Archives For spirituality

"10" by Leo Reynolds (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“10” by Leo Reynolds (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

2014 closed out with the usual smattering of Top 10 lists of books that had been meaningful to people during the course of the year. The same people are opening 2015 with lists of resolutions that they hope to keep—changes they want to make to their lives. But I suspect that there are plenty of people out there who don’t want things to change. Real change is disruptive and unsettling. It upsets the status quo and prevents life from continuing on as usual.

With that in mind, I give you, in no particular order, 10 Books to Avoid in 2015 (Unless You Want Things to Change). Seriously, if you like your life as it is right now, don’t read these books. If your horizons are broad enough, stay clear of the things on this list. If you find nothing wanting with your church and your theology, make sure these books don’t find their way into your library. Each one of these books will challenge your sensibilities and may cause big changes in your life. Who wants that?  Continue Reading…

Fog lifting from a field on a December morning in Oregon. © R. Anderson Campbell, 2011.

Fog lifting from a field on a December morning in Oregon. © R. Anderson Campbell, 2011.

I’m done with “spiritual formation.”

I’m over it and you should be, too. Let me explain.

In much of the evangelicalism, “spiritual formation” is only an veiled way of referring to disciplines or practices intended to be undertaken by an individual for the sake of the individual. This compartmentalization of faith, this dualism, must stopContinue Reading…

"I'm not botherin' you, am I?"

“I’m not botherin’ you, am I?”

When you think of “spirituality,” what comes to mind? Prayer? Yoga poses? Light and peace and health? For much of my youth, “spirituality” was something that only Buddhists or New Age hippies pursued. As a good, Southern Baptist evangelical, I didn’t have “spirituality,” I had my “walk with Jesus.” 

Mostly, this consisted of a daily “quiet time” with God, in which I read a passage out of the Bible, wrote down my thoughts in a journal, and prayed. The undercurrent was one of fear, though. I viewed God as a Divine Curmudgeon, the Great Mr. Wilson in the sky. My attempts at daily discipline were to try and placate him, to show him how serious and studious I was about wanting a relationship with him. And to apologize. Every time I prayed, I brought with me a long list of sins for which I needed forgiveness. I begged God daily to allow the blood of Jesus to cover over my latest transgressions. Theologically, I understood that God would forgive me, but I sure didn’t think he was very happy about it. I figured he was fairly put out by having to hear from me every day about how I’d screwed up since the last time I’d prayed. I felt guilty about exercising the Jesus-Loophole; God had to forgive me because I am a Christian. It’s like he was under contractual obligation.
Continue Reading…


“It’s important to note first of all that the right of self-defense is rooted in the teaching of Jesus himself. He once told his disciples that he would be “numbered with the transgressors,” and that as a result their own lives could be endangered because of their association with him. He therefore counseled them, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). You can’t get more legitimacy than that. A legal principle rooted in the teaching of Christ is pretty tough to beat.”

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association,”When America HAD to Pack Heat to Church” 1

In the week since the tragic shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, there has been a lot of talk about violence in entertainment, access to mental health care, gun control, and other things that might be “part of the problem.” As we seek to find solutions that will make it increasingly difficult for these kinds of tragedies to be repeated, I’ve noticed Christians on all sides of these complex issues are turning to the Bible to find support for their particular point of view. Unfortunately, much of what I’m reading online and overhearing in conversation is little more than folk theology 2, which may make the conflicted individual feel better, but has little to do with trying to faithfully interpret the Bible and apply it in our context today.

Continue Reading…


  2. I take this term from Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson’s excellent work, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. In it they define folk theology as “a kind of theology that rejects critical reflection and enthusiastically embraces simplistic acceptance of an informal tradition of beliefs and practices composed mainly of cliches and legends. . . . Folk theology is often intensely experiential and pragmatic–that is, the criteria of true belief are feelings and results” (Grenz and Olson, Who Needs Theology?, 27).

On December 3, I hosted a live chat to discuss whether or not brewing beer and spirituality had anything in common. Though I’d hoped for a large group of people, there ended up being only three of us who could make the chat. What we lacked in numbers, we made up for in depth of conversation, though. Using monastic brewing communities as a jumping off point, we talked about how brewing beer and the Christian spiritual journey have some common experiences. It was a rich conversation. Thanks to Russ and Brendan for sharing their time and insight with me. They also agreed to allow the transcript to be posted publicly. I’ve put it below. Perhaps we’ll do this again in the future… and you can join us!

Beer and Spirituality Chat.pdf
Download this file


UPDATE: You can find the transcript for the chat here:

This Saturday, December 3rd, at 1pm, PST I am hosting a live chat on beer brewing and spirituality. What has one to do with the other? That’s what we’re going to explore. In order to have as many people participate as possible, we’re going to use a simple, browser-based text chatting tool called Campfire. Here’s a link to the room:

Why am I doing this in the first place? Well, I’m working on a doctorate for which I am exploring the construction of metaphors for abstract spiritual concepts in a postmodern, consumer culture. One metaphor I want to explore is the process of brewing beer as an interpretive lens through which one might consider the claims of Christian spirituality.

More broadly, though, I am a homebrewer myself. I’m intrigued that monks have brewed fine beer for a long, long time. I think there must be something in the simplicity of the process, the magic of transforming the ingredients, and the duration one must wait to see it completed, that makes the brewing enterprise work so well with rhythmic monastic life. What can that teach us today?

Who should attend? Anyone, really. The more voices, the better. If you have a general interest in creative ways to conceive of spirituality, join in. If you like beer, join in. If you brew, join in. Even if none of those things describe you, join in! And if you can’t join in, help spread the word. Share this post through your different networks. You may know someone who would make a great addition to this conversation. Thanks! See you online Saturday…

EDIT (12.1.2011): I should note that this event will not be a presentation of material or an online lecture. Rather, it is an open forum for YOU to explore whether or not there might be anything to be learned from correlating beer brewing with spirituality. I will share some of my thoughts, but am interested in hearing what you have to say.