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    • Chris Glaser
    • CHRIS GLASER BIOGRAPHY

      WRITER
      Chris Glaser has published 12 books, most recently, The Final Deadline: What Death Has Taught Me about Life (Morehouse, 2010) and As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage (Seabury Press, 2009). He authored Uncommon Calling (Harper & Row,1988; Westminster John Knox Press,1996), Come Home! (Harper & Row, 1990, Chi Rho Press,1998), and Coming Out as Sacrament (Westminster John Knox Press,1998), and a series of devotional books: Coming Out to God (Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), The Word Is Out (HarperSanFrancisco,1994, Westminster John Knox Press, 1998; Spanish language version online from Other Sheep, 2008), Communion of Life—Meditations for the New Millennium (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999), and Reformation of the Heart  (Westminster John Knox Press, 2001).

      Collaborating with his late golden Labrador retriever, Calvin, he “translated from the canine” Unleashed—The Wit and Wisdom of Calvin the Dog (Westminster John Knox Press, 1998). His book, Henri’s Mantle—100 Meditations on Nouwen’s Life and Writings (Pilgrim Press, 2002), Spanish language version Meditando con Henri Nouwen, (Editorial Epifania, Argentina, 2004) reflects on the words and friendship of his spiritual mentor, prolific Roman Catholic author and priest Henri J. M. Nouwen. In 2005, Glaser edited Troy Perry: Pastor and Prophet, a book published by the Metropolitan Community Churches, honoring its retiring founder.

      In 2008, Glaser created two online curricula for the Human Rights Campaign, one on the film, For the Bible Tells Me So, and one entitled, Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities. He has written or edited other church curricula described later in this section.

      He has also contributed to a score of other books, most recently, Prayers for the New Social Awakening (2008), Den Svenska Psalmboken [Hymnbook for the Church of Sweden] (2007),Remembering Henri: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen (2006), Befriending Life—Encounters with Henri Nouwen (2001) and Body and Soul: Womanist, Feminist, Queer Theologians Rethink Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice (Fall, 2002).

      His writings have appeared in many publications, including Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Advocate, Frontiers, Christianity and Crisis (for which he was a columnist), The Christian Century, and a range of church periodicals, including Church and Society and Presbyterians Today.

      For five years (1998-2002), Glaser was editor of Open Hands, a U.S./Canadian ecumenical quarterly magazine for one thousand congregations that are welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, sponsored by welcoming programs in seven denominations in the U.S. and Canada. Earlier he was news reporter and then news editor of Frontiers, a gay newsmagazine out of Los Angeles.

      He has also written two youth curricula for a consortium of denominations, including the PC(USA), on worship and on racism, and edited two others on evangelism and 1 and 2 Samuel.

      SPEAKER
      Traveling widely as a speaker and retreat leader, he has spoken on hundreds of college and seminary campuses, churches, retreat centers, and meeting halls to a wide variety of religious and secular groups, straight and LGBT and blended. He has addressed PFLAG groups and city councils and has appeared often on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers.

      His subject matter has included the church/the Bible and homosexuality, the spiritual gifts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, same-gender marriage, and more generally, the spiritual life, men’s spirituality, the Bible, Henri Nouwen (with whom he studied), and more.

      STUDENT
      Glaser received his M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School in 1977 and earlier, his B.A. in English Honors and Religious Studies from California State University, Northridge, in 1973. He had graduated from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1968 and from Village Christian School in 1964, both in Sun Valley, California near his childhood home in North Hollywood.

      Glaser has traveled extensively in Great Britain, Europe, and North America. Through New York’s Fordham University, he has taken two Religious Studies tours/courses of two regions of the world: Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel; and India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, visiting sites important to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and the ancient religions that preceded them. On a trip organized by Church World Service, he traveled to Nicaragua to witness its first democratic elections since the dictator Somoza was deposed. At the time of those elections, the U.S. was threatening the country and funding the contras.

      MINISTER
      Reared and baptized in Vanowen Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in North Hollywood, California, Chris Glaser created programs for his congregation’s Baptist Youth Fellowship while in junior and senior high and preached on Youth Sunday one year.

      He joined the Presbyterian Church in 1970 while in college, drawn by its social activism and its Confession of 1967, which spoke of reconciliation among races and nations. Presently, Glaser is a member of Ormewood Park Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, a More Light congregation welcoming of LGBT members.

      While in college he served as Director of Youth Ministry of the Congregational Church of Northridge (UCC) and was ordained an elder of his home congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Van Nuys.

