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).

We *become* prayer

We *become* prayer

 I’m so excited to offer my digital book “Life As Prayer” for free AGAIN today.

My list of (4) books for kindle HERE

It’s our sufferings, the darkness, the doubt…that happens not apart from God. Slowly through it he makes us into a living prayer. That is what the book is about: Practicing the Presence of God in each moment. Transformation. I dearly hope you enjoy it.

Is not existence wild in such a way that we can be continually feel surprised. How foreign and out of sorts it can be, and yet why?…This world is all we’ve ever known. Life, to me, always feels like it doesn’t quite fit. Through the joy and sorrow the triumph and pain we continue becoming. It’s as if we are creatures within God’s lucid dream.

Belonging isn’t the absence of longing…it’s longing together

 In belonging our longings don’t ebb, rather we long together. We be and we long–ever still.

Secret Project unveiled!

Secret Project unveiled!

So I wrote some stuff about the wonderful, hobbling, bare-foot, monk Brother Lawrence and how his ways can be of great spiritual help to us.

In these times, as much as any, it’s such a comfort to have a felt awareness of God’s Presence.

It’s now on AMAZON for Kindle. (hey, it’s only $2.99) 

It’s called Life As Prayer: Revived Spirituality Inspired by Ancient Piety.

Oh, and I have 3 more digital books listed too. (Click on “Who’s Lisa” for more info on those.)

(Some long-time readers will remember that the title “Life As Prayer” was the title of my first WordPress blog about 4 years ago. I’ve been at this project for a while. It’s a slow simmer kind of thing. Only now have I decided it was time to make it more broadly available because the technology has reached a point of optimal ease-of-use! Now it’s a perfect time to set it free and see what God does with it.)

It would be really lovely if you could write a review or spread the news if you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, write something awful and spread vicious lies! :)

Or , if you’re just zealous in general about Brother Lawrence or prayer, have at it. That’s good too.

So who out there doesn’t know about Brother Lawrence, anyway? Let me know!

Thank you. More soon, my friends.



(box photo source)

Guest Post by Greg Richardson (Strategic Monk)

Please enjoy a guest post by Greg Richardson. Spiritual Direction has been utilized by Christians (and other seekers of truth and growth), for nearly 2,000 years. Before the age of psychoanalysis (which began as an atheist response to wellness) , people trusted spiritual directors for “soul care” (whole care of mind, body, spirit, emotions, etc).

Greg reveals why there is a renewed interest in this area, and how God, through his Holy Spirit, teaches us about the reality of God’s omni-benelovence and omni-presence, as we walk with him. A spiritual guide is very helpful on the journey.

Greg Richardson

From Greg:
Spiritual direction is the art of spiritual conversation and listening carried out in the context of a trusting relationship.

Spiritual direction follows a model drawn from biblical and other ancient practices. When Nicodemus comes to Jesus in John 3, for example, Jesus guides him by asking deep questions and listening to how he responds. It has a long history, including the early Desert Mothers and Fathers, roots in Celtic Christianity, and many other examples.

Interest in spiritual direction is now increasing, at a time when people thirst for spiritual depth and connection but grow disenchanted with traditional forms of organized religion. Silence and listening are rarer and rarer in our time. We long to know that someone is listening to us so we can hear ourselves.

A spiritual director is a faith companion who listens to your life stories with an ear for helping you discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. God is the true guide and director, while your human spiritual director is like a coach or midwife, supporting you as you pay attention and respond to the inner voice of God. The director is primarily interested in your experience of God and how you can follow God’s call. That process is a spiritual journey into the truth about God, yourself, your relationships, your work, and the world.

The premise of spiritual direction is that God is present and active in your everyday life in a multitude of ways that we often do not notice. When you slow down, breathe, begin to reflect and take a long look at what is happening around you, you begin to become more aware of your experience of God’s loving presence. The better you know yourself, the more you know God; the more you know God, the more deeply you know yourself and your direction and purpose. Intimacy with God leads into transformation, healing, and action.

Spiritual direction takes many forms. I have met with people in churches, in coffee shops, and in homes. I go on walks with people, listen to them via email and telephone, and meet with people on Skype. I have met with people once at a retreat or a conference, intermittently at key points in their lives, or regularly each week or each month over a period of years. With some people I say very little; with others I do more prompting or suggesting.

People tell me many things. Some people confess things of which they have been ashamed for years. Some people get angry, some cry, some laugh. I listen, ask questions, and help them hear their own stories.

I am a spiritual director. I am trained, certified, and experienced, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. I spend time listening to people’s stories; we let go of the past and put concerns about the future out of our minds so we can spend time in the present.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director, leadership coach, and consultant to nonprofit organizations in Pasadena, California. He is a recovering lawyer and professor, as well as a lay oblate connected to the New Camaldoli Benedictine Monastery & Hermitage in Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, you can reach him at StrategicMonk@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter, here: @StrategicMonk

Do you have questions for Greg? Please leave you questions or thoughts.

Prayer from the Path (Thomas Merton)

Thomas Merton

My Lord God

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following

your will does not mean

that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that my desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have that desire

in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything

apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this

you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost

and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear,

for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me

to face my perils alone.

– Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

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