Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quote du Jour (Faith Department): "Irreverence is prophetic..."

This morning I woke up to an exchange about a HuffPo article between two of my fave Twitterati, @RevDaniel and @Drtysxyministry. Title of the article? "Irreverence Is the New Reverent." How could I not click through?

I did and once again, I must thank the Holy Spirit (and Twitter) for guiding me to exactly what I needed to read because lately I've been flaying myself for my tendency to laugh-snort (often derisively) at what gets trotted out as piety and faith, especially within the institutional church.

Even though I absolutely know that irreverence, especially in the form of humor, is an essential way to deal with church cray, I've been also feeling a wee bit...something. Ashamed? Guilty? Probably just weary.

In any event, this article by Cindy Brandt provided some great reminders about the value of irreverence. Much to read and ponder but here's a quote that zooms in on the essence of her passionate advocacy for irreverence:

The question isn't how we can find faith in irreverence but how we can find faith without it. Without questioning, doubt, and calling out what's real, how can faith be truly genuine? . . . The irreverent help us walk our spiritual journey with firmer footing to explore the boundaries beyond institutional faith. ─  Cindy Brandt

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Love via the Interwebs

Feeling known, seen, loved, and entertained by friends! This time by Beth Felice (@bfelice), a communications minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri who used Blingee to create the GIF below.

I met Beth via Twitter and have talked with (read: commiserated) her via email and phone about...stuff. She put this ridiculousness together after seeing a series of tweets about GIFS. I'm tickled that she's paying proper homage to my tweets about tiaras, pandas, #kitteh Mozart, and faith.

Gifs on Twitter?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What I'll Be Doing On My Summer Not-Vacation...and Beyond


Dear faithful and steadfast* readers,

Y'know how I always vow that I'm never ever ever no way ever going to write another book? It's such an absurd and uber-dramatic vow that I really ought to stop making. 

I've just signed another book contract with Liturgical Press. The working title is so boring I almost don't want to trot it out, but here it is [Snooooooze Alert! Receiving suggestions for something better!] Engaging Spiritual Practice: A Guide for 21st Century Seekers

This will be my guide for self-identified seekers who have tried some, many or even all of the classic spiritual practices and then, with no shortage of frustration, given up on some, many, or even all of them. 

Hand-to-heart-and-God, I proposed this long before knowing about or reading Never Pray Again, a book I recently reviewed on this blog. My book will, of course, be different (although the authors of Never Pray Again and I do share a certain je ne sais quoi writing style.)

Manuscript due...soon. Time management should be interesting, given my Mayo Clinic for Social Media responsibilities (see: new #MCCSM gig) and upcoming participation on a panel at the Stanford MedX conference in September.

See the picture posted above this text? That's a photo of my husband, Dan Webster, witnessing my signing of the Lit Press contract, artistically rendered (using to capture my interior experience of...everything.

*Steadfast relative to reading my stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Never Pray Again: Lift Your Head, Unfold Your Hands, and Get to Work

Never Pray Again: Lift Your Head, Unfold Your Hands, and Get To Work
Aric Clark, Doug Hagler, Nick Larson
Chalice Press
Paperback: 160 pages (also available for Kindle and other e-readers)

My big plan was to zip through Never Pray Again and post a review within days of receiving my copy. (Yes, I requested a paperback edition so I could scribble in the margins.) Well, that sure didn't happen. In fact, it couldn't because Aric Clark, Doug Hagler, and Nick Larson have written a book way too thoughtful and thought-provoking for a fast read.