      In 1974 Glaser, as part of a ministry within the Yale LGBT community, founded a predecessor group of the 1979-founded Gay/Lesbian/Straight Coalition at Yale Divinity School, and, in 1976, he founded the Gay/Lesbian Peer Counseling Service at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia while a campus ministry intern for the Christian Association (1975-1976).

      From 1977 to 1987, he served as founding Director of the Lazarus Project, a ministry of reconciliation between the church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Los Angeles, funded by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) nationally and regionally and located at the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church. During his tenure, Sunday attendance increased from 12 to 150, revitalizing a dying congregation.

      The Lazarus educational programs drew hundreds over the years and featured such noteworthy speakers as John Boswell, Malcolm Boyd, Bernadette Brooten, Brian McNaught, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Henri Nouwen, and Janie Spahr. Shortly thereafter he served a year as an interim campus chaplain at the United Campus Ministry of the University of Southern California.

      For four years, Glaser was Spiritual Leader of Midtown Spiritual Community in Atlanta, an interfaith and eclectic contemplative community. He became the interim pastor of Christ Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Decatur, Georgia in June 2005 and served in that capacity until October, 2006.

      After 30 years of struggling with the Presbyterian Church for the right to ordination as an openly gay person, he was ordained to the ministry in MCC on October 2, 2005. The Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, gave the sermon. Participating as liturgists were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight Presbyterian activists from around the country with whom he worked over the years, including Margaret Aymer, Dale Kraii, George Lynch, Dan Smith, Janie Spahr, and Erin Swenson.

      From November, 2006 through December 2007, Rev. Glaser served as Interim Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church San Francisco.

      From January, 2009 through June, 2010, he served as interim/transitional pastor of Virginia Highland Church, a UCC and progressive Baptist congregation in the Virginia Highland neighborhood of Atlanta.

      ACTIVIST
      Glaser came out as a gay man during his senior year of college in 1972 and, in 1974, after his first year of seminary, came out to the presbytery committee charged with the care and oversight of candidates for ordained ministry. As a volunteer with the predecessor organization of More Light Presbyterians he was among a group of openly gay activists who helped shape the Presbyterian 1976 General Assembly’s decision to study homosexuality, particularly as it related to ordination.

      Glaser was the openly gay member of the Presbyterian Task Force to Study Homosexuality which met from 1976-1978. When the denomination rejected the favorable recommendations of that committee and established a policy forbidding the ordination of gays and lesbians in 1978, he was refused ordination while remaining employed by the church as Lazarus Director. He ghostwrote or edited much of the denomination’s 1985 book, Breaking the Silence, Overcoming the Fear – Resources in Homophobia Education.

      He served as the second national coordinator and treasurer of Presbyterians for Lesbian & Gay Concerns, overseeing its acquiring not-for-profit status with the IRS and writing the first annual report accepted by a Presbyterian General Assembly in 1979. As editor of its newsletter for three years, he gave the publication its name, More Light, now known as the More Light Update, from which More Light churches that are welcoming of LGBT people get their name.

      He continued to serve the More Light Update as columnist and guest editor and writer of semi-annual prayerbooks and collections of resource materials. In 2004, he resumed editing the More Light Update until 2006.

      Glaser has been an active member of a wide variety of church committees and boards, including the national board of the Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association. For two years he chaired the Spiritual Advisory Committee of AIDS Project Los Angeles. Presently he serves on the board of the Southern Association for Gender Education, Inc. as an ally of transgender people.

      In 2006, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, requested Chris Glaser’s papers for their archives. Thirty boxes of files have already been transferred to the campus from Glaser’s home, and there are more to come. Glaser believes that the heart of his collection are the hundreds of letters he has received over the years that tell LGBT stories of faith. Protections are in place to preserve their confidentiality. The files also include documents, letters, sermons, manuscripts, and articles written by Chris that he hopes, along with the letters he’s received, may inspire future researchers and leaders. An official ceremony was not held till 2009 at the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, with speakers from the Center as well as people with whom Glaser has worked: Rev. Linda Culbertson, Rev. Jim Mitulski, Rev. Janie Spahr, and Rev. Dan Smith. The Center also archives the papers of the Lazarus Project, Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, Dr. John J. McNeill, and others.

      HONOREE
      Glaser was honored by the 1988 Lazarus Award from the Lazarus Project and the 1998 Inclusive Church Award from More Light Presbyterians. He received the 2004 Yale Divinity School Alumni Award for Distinction in Lay Ministry. Advocate magazine named him one of the Advocate 500, leaders who have helped shape the LGBT movement.

