowing for us. But – what a tremendous grace it is when we don’t have to ceaselessly contend with supposed faith communities about the sacred fruit we are, nor fear that they desire to prune away our life. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Holy Wisdom. As human beings, we long for wisdom and it is extolled in poetry, song, and art. But what is wisdom, particularly in the spiritual tradition and how does it differ from what we might describe as the “wisdom of the world”? (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Dawning of Christ Consciousness. What possible meaning could an encounter of two Jewish men in Palestine have for those of us involved on the spiritual journey today, where fear constructs walls casting long shadows? I believe the key lies in the realization that fear-based separation is the blindness that taunts and haunts and seduces the human heart. I understand this realization as the dawning of Christ-consciousness in the soul of Jesus. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Christianity as a Nondual Spiritual Path. In and though Moses we have perhaps the most pivotal Jewish experience, and thus revelation, in the Hebrew scriptures. The name of the ground of reality, which is the name of God and the name of Moses (which means your name and my name), is I am who I am. In this primordial human experience is the realization of no separation, no boundary. Being is the boundless ocean from which all arises. These deep waters are the font from which flows forth the nondual spiritual path within Christianity. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Terrifying & Terrible Texts. A chasm is created between spiritual seekers and the truly boundless love of Being, because the dominant tradition is beholden to liturgical custom that cultically enshrines a tribal deity whose prejudices, penchants for reactive retaliation, and wholehearted embrace of violence are celebrated in the many pages of the stories regularly proclaimed as purportedly revealing the true nature of Being. Liturgy is neither the time nor the place for preachers to consistently be pressed into the act of deconstructing biblical texts so as to minimize the harm done to those desiring to hear words of life. (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Qualities of the Reign of God. What are some of the qualities of the reign of God that tell of its goodness in our lives? And what does it even mean to speak of “God’s reign” in the 21st century within a culture in which kingdoms and monarchs do not exist, and resonate within our imagination and lives as antiquated and oppressive? (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)

Participating in the Song of Life. For most of us, most of the time, the beginning, middle and end of our experience is not experienced as of some mysterious Word (again, whatever that might mean). Rather the vast majority of our experiences are generated by, sustained by, and understood in terms of, fear (that is usually unconscious). (To read on, click the hyperlink and subscribe today at Progressing Spirit.)