Clark, Hagler, and Larson are passionate, articulate, wise, and witty advocates of faith-in-action (i.e., Gospel living). Here's how they explain their book's provocative title: [Long pull quote but worth the read as well as the typing out so that you can read it!]
"We named this book Never Pray Again because it is our conviction that prayer is one of these ideas that has too much baggage to do its job anymore. In our own lives, it needed to be set free from the rock imprisoning it before it could be much use.We noticed as we looked at the ancient liturgical structure of worship, and examined each type of prayer usually found there, that if we simply removed the word "prayer" we unleashed something vital and compelling. Instead of prayers of praise, you just have the imperative 'Praise!' Instead of praying your confession, you are urged to 'Confess!' Instead of pleading privately for help from God, you're compelled to publicly 'Beg!' ....
We have not tried to write a list of things to do, but rather to remove all the excuses we have for not doing what we already know we must. We encourage you to carve out less time for prayer and less time for spiritual practices that steal time away from going and doing." 
What you'll discover in Never Pray Again are short, engaging chapters that begin with a cautionary tale and end with one to inspire action. Each chapter includes "Experiments in...", questions inviting further action -- valuable for individuals as well as groups. Threaded throughout the book are the authors' very personal stories about moving into spiritual action, stories that are sometimes poignant, sometimes amusing, and always instructive.

Other reviewers (see below for links) have zoomed in on their favorite chapter. Given my long-time involvement with healthcare and interest in dying and death, it should come as no surprise that I found the chapters, "Heal!" and "Grieve!" especially compelling.

If you do anything in and around ministry with people who are physically ill, psycho-spiritually wounded, or managing the stigma living with disability, "Heal!" is a must-read chapter. In it, the authors challenge prevailing notions of what it means to be well or healthy. They also have at (persisting) spiritual nonsense about what God is/isn't/can/can't/will/won't do to "heal" people.

They continue this discussion in, "Grieve," this time taking on human projections about God's motivation for allowing and possibly even causing suffering. Even more insightful and valuable is the authors' commentary about how, because of what have become normative ways of managing (read: avoiding) dying and death, "we tend to be dysfunctional in grief." If you read nothing else, please read the section, "An Epilogue for Tears" (p. 117) in this chapter.

There's more, of course but I encourage you to discover it for yourself by buying Never Pray Again and getting down to it as soon as possible. Yes, even at the beach or poolside!

See what other enthusiastic reviewers have written:

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Christ Has No Online Presence But Yours..."

In the years since I adapted this much-loved prayer by St. Teresa of Avila, I've been approached by several people who wanted to use it in a music video, on a prayer card, for a handout. Of course I say "yes" and have been delighted to see what emerges.

Not like it's a contest, but this video created by my dear and uber-creative friend, ELCA pastor Rev. Jason Chesnut (@crazypastor) is the best! Check out his other videos, in which he invites us to think, feel, and occasionally and laugh snort about faith. Visit: The Slate Project.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quote du Jour (Health, Wellness, and Healthcare Department): "This is about listening..."

Last week was a wild one for having my worlds of engagement collide, overlap, and collide. Which worlds? Digital ministry. Healthcare social media. Patient advocacy. Happy to report that the transition from one environment to another is feeling more seamless than it has in years, thanks be to God. And social media. Also coffee, carefully titrated into my bloodstream.

Within the past 10 days I've attended a Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media planning meeting Rochester, MN and then delivered a workshop and keynote during eFormation at Virginia Theological Seminary. Got home in time to attend Tuesday night's #ChSocM (church social media chat). Two days later, my new role with the Mayo's Social Media Health Network was announced.

Such uber-hubbub explains the more-than-slight lag in posting this Quote du Jour from a June 5th post titled, She's Not Here Right Now. It appeared on the afternoon nap society, a wonderful blog written by Twitter friend and Stanford MedX mentor Sarah Kucharski [aka,  +Afternoon Napper (@AfternoonNapper)].

Her post explains why and how she's redistributing her time and refocusing on writing. (She's an extraordinarily fine narrative nonfiction writer.) Since I'd followed some of her process via Twitter and Facebook, I was doing more skimming than deep reading until I got to, "This is about the Kingdom of the Unwell and the Kingdom of Healers laying down arms to unite as the Kingdom of People." Yes, yes, yes. Here's the context:

Advocacy is a word that I am using broadly to characterize this work for which I did not go to school, this proclivity for all things health care related, for fostering the patient voice in medicine. This isn't about waving around a colored flag and issuing a list of complaints. This is about getting elbow-deep in the quagmire of policies and prejudices to search for answers that can help change the system. This is about listening, analyzing and doing. This is about the Kingdom of the Unwell and the Kingdom of Healers laying down arms to unite as the Kingdom of People.