      In celebration of Hotlanta 2001 he was named one of 100 “hot” persons, places, and things in Atlanta (one of five “hot” writers), as chosen by readers and the editorial staff of Southern Voice, the gay and lesbian newspaper of the South. He has received a dozen other awards for a spectrum of accomplishments ranging from writing to running, the latter as a participant in an AIDS fundraiser.

      In 2009 Glaser was chosen as the male grand marshal of the Atlanta Pride parade, November 1.

      FAMILY MEMBER
      Chris Glaser is the youngest child of the late Wayne and Mildred Glaser, high school sweethearts from Pittsburg, Kansas, who enjoyed more than fifty years together. He was born and reared in North Hollywood, California, and has a sister and brother and three nephews who have families of their own. His family and relatives proved loving and supportive when he came out as gay.

      He lived three years in New Haven, Connecticut, while in seminary; and one year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while doing a campus ministry internship. He then lived in West Hollywood, California for 15 years.

      With the exception of 14 months in San Francisco while serving MCCSF, Glaser has lived in Atlanta since 1993 and makes his home in the Ormewood Park neighborhood of Atlanta with his partner Wade and their golden retriever/Labrador-mix Hobbes. Together they enjoy wining and dining with friends and family.

      Glaser’s recreation includes praying, reading, writing, movies, running, swimming, weightlifting, dancing, and walking Hobbes.

      http://www.chrisglaser.com/info/biography.htm

Love that Does Not Die

Early Sunday morning before Christmas I learned that my first long term partner had died. It took me by surprise and grabbed me in the gut. I wanted to talk to somebody about it, but I didn’t think anyone could understand. So I’m talking about it with you, the reader of this blog.

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Near Death Experiences

A neighbor who looks every bit the part of a Hindu sage suggested humbly that expecting life to be eternal is “a bit greedy, don’t you think?”

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Listen Up!

Benedictine monk John Main has reminded me of something I first learned reading one of Gore Vidal’s historical novels. Reading to oneself became a thing only in recent centuries. “The spoken word is the essential medium for the communication of the gospel.”

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A Prayer Quartet for Pride

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising

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Ozymandias on the Nightly News

Dorian Gray was above it all, privileged and pampered and proud, without good promise or purpose. Wilde’s implication is that conscience is necessary for the soul to survive.“What does it profit a person if, in gaining the whole world, loses the soul?”

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God, Mother of Us All

The 19th century English poet and mystic William Blake summed it up well when he said, “We are put on earth for a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
The spiritual teacher Henri Nouwen added that our time on earth is a brief span to say to God, “I love you too.”

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An Unfinished Mystic

Lonely Mystic: A New Portrait of Henri J. M. Nouwen is the most intimate glimpse of Henri yet, if that’s even possible, given his intimate self-portrayals in almost every one of his own books. It may make those who want to see Henri canonized squirm a little, though not because of any illicit affairs or theological heresies or tasteless behavior. He was the consummate “best little boy in the world” that every gay boy and man wants to be, but his calling to a celibate vocation kept him lonely and needy and sometimes, broken.

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Communion of Life

As a follow-up to last week’s post, “Thank You for the Body that Loves Me,” I present another meditation on our earthiness, another in a series of reflections from my earlier books that I hope may lift our spirits in this new year. The series opened with “Peace of Mind” and will continue throughout the season of Epiphany and, who knows, maybe beyond.

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Thank You for the Body that Loves Me

Both my sexuality and my spirituality conspired to persuade me that embodiment is good, a sacred trust, a holy way of being.

My sexuality impelled me to love another intimately, physically, even worshipfully at its better moments. My spirituality, being incarnational, inspired me to love others personally and politically, wishing them shalom: health, well-being, justice, equality, peace.

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Christmas for the spiritual but not religious

Christmas has become about more than Jesus. It’s about the lifting of the human spirit. It’s about kindness and compassion and the glory of being alive!

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Tree of Life

verything is interrelated, and dynamic, in ceaseless change, and anything that seems unchanging is illusory. Those of us who are “good, civil and kind” must lean in to change history’s trajectory. God’s kingdom come!

