Gem #1: Seek God, not ministry to or for Him.

The perfection of the twelfth-century Cistercian architecture is not to be explained by saying that the Cistercians were looking for a new technique.  I am not sure that they were looking for a new technique at all.  They built good churches because they were looking for God.  And they were looking for God in a way that was pure and integral enough to make everything they did and everything they touched give glory to God.

We cannot reproduce what they did because we approach the problem in a way that makes it impossible for us to find a solution.  We ask ourselves a question that they never considered.  How shall we build a beautiful monastery according to the style of some past age and according to the rules of a dead tradition?  Thus we make the problem not only infinitely complicated, but we make it, in fact, unsolvable.  Because a dead style is a dead style.  And the reason why it is dead is that the motives that once gave it life have ceased to exist.  They have given place to a situation that demands another style.  If we were intent up on loving God rather than upon getting a Gothic church out of a small budget we would soon put up something that would give glory to God and would be very simple and would also be in the tradition of our fathers.

Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas


great fortunes i seek
so far away draw distant against my horizon
my back to you as my hope falls through
and further away
to imagine
by the time i get back
the efforts you have put to the edges
of all we own
how the grass has grown and faded
i will have never known
except by the eyes of you
the dew that slipped gently to the soil
and your lips having sipped the rains
–all passing
left to mist the clouded skies
–to taunt
the memories of all i’ve missed
forgive the abandon
should the leaves turn
darken, dampen and ache
falling only to nurture the foot of their making
returned green at the point of rebirth


(I’ve just gotta start getting some of these in writing.)

News report on Leawood City Counsel discussing coyote problem: At one point, one man stood up and spoke out directly on behalf of the coyotes.


I’m all for getting Leawood’s coyote problem figured out.  I’m okay if you trap and don’t kill coyotes.  But can we give the dramatic performance a break already? 

evening psalm

April 20, 2008

To the One who remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever.
And freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.
And who gives food to every creature, His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, His love endures forever.

Psalm 136

This was a favorite phrase from one of my seminary professors.  (Not your average systematics-guy.) 

Today, in gearing up for the Intuitive Leadership  conference I’ll be attending next week, I was re-reading a portion of Tim Keel’s book (also called Intuitive Leadership).  The following paragraph stood out as just one part of what means to say we are first creatures and then Christians:

Because of the incarnation, people and churches must always contend with the limitations of our creatureliness.  We always access and thus must subsequently express the life of God with and through the cultural tools at our disposal.  This does not make all tools equal or valuable.  The task requires discernment and wisdom.  But because of the reality of our limitations, our language and communal faith expressions are always provisional and in need of reframing and re-forming around the continued revelation of God in Christ.  Moreover, we must be in constant dialogue with those with whom we differ (in concept, culture, or class), whether they are contemporary or ancient, in order to access and submit ourselves to the full wisdom of the church animated by the Holy Spirit.

some “why” in wild

April 18, 2008

Happiness, wholeness, transcendence … intimacy, wisdom, & love.  These are just a few of the themes held together (sometimes in tension) as the biography of Christopher McCandless unfolds in Sean Penn’s 2007 movie, Into the Wild.  The DVD finally made its debut into my Blockbuster cue.  After reading Krakauer’s book (by the same title) several years ago, I was expecting to be disappointed. 

Not the case.  Beautiful scenery coupled with important glimpses of humanity proved to be a compelling combo.  Though the film flirted, at times, with simplistic or stereotypical narrative (less so than the novel), it managed–still–to pose deep and central considerations for any of us “transcendent folk” who call this world our home.

Worth its spot in the Q.