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 https://www.facebook.com/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

Brainpickings.com 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).

Ben Witherington on the Imago Dei

Continued from my last post…this is Part II of summary of insights I gleaned from the Wesley Forum lecture at Evangelical Seminary, featuring Dr Ben Witherington. He gave us three presentations on the topic of the Imago Dei (image of God).


The 2nd lecture was about the Imago Dei in Jesus.

Here are some snippets I enjoyed:


(Yes, it’s the original of our English word “character”).

It refers to the impressionable wax seal used by a king to imprint his royal signet ring.


God’s charakter is manifest in Jesus and includes these qualities:

1. Heir of God, the King

2. Co-Creator

3. Perfect Reflection

4. Exact Imprint

5. He sustains by his word (logos: Jesus was and is the word)

6. Purifies sin

7. Rules over all

Witherington says that Romans 3:23 is better translated as this:

“For all have sinned and lack the glory of God.”

(This verse refers to the effaced but not erased Image of God in humans.)

SALVATION: the behavior & pattern of life.

I was saved.

I am being saved.

I will be saved.

Church is not a collection of individuals.

It’s a family and an identity centered on community, not individuality.

(In ancient times who your daddy was and who your clan was told everyone who you were. Only secondarily was your individual identity noticed (unlike how modern, North Americans experience identity).

The Imago Dei is a royal seal.

We have the imprint.

You embody the word; you become it.

• Jesus gave us the “what” – Great Commandment


(The chief imperative is forgiveness and is a Christian distinctive that breaks the cycle of bitterness and violence.)

• Jesus gave us the “how” – Great Commission

(go and tell, and make more like me– which is discipleship)

• Jesus gave us the “goal” – Great Doxology

(praise) Live in the wonder and love of God.


When we pray in Jesus’ name we must always consider this question:

“Would I sign Jesus’ name to this?”


The next post will conclude my notes on the final lecture of Dr Witherington.

You won’t want to miss it!

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The Myth of Ordinary Time

photoDo you have time to read this?

That may depend on what language you speak.

Have you ever felt like when you’re creating or otherwise “in the zone” you pass into a strange pocket in the space-time continuum (or whatever) where the passage of time appears to almost be standing still. Then, when you’re jolted from your pocket, you find that time has actually moved along far faster than you would have guessed.

That is likely what it’s like (all the time) for someone living near the equator. More on that in a moment.

There’s something about relativity here and we’ll unpack it.

Consider too, the other side. Sometimes you are very conscious of time maybe because you’re in a bad meeting or you’d rather be somewhere else and the hands on the wall clock seem to barely move. That is because you are perceiving time in relation to other things and not experiencing is as it passes.

So, it seems experienced time works in an eerily timeless way (having no easily determinable passage of time), and referred to time (Ex. “That man spoke for 20 minutes.”) is a measurement or qualifier of time, but not at all a direct experience of time. It refers to only a memory of certain period, but one that was not recognized necessarily in the moments in which it truly happened. Time is marked outside of itself. So…

Time is never really ordinary.

Perception is powerful. Here’s some potent proof.

Time near the Equator:

Residents of places near the equator experience time completely differently than people who live in temperate climates. You already know this to be true.

Maybe you’ve heard of “island time”…

…if you’ve ever vacationed on a warm tropical island, things just mosey along. Maybe things will get done and maybe not. People get to things when they do, or whatever. “Hey, Relax Mon”. It can be a hassle when you’re not used to it. However, time is literally experienced differently.

It’s not the heat bringing a lack of motivation. They are used to the heat. It’s not a mere lack of a work ethic. It’s not simply enjoying the weather too much to be bothered with revving up to tackle hectic things.

It turns out that the passage of time is harder to discern because markers are missing.

Most often, for humans, change punctuates time in our awareness.

An event (accident, holiday, birth, death, full moon, dawn, solar eclipse, victory, loss, etc.), or a change in weather are the most common markers. With more changes–especially ones that involve rain and snow, brilliant leaf color changes, or a blast of Spring blooming–that means that our perception of time’s passage are further clarified. Our memories are literally shaped differently and therefore our brains are, at the cellular level, wired differently. Perception is relative. Variety, repetition, and influence change the brain’s capturing of data which determines the comprehending of time. It affects the awareness people have and the activities people undertake.

Seasons, and the things that are attached to them (growing of food, for one example) make the ability to plan more perceptible and pronounced. Need to buy wheat seed for Spring in a few months? Better save now. Plants grow all-year-round? Then, nevermind.

Residents of equatorial climates do not experience the massive change in seasons, plus they do not experience the great shortening of daylight either. For them, unless they’ve been influenced by outsiders, the passage of time happens in the present. Right now, or it’s not really real. 