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The Mythologies of Science and Religion

I’ve written before that I am at “that age” when you look for connections, a time late in life indicated by recent studies. Regular readers will know that, during my morning prayers these days, I’ve been slowly absorbing Fritjof Capra’s 1975 book, The Tao of Physics. I find physicist Capra’s writing more accessible than that of Stephen Hawking, though I wonder how dated his science may be today, even as he demonstrates a pretty thorough understanding of Eastern spirituality.

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Aunt Helen, Nelson Mandela, and Donald Trump

How differently Aunt Helen, Nelson Mandela, and Donald Trump have applied the powers of positive thinking! Maybe we need a corrective text entitled, The Power of Magnanimous Thinking.

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The Lost Gospel of the Woman at the Well

This is the lost Gospel of Marah, the woman at the well to whom Jesus spoke while travelling through Samaria, as described in the Gospel of John, chapter four. It was recently discovered wedged behind a stone of a well in Samaria. This is the Contemporary American Version translation.

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A Healing Touch

As I get older, I have fewer opportunities to be touched. I knew that about old age even before I got there, and that’s why I’m sitting so close to my mother in the above photograph, my arm around her. I had noticed the need particularly among the older women of our neighborhood church. The passing of the peace was an opportunity for older folk to receive and give full-on hugs. Now I am grateful for such hugs in greeting or in parting worship.

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Jesus’ “Bad” Table Manners

The traditional beginning of the Communion story is “On the night that Jesus was betrayed…” But we did more than betray him that night; we denied him multiple times and abandoned him to the “powers that be.” We expressed shock that any of us would desert him, let alone betray him, and we each said, “Is it I, Lord?” Was our fear of authority figures and the awareness of Jesus’ and our vulnerability already palpable at the meal? Regardless, both believers and betrayers were welcome at his table.

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Souls “Flung Up to Heaven”: Maya Angelou and Hildegard of Bingen

Recently I co-lead a contemplative retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama. Four years ago on this site, Dewey Weiss Kramer gave an uplifting course on Hildegard of Bingen for Columbia Seminary’s Spiritual Formation Program. I decided to adapt today’s post from my reflections on that experience

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Help Me Understand

I’ve written several posts about a book on Zen Buddhism I’ve just completed reading. I found myself becoming quieter and quieter as I read a brief section each day during morning prayer. Part of it was that Zen was telling me to shut up, just be. And part of it was that the whole enterprise had the effect of a Zen koan like “the sound of one hand clapping” to still the mind.

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Come Home: Reclaiming Spirituality and Community as Gay Men and Lesbians

Come Home’s five sections include: Welcoming God’s Acceptance, Receiving Our Inheritance, Discerning Our Call, Making Our Witness, and Declaring Our Vision. Come Home! is one of Chris Glaser’s best books. Now the addition of five new chapters has expanded and improved it. Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong called the first edition “powerful, sensitive, and provocative. . . . Christians, gay and straight, need this book if we are to be the body of Christ.”

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Can We Really Listen to Donald Trump?

Let me clarify that for the purposes of this post, Donald Trump is an example of our most troubling political leaders and commentators. He is not a scapegoat, however; he is simply the most prominent among many disturbing figures in this country and the world. He’s a bipartisan choice because he has riled conservatives, liberals, and moderates alike, Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and Independents.

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The Body Still Loves to Dance

I discovered that though gay sex may be verboten, some things never change. Camp humor abounded. People were caring and sensitive and carefully huggy. Haircuts and clothing, though not overly provocative, were still stylish and colorful; in a workshop on masculinity, I heard rumblings of discontent at a suggestion that they rid themselves of their wardrobes and patronize barbers rather than hair stylists. En route to a session, two ex-lesbians were kvetching about one’s lack of punctuality and the other’s lack of patience. And two ex-gay boys next to me in the opening worship were thrilled to find someone with a car: “We need to go to a mall really bad!” one emoted while in the next breath telling his friend, “I really want to be here; I’m longing to be closer to God.”

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What Jesus Wants

I’ve been rereading Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry for a contemplative retreat I will be co-leading this spring. It’s amazing how much one can get out of what seems a simple little book each time it is read. This time I realized why Henri became popular among evangelical Christians. He emphasizes a very personal relationship with Jesus, so personal that “Christ…lives in us, that he is our true self.”

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An Early Christian #MeToo and #TimesUp Movement

  Reading Laura Swan’s The Forgotten Desert Mothers as the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and the #TimesUp movement for equal employment for women were getting underway, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels with the women who, …

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The Fundamentalist Memory Hole

Christian fundamentalism (which has parallels in other religions and ideologies) arose at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century in America and Great Britain in reaction to liberal theology and modernism. One might say it is parallel to Oliver Sacks’s above description of the regression that misguided science for centuries, imagining a solar system with Earth rather than the Sun at its center.

