Monthly Archives: June 2008

Shakespeare and the Bible

I loved Sara Wilhelm’s post, Shakespeare and Biblical Interpretation. Here’s a snapshot:

This journey of interpretation is not always an easy one, but I think Sunday night reminded me though that this work is always worth the risk …for only then do you capture the beauty of the transforming power of a text that can and still speaks to the realities of our lives in ever transformed ways.



Soul Wordle

I found a cool thing called Wordle at Monastic Musings. You can enter a bunch of text and it creates a sort of art piece out of it. I used the text from yesterday’s poem Soul Work, tweaked it a bit, and here’s what happened.

Soul Work

The soul is a cave, feral and complex

If I’m slow enough, I’ll traverse her caverns and study the pathways

Venturing wherever the Spirit leads

An opening here and a room there, many I have not seen before

Surrounded by wilderness, she calls me into the depths


Entering each room reveals work

Sometimes I will stay for a long time

Rehearsing the past

Sitting silently

Asking questions


Some rooms hold people hostage,

Waiting for justice or

Just waiting for me

Sometimes we talk together

Sometimes we cry

Sometimes I will ask forgiveness

Sometimes I will give it

I try to bless them on their way


In some rooms I find myself held hostage

Shackled by warped ideas and false belief systems

Slowly we unlock my disillusioned self

Tenderly we whisper truth and love

Carefully we set the captive free

Free from the ‘me’ that used to be


The work I do is invisible

Slow like molasses

Yet incredibly fruitful

Grace, love, and presence, make the violent rooms peaceful

I am transformed and seek to go deeper

Venturing wherever the Spirit leads

My soul is a cave, feral and complex

My Name is Ben, and I’m a Consumaholic


I was wondering if anyone was asking themselves why a blog meant for spirituality would concern itself so much with the subject of consumerism. After some thought and discussion with a few friends, the reason seems obvious.

There is a massive void when it comes to the meeting of spiritual needs in the people of our society. Most feel worthless, lack purpose, cultivate shame, and experience little if any authentic love in their lives. I believe that this is a spiritual problem because the work of God in a person is the foundation for finding real worth, purpose, grace, and love. When this Presence is absent, a person will try anything to fill the void. Until the Spirit brings healing to people, one by one, we will suffer from rampant consumerism. 

We all know that the first step in kicking an addiction is acknowledging the problem. I think each of us can pick our consumeristic poison. Whether it is buying clothes, cars, music, home decor, gasoline, magazines, macs, or lawn supplies. For me, REI tends to be my biggest trap. In buying outdoor equipment I fool myself into thinking I’ll get outside more (something that actually does feed me spiritually). Just recently I even bought a brand new $300 tent that has already sat in my basement for over a month… without being used. What’s your product/drug of choice?

Consuming is an intoxicating way of life for me and most of us in the US. We’ve been using since birth and totally blind to the destructive habit that threatens to poison us from the inside out. We are spiritually strangling ourselves and physically holding the world around us hostage with our greed and selfishness (have you heard that world hunger could end with the amount of money that people in the US spend on ice cream in one year?). 

In conclusion, I am feeling the need to give some deep spiritual answer, possibly with some biblical text or theological argument. In reality however I think that this issue is way too complex for a simple nugget of encouragement. Today, fighting consumerism in The United States of America simply begins with me; acknowledging my addiction and changing my habits, realizing my needs and inviting the Spirit to bring wholeness.

Simply Consumeristic



















Just ran across this t-shirt from Patagonia and couldn’t help but feel a strong urge to buy it. For the low price of $29.00 I too can combat consumerism and promote a simpler way of life. Just think of all the people who will read my t-shirt and be inspired to sell all they have and move to the mountains. And everyone will know that I am against consumerism! All I have to do is buy it.

I’m all for living simply, but here’s what I think this t-shirt really says: look at me– I’m white, wealthy, privileged, well educated, “liberal”, and just like all my other friends from the class of ’99 I like to play guitar. 

So instead of buying this t-shirt, I decided to use a black magic marker ($.99), take off my shirt, and inscribe the words “live simply” upon my chest.

Sorry capitalism.

Time For My Own Conversion

Today I’m finding myself rather unemployed. I resigned from a youth pastor position at Church of the Open Door so that I could stay home with my six month old daughter and also pursue further training in spiritual direction. I gave 4 months of notice for my resignation so now that my first day at home is finally here, it feels rather unsettling. This househusband mindset is a bit of an adjustment for me….

I feel so capitalistically unproductive. And what of my budding career as a mega church youth pastor??? 

I’ve been telling myself that a new life is starting. Today I begin new disciplines of servanthood and contemplation. Washing diapers, dishes, and laundry are no longer just the simple tasks of the household for me. It is the new work of my hands for the benefit of our tiny intentional community and my own spiritual formation. I fully expect the washing to be an inner and outer work. Ever so slowly, even monotonously, I hope to work into my character the ways and attitudes of Jesus Christ. A friend shared this quote from Henry Nouwen recently:

I feel a burning desire to preach the Gospel, but I know in my heart that now is the time to pray, to read, to meditate, to be quiet, and to wait…. It makes no sense to preach the Gospel when I have allowed no time for my own conversion. I feel a tension within me. I have only a limited number of years left for active ministry. Why not use them well? Yet one word spoken with a pure heart is worth thousands spoken in a state of spiritual turmoil. Time given to inner renewal is never wasted. God is not in a hurry.

So today I’m letting go of personal success and narcissistic productivity. Sounds very noble and maybe idealistic, but I’m actually excited for this new season of life.