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Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson

First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.


And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!

Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.


Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,



Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!


Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!


Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


Interview / chat notes:


MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

James Sire

Malcolm Guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

18:00 Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.


“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”


22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.


Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”


“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)


“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”


“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Halloween Night: A Christian Spiritual Practice?

Porch Party 2011
We have a rather long side porch. On trick-or-treat night, we fixed it up in creepy fashion. I stuffed pants and shirts and placed them on chairs to look like scarecrows. Plastic spiders, snakes, and mice were peppered near candy bowls. Votive candles and illuminated pumpkins lit the way. We used the internet to stream in 50s-60s themed music (Think Monster Mash and the rest). Out in the back, our fire pit made a toasty atmosphere on a chilly night; and coffee, warm cider, and cookies added to the warmth, on a few levels.

The most fun was meeting new neighbors, re-connecting with known neighbors, and talking with them. I realized that there isn’t another “holiday” like this one. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter usually involve travel, plenty of food prep, and a different schedule for school or work. Not Halloween. What other time do you have dozens of neighbors interacting with you on your property…at night? It’s a unique night. It’s an opportunity.

Our visitors and friends loved the decor and seemed touched by the effort. Can I say there was joy? Can I say that, for this sort of thing? Well, there was.

I had more time this year, so I sort of “caught the bug” and went all-out. I don’t think is was the Halloween spirit either. It was the Christmas one, arriving early…like department store merchandise. And in the middle of all that good cheer, I wondered, why don’t communities, groups, or Christians team up more often create a safe, fun, and loving atmosphere for these kids and families that come to visit every year? That’s a wasted opportunity, is it not?

I learned some other amazing things:

1. When you prepare to love on people, they “get it”. (Open appreciation: Everyone wore smiles, and said thank you–a lot! It was a delight to just be giving. I got more than I gave. Seriously.)

2. Being welcoming doesn’t take much money. (I was planning to buy candy for trick-or-treaters anyway. I used things I already had to decorate, and my neighbor joined in–donating decor, and cookies.) Pretty cool, huh?

3. My kids love to host and create community. In this way, they learn compassion and kindness. All on their own, they handed out treats, informed visitors of our “amenities”, interacted with the children, and helped people find their way around. How else would I have gotten to see this?

4. It’s only 2 hours. While some parties can linger, and take lot of food prep time, have logistic issues, trick-or-treat night is a specified time with a fairly easy menu. Most people make the time for it, somehow. For our neighborhood, it lasts from 6-8p.m. It’s not too hard to get some extra things ready to make it a more memorable and a special time for visitors.

5. It shines a light in the darkness. Times are tough, and there a lot of bad news and bad things happening in the world. It’s nice to give people something good. I find it totally ironic that this could or should be best served on Halloween. But why not? No day can shut out God’s Light and Love. (This also gives new meaning to the phrase “Take Back the Night”, yeah?)

Here’s some important background information
As a kid, raised in a very conservative (i.e. fundamentalist) Christian home, and my parents believed that going out for candy in costume on or near October 31st was colluding with the Devil. “It’s Satan’s Day,” I used to hear. Strangely enough, for all our protesting of it, the (unintentional) focus was more on Halloween and evil, than it was for any typical trick-or-treater. Now, that’s whack. Sometimes our efforts to be “righteous” (or whatever) have the opposite intended consequences. It seems we had it all backwards. Reinvention is key. Hospitality can happen any day or day. Take back the night with grace and love, or at least some goodwill to men!

Is Halloween a Christian Holiday?
Well, I’ll be honest and say I had no plans to hand out tracts, or influence a conversion experience on my porch. I wasn’t sharing verses or inviting people to my church. But, it was a rather blessed time. If anyone got the message that we made a spot for them in our week, then we accomplished a lot. Maybe a lot more than the typical church (which can feel like a club) can do most nights of the week.

I don’t think I’ve had the chance to touch so many lives in such a short time, as I did on that nigh. And to borrow Eric Liddell’s phrasing (think of the ancient “Chariots of Fire” film), “I feel God’s pleasure.” Parents and kids alike remember who was kind and who had a fun place to visit. And that, my friends, is shining a light. (The short answer is just, “Yes,Halloween is a Christian Spiritual practice–now“.)

Have you ever done this sort of thing for Halloween night? If not, give it a try. You can make some effort to spread more love and good cheer on this night too. If you do, let me know how it went.

Here are some photos of our night:

How to Think Better in 97 seconds

Critically thinking is something we don’t do enough. Thinking better, and making better decisions has everything to do with thinking more clearly and critically. A bad argument (aka poor logic) shouldn’t fool us, or convince us. Chances are you’re getting kicked around more than you think.

(This is supplemental material for my worldviews class.)

Listen to any radio, talk show, or news program after you understand the following logic issues, and you spot one logical fallacy after another. Now you’ll have the knowledge base to disarm flawed rationalizations and weak assertions.

So, use the next 97 seconds and pick some fallacies that appeal to you. Then, share something new you learned. Or, visit soon, and tell us the first fallacy you’ve spotted.

Absurdity · Accident · Ad nauseam · Argument from ignorance · Argument from silence · Argument to moderation · Argumentum ad populum · Base rate · Compound question ·Evidence of absence · Invincible ignorance · Loaded question · Moralistic · Naturalistic · Non sequitur · Proof by assertion · Irrelevant conclusion · Special pleading · Straw man ·Two wrongs make a right
Appeals to emotion Fear · Flattery · Nature · Novelty · Pity · Ridicule · Children’s interests · Invented Here · Island mentality · Not Invented Here · Repugnance · Spite
Genetic fallacies Ad feminam · Ad hominem (Ad hominem tu quoque) · Appeal to accomplishment · Appeal to authority · Appeal to etymology · Appeal to motive · Appeal to novelty · Appeal to poverty ·Appeals to psychology · Appeal to the stone · Appeal to tradition · Appeal to wealth · Association · Bulverism · Chronological snobbery · Ipse dixit (Ipse-dixitism) · Poisoning the well ·Pro hominem · Reductio ad Hitlerum (Blood libel)
Appeals to consequences Appeal to force · Wishful thinking
Absence paradox · Begging the question · Blind men and an elephant · Cherry picking · Complex question · False analogy · Fallacy of distribution (Composition · Division) · Furtive fallacy · Hasty generalization ·I’m entitled to my opinion · Many questions (Loaded question) · McNamara fallacy · Name calling · Red herring fallacy · Special pleading · Rationalization (making excuses) · Slothful induction
Correlative-based fallacies False dilemma (Perfect solution) · Denying the correlative · Suppressed correlative
Deductive fallacies Accident · Converse accident
Inductive fallacies Sampling bias · Conjunction fallacy · False analogy · Hasty generalization · Misleading vividness · Overwhelming exception
Vagueness and ambiguity Amphibology · Continuum fallacy · False precision · Slippery slope
Equivocation Equivocation · False attribution · Fallacy of quoting out of context · No true Scotsman · Reification
Questionable cause Animistic · Appeal to consequences · Argumentum ad baculum · Circular cause and consequence · Correlation does not imply causation (Cum hoc) · Gambler’s fallacy and itsinverse · Post hoc · Prescience · Regression · Single cause · Slippery slope · Texas sharpshooter · The Great Magnet · Unknown Root · Wrong direction
Masked man fallacy · Appeal to probability · Circular reasoning
Fallacy of propositional logic Affirming a disjunct · Affirming the consequent · Denying the antecedent · Argument from fallacy · False dilemma
Fallacy of quantificational logic Existential fallacy · Illicit Conversion · Proof by example · Quantifier shift
Syllogistic fallacy Accident · Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise · Converse accident · A dicto simpliciter · Exclusive premises · Existential · Necessity · Four-term Fallacy · Illicit major ·Illicit minor · Negative conclusion from affirmative premises · Undistributed middle

Blooming Rose of Sharon, evangelism, and spiritual conversions

For mother’s day my family got me a Rose of Sharon plant.

Rose of Sharon blossom (from my yard)
My Rose of Sharon shrubbery

As you can see it’s nearly in full bloom. Although a lot was happening in the life of this new floral addition to my yard, it is the blooming that get us to notice it most, and think of it as really “coming to life.”