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Manifest Destiny

Please join me in a thought experiment I began during my morning walk. What if we are alone in the universe? What if Earth is the only celestial body in the entire cosmos that has evolved life?

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Collective Christian Memory

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” it is said, and a background in literature has taught me that in earlier periods writers often borrowed from one another without compunction or complaint.

But I was shaken, early in my activist writing career, to discover another writer had “borrowed” something I had written for her Methodist curriculum. She put her name as the author because she had “adapted” it. I had felt similarly offended when I noticed Cat Stephens failed to acknowledge on an album that “Morning Has Broken” is an old hymn that he “adapted.”

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Darwin’s Epiphany on the Meaning of Flowers

The impertinence of youth caused me once to chide my father for spending so much time on his garden “rather than on something that lasts.” “What lasts?” was his wise response, making no apology.

Possibly the better way to proclaim the Gospel is to “say it with flowers.”

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The Personal Face of God

God is not a “thing” to be grasped or known or understood absolutely; yet the entire witness of scripture and saints and Jesus is that God is within our reach.

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Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 02:00 AM PST

“The breakers steady crash…”

The end of a year seems a good time to reflect on time: what shortens it, what stretches it. The beginning of this year I eagerly read most of Alan Burdick’s Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation (2017). Though I recommend it, I found the text sometimes contradicted the title as I trudged through scientific studies and jargon.

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Thank God you were born!

Or thank the cosmos! Or evolution! Or your parents! Or “to whom it may concern”!

“Thank God you were born” is the message I often write on birthday cards or Facebook birthday messages. I intend it as my own thanksgiving for the birth of the person I’m greeting, but I realize it could be understood as a spiritual directive to the recipient as well.

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Remembering our nation’s values in these troubled times…

The recent flap about athletes “taking the knee” during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice has been called disrespectful of our armed services. I realize the anthem’s imagery is of a battle, but our national anthem is about ALL Americans who have contributed to our nation’s character, from the seamstress who made the first stars and stripes to the seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a bus. The “land of the free and the home of the brave” values protest and the courage of activists. We actually have benefited from both. Important battles have been fought with picket signs, resistance, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and votes.

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Jesus, A New Adam

Jesus is the “new Adam”—not the innocent and perfect and beautiful Ken and Barbie doll of Adam and Eve.

For me as a progressive Christian, Jesus is the “new Adam”—not the innocent and perfect and beautiful (and initially sexless) Ken and Barbie doll of Adam and Eve; rather the tried and tested, unappealing and vulnerable and wounded one, acquainted with sorrows and grief, the bearer of the sins and injustices of the world—political, religious, and personal. Treasonous and blasphemous, betrayable and deniable, because compassion was all he held dear.

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“Peace! Be Still!”

The contemplative practices of those escaping “empire,” both politically and religiously…

  How easily my calm was shattered as I started to write this post! My mouse stopped working, and I had to figure out once again how to open it, and then find a fresh battery. Still, …

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Altars in the World

The contemplative life is about finding altars everywhere!

The contemplative life is about finding altars everywhere. Celtic “thin places” where heaven shows itself on earth. Creatures who, much like Meister Eckhart’s caterpillar, are so full of God a sermon is unnecessary. Leonard Cohen’s broken places that let the light shine in. Strangers who are angels unawares. The “least of these” who are Christ himself. People who, as in Thomas Merton’s epiphany at a city intersection, do not realize they are walking around “shining like the sun.” Maya Angelou’s “caged bird,”

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Rage to Ecstasy: Praying the Psalms

That’s a gift of the Psalms, that praying them, we feel less alone. Those who wrote the psalms were imperfect, much like us. They didn’t know everything, but they had feelings about everything. And, like us, they had multiple situations and events to have feelings about, some good, even great, some bad, even evil. They reflect the human range of experiences and emotions.

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“Arrogant Autonomy (or) Loving Excentration”

I recently read that longer lived people tend to challenge themselves physically or mentally, and reading the first essay, “A Note on Progress,” tells me that this book will surely extend my life by a year. As I read and re-read the chapter, I confess my broken knowledge. Yet Teilhard’s erudition is made tenable by exquisite phrasing and enlarging metaphors. It is from this chapter that I take the title of this post.

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