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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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!

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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).

Episode 4 (Wine Tasting Crash Course and how to do a Retreat)

Episode 4 (Wine Tasting Crash Course and how to do a Retreat)

Spark My Muse – Episode 4 (Wine Tasting Crash Course and how to do a Retreat)


This episode is brought to you by:

Narnia Retreats 

-customized, guided, quiet, refreshing


Wine segment:

Involve all the senses as to wine and enjoy wine.

Take your time and build your awareness. (This makes for a great spiritual practice as well.)

Sparking your Muse:

Today’s topic:
A personal Retreat
– critical for creativity, spiritual sensitivity, and well being.

The retreat center I go to.

Spiritual Thirst:

By the time you are thirsty, your kidney’s have sent an emergency signal to your brain. Now the brain tries to regain health for your body with urges to drink. It’s better to provide for the body ahead of time, of course. The same is true for a thirsty soul. Don’t let yourself get morbidly parched. It’s not healthy for you or anyone in your life. It’s terrible for your art and your creative muse, and your mission in the world. You have to be well to do right by others. You have to be well to do well. But most of all you have to properly BE.


Getting it wrong:

A retreat that’s more of a social gathering with activities…That’s a Protestant, Western, answer to a problem that misunderstands the question.

Catholic tradition with it’s long history of spiritual retreats and spiritual guides was too much spurned by Protestant protest against it in favor of being busy at work and productive, while too often letting the soul starve for want of divine tranquility and peace.

God is best found in stillness and when the boisterous yammering of our heart and mind are soothed by rest and unplugging in every way.

The real question is not how can I find a party so I can feel whole….but How do I find my whole way home?

Home is within.

You become quiet and you go inside. God is within. You won’t find a God of Sabbath rest “out there” or at a place.

3 Most Important Tips:

1. put it on the calendar. mark it off. It’s a vacation day.
Or as the British say it (better) “you need to go on holiday!”


Holy means set apart. That’s exactly what retreat should be.

If you take take off from work for doctor’s apps, then think of it like that.

Block off 4-6 hours at minimum

8-10 is better and 24-48 is really when things get very beneficial.

AND Go away from home and people. A retreat center, a natural setting, a private room at a church or someone’s home.


2. Do all you can to minimize all distractions and obligations.

Plan ahead. Tell people you WILL be off the grid. Not able to be contacted. at all.

Leave your phone in your car. A few hours won’t kill you. If you think that it might, or that you can’t possibility be out-of-contact…or maybe that you are too important and busy to do this.

Then you have to be even more serious able doing it. Delusion has set in. You have become blind. You are starting to die a soul death. Get away RIGHT away!

(You may be afraid of what thoughts are going to come up when things get quiet. Be brave!)

3. Let the chatter die out.
If your mind is clamoring…and it will be if you have a lot to be responsible for….then you really can’t get to a place of rest.

•  Jot everything down quickly and put it to the side. It will be there when you get back and you will be able to deal with it better.

A simple Worksheet that’s perfect for retreats:

• The SHARPENING Ritual 


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“The Tyranny of the Left Brain”: Thoughts from Len Sweet

(click photo to enlarge)

As promised, I’m writing a bit more to summarize the fascinating Leonard Sweet event at Evangelical Seminary this week. (Here’s the first one in the series.)

Dr Sweet had some interesting things to say about the legacy and effect of the Protestant Reformation which he calls “The 2nd Wave of Christianity”.

Wave 1: Catholicism (which is still growing in the global East and South).
Wave 2: Protestantism (which is in decline everywhere in the world and got its start by saying “no”.) It seems there is a shelf life to this version of Christianity. More on that in a second.
Wave 3: Pentecostalism (which is flourishing in the global East and South. Other Christian traditions are being influenced by its effect too.)

Sweet says that Pentecostalism is considered something other than Protestantism because it more fully integrates the Third Person of the Trinity (the Spirit) and perceives God as active and engaged in everyday life unlike previous versions of Christianity have done. He said that we in the West are slow to realize this seismic shift because we’ve been focused on Liberation Theology. L.T. accounted for the poor and was in essence created for the poor, but the poor didn’t pick it; instead they picked Pentecostalism.

In the West, we are in a post-Christian era. The “big-box churches” have put an end to most of the “mom & pop” churches, but mainly a reshuffling of Christians is occurring–not an increase of new devotees to Christianity. Sweet mentioned that on the West coast in the U.S. things have moved beyond simply disparaging Christians to open hostility. This promises to be the norm throughout U.S. culture, he says.

Why the “shelf-life” for Protestantism?
Protestantism was birthed just as a technological revolution hit. The moveable type of the Gutenberg printing press was one such breakthrough and Protesters of Catholicism used this technology along with their reforming ideas and desire to make the Bible available for everyone to create a major shift in how Christianity was practiced. According to Sweet, no invention was more anti-social and individualistic than the mass-produced book (you take a book and go off by yourself and absorb it). It seems, no worldview had been so individualistic until that time either (my note).

What happened soon because of that shift was the over-emphasis on the left-brain. “The Tyranny of the Left Brain”

And my what a power it’s had!
What was left behind? Mainly the arts, story using image, memories, relationships, emotional expression and recognition, intuition, creativity and a “whole person” view of Christian (body+mind+spirit).

What was favored? Reasoning, thinking, dissecting, apologetics/critical thinking, and textual language. Sometimes the right brain qualities weren’t just ignored, sometimes they were even despised. Whole sects of Christians took down art and have kept places of worship plain and non visual (More on left and right brain here). Logical left brain thinkers are often thought of as smarter even in our culture today, but it is the right side of the brain were some of the most meaningful things occur. And the combination of the hemispheres in balance makes us most fully alive.

We need both sides of our brain to be fully human.

Now something bigger than Gutenberg as come along: Google. All the information of the world is there for the taking, and the visual is back! Story is back again (and this is the format Jesus used too.) Word-heavy presentations are on the decline as many marketers have already noticed the shift and accounted for it (see ad below). Now we have interconnection of the internet and it’s been supercharged more recently by a new technological revolution even more significant than the internet: social media. (Apparently without Facebook the revolutions and movement toward democracy in the Middle East and in other important parts of the world wouldn’t have happened. So, yeah, it’s a big deal because it makes news and ideas travel so quickly.)


Social Media promises something we’ve been missing out on the interconnectedness. But, it cannot deliver fully on it’s promise, because face-to-face relationships are so transforming and vital. The internet and social media start to give us what we as humans crave, but a formidable wall persists that only the messiness of in-person interaction offers.

The shift is here and people are looking for a more holistic (whole) way of perceiving the world. Narratives, metaphors, image, story, and emotion are rushing back into the forefront and the it’s not a trend. It’s the new way the world works.

Future post: In the next post I’ll wrap up and focus on the “power of image” which includes metaphor, symbolism, and the affective powers of the brain and mind. Does Protestantism have a fighting chance?

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See how the narrative doesn’t need words much anymore?

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LENT 411 (+ link to great resource)

by Michael Arndt (click for link)

You don’t have to be catholic to get a lot out of this early spring season of lent. this time can be a perfect way to prepare your heart for the celebration that is basically the Superbowl event for Christians…Resurrection Sunday (a.k.a. Easter).

Thom Turner says that the focus of Lent is fourfold:
 Fasting
 Prayer
 Repentance
 Giving

Thom writes at the “blog-like” Everyday Liturgy site, and has made an excellent guide for Lent (click that) that I found very good indeed. Thom is an adjunct professor of English at