Working this week doing the Bible lessons for Vacation Bible School has gotten me to thinking a lot about ordo salutis (“the order of salvation”). This refers to the series of conceptual steps within the Christian doctrine of salvation. Evangelical tradition is particularly focused on “the decision” to follow Christ, and “accepting him into our heart.” While a choice is involved here that can change one’s life, we might be noticing the spiritual blossoming when we concern ourselves primarily with a person’s sudden conversion experience.

Today, my former theology professor, Ken Miller (of the Methodist tradition), posted quite an insightful piece on spirituality that we in ministry and soul care are wise to read:

excerpt: -by Ken Miller
Let me put this out there up front: I grew up in a revivalist tradition, in which a signal experience is what initiates one into the faith. Further, in that tradition it is more similar events which act as catalysts for further growth in the faith. Crisis experiences, usually building on emotions and culminating in a trip to the front of the church/campmeeting/crusade venue and subsequent prayer, are what create significant growth in the Christian life. These experiences likely have to do with the confession of a known sinful act or habit or the sudden realization that one’s current pattern is displeasing to God.

I am not about to dismiss the potential value of theses events/experiences. But I will question their sufficiency. Too often we watch the same individuals having emotional releases, only to return to the same patterns of life. It’s a problem at least as old as the revivalist tradition itself, as John Wesley himself struggled with it and created the Methodist system as a corrective. One could conclude, as Wesley did, that those who reverted to the old ways never really tasted the saving power of Christ; others, wrongly in my reading of scripture and Christian doctrine, claim that the experience itself authenticates one as “saved” for eternity. Apparently, change is optional. Tell it to Paul.

That brings me to the subject of the day, and of the brief passage below. Transformation happens not by an emotional experience, but by the renewing of the mind. We may well experience—and many may well need—the jolt of the emotions provided by the revivalist approach. But change will only come when the mind is changed. We need to think differently about things if we are going to act differently. We need to unlearn some things, some of which were certainties before the word of God pointed in a different direction. We will have to take a look at the ideas we’ve adopted from the culture, along with the ones we didn’t even think were open to serious challenge.

But there’s more to it than turning the faith into an intellectual battle with “worldly” ideas. As Paul’s argument continues, we find that we are called into action immediately, requiring a different attitude and set of habits toward the people we live with and encounter on a regular basis. Is it the case that these ways of dealing with people constitute the renewing of the mind as much as the bigger worldview questions?

Miller’s full article here:

It’s interesting to note that if we think one must be “saved” from spiritual separation from God–by mainly the act of a conscious choice–the mentally handicapped and others are excluded. It also erodes some of the proper understanding of God’s sovereign work (as if Salvation is “up to us”).

If however we see both the hunger to seek the truth about life and God, and also we perceive the work and indwelling of God, (seen best in the fruit of the Holy Spirit), we may be noticing the blossoming of God’s continuous work (of which is largely a mystery).

It seems we must be careful to understand the entire process, including the disciple-making (training) and sanctification process, post-decision…if “the decision” is even the crux of it all in the first place. For us it may seem pivotal, but later a deeper experience could follow, yet for God, it’s one long Story that includes his work, and us (individually) and the rest of humanity.

In truth we have a limited and frail concept of what God, by his grace, gives us.

What are your ideas regarding salvation or conversion?

Some flowery information:

(found here)
Chavatzelet HaSharon (Hebrew חבצלת השרון) is an onion-like flower bulb. (Hebrew חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ) is a flower of uncertain identity translated as the Rose of Sharon in English language translations of the Bible. Etymologists have inconclusively linked the Biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning ‘bulb’, and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either ‘pungent’ or ‘splendid’ (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). The name Rose of Sharon first appears in English in 1611 in the King James Version of the Bible. According to an annotation of Song of Solomon 2:1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, “Rose of Sharon” is a mistranslation of a more general Hebrew word for “crocus”.
The most accepted interpretation for the Biblical reference is the Pancratium maritimum, which blooms in the late summer just above the high-tide mark. The Hebrew name for this flower is חבצלת or חבצלת החוף (coastal ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ). It is commonly assumed by most people in Israel that, the Sharon plainbeing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Biblical passage refers to this flower.

Likely "rose of Sharon" Mediterranean Sea flower (lily)
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