For pole-dwellers (people living in the northern and southern regions of the globe) time is usually experienced two ways:

1. through remembering past events

(A locked down thing that doesn’t truly exist except in the mind)


2. through planning (projecting to the future to a not yet real time and place).

Pole-dwellers spend far less time–“Zen-like”–in the here and now.

In fact, being “stayed in the present” can be discredited as somehow wasteful by those who like to plan. Interesting argument of which is wasteful, and why, right?

For pole-dwellers it’s an ironic thing too, because if your mind is not attached to the present, you essentially are not fully aware of living at all in real-time…Instead you are aware of life passing in relation to something else. Time perhaps is more like a point on a map–over there–more than an experience. Perhaps a counterfeit experience compared to the real thing or real-time? I’m not sure.

Or on the other side, near the equator, planning might seem pointless or amorphous. A sort of figment.

• Living solely in the present has disadvantages too. It comes packaged with a (undetectable) lack of impetus that can help us make all manner of changes or improvements possible. The checkpoints are missing. Our interaction with time movement is  different. It passes like “being in the zone” or perhaps like standing midstream in an ever-changing flow of water. Motion. Life is in real-time and un-captured.

• Living in the future or past (as I have been trained to do) is like staring off at fixed but ultimately untouchable points. Triangulation.

I mainly live in the “trigonometry of time”. Do you?

Certain cultures actually have no form of future tense.

(Did you absorb that?)

For them, there is no language or solid way to truly express or encapsulate something ahead of this very moment.

BOOM. That’s crazy different.

Sicilian and ancient Hebrew are just two examples.

Now brace yourself. If you haven’t guessed already…

Yes, that means anytime you hear the words “shall” or “will” in Jewish/Christian scripture you are hearing the imposition of your own cultural and linguistic bias placed onto the original text and meaning.

(Thinking of the implications could just blow your mind, right? Now, go ahead, open your Bible and find a few misleading verses and re-understand them.)

Note: New Testament Scripture was written in (ancient) Greek and does contain a future tense. It was however based on beliefs and texts of people who did not have a native reference to an equivalent future tense option nor the applied meaning future tense indicates, necessarily or at all.

Binary vs. the not yet
Often in equatorial geographic regions, there literally is no way to really say “I will work.” Instead it’s “I work.” Binary. Sometimes inflection is used to draw a sort of distinction or a qualifier, like referring to a (future) month or day. That’s a watered down communicative incident compared to the full use of future tense we take for granted in English, and the closest language to English: German.

The language difference has even been studied scientifically to see if things like breaking habits (like smoking), or the activity of saving or spending money, or gaining weight are different because of language. Click the link to see the results.

What are some of your thoughts on the passage of time, future tense, or living right now?
Whew. Ice pack for my brain, please.

IF this post was interesting, please like or share it…now. (In real time.) :)



So, I’ve noticed something:

It’s really common for creative types (musicians, writers, artists, filmmakers, etc) to get into a serious funk, especially come Autumn season. Whether it’s the chilly weather, the shorter periods of daylight, the pre-holiday blitz, or whatever else…plenty of us hit up against FUNK.

I’m not talking about catchy music (Funk as in…Soul music with a greater emphasis on beats, influences from rhythm and bluesjazz and psychedelic rock). No, I’m talking about the feeling that something is wrong in the universe.

I was all up in a funk when I read an article from Tim Ferriss. If this successful Mr Moneybags type who’s arguably America’s favorite life hacker gets hit up with a phase of Funk, why should I think it’s strange for me to splash into one. I started listening and looking around, and it turns out it’s “a thing”.

Perhaps it comes out as cynicism, annoyance, restlessness, or ennui.



  [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; French ahn-nwee]  


a feeling of utter weariness and discontent
resulting from satiety or lack of interest; 
The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.

(ennui isn’t mere boredom though, the connotation is really more of a life-weariness…a “funk”)

Maybe it’s just low-grade blah or maybe it’s full-blown depressive feelings.
Whatever it is, it’s common. You are not alone.


We have to push through. Yes, Winter will be long, but we can use the time to germinate our ideas and bloom in a few months.
If you’re feeling the onslaught of FALL FUNK let me know!
We’ll check up on each other. We’ll un-funk-ify!

When & How to ask a question in class

If you’re a student or a teacher it’s nice to have a quick primer for the classroom environment.

Teaching styles and applications vary (and should vary) to accommodate the variety of learning styles and to improve retention.

A group environment where sharing is invited doesn’t and shouldn’t stay in the format need for some instruction.

But, when a lecture format occurs…some guidelines can help students and teachers alike.

By pure chance I landed on this…. (tell me what you think!) Click image enlarge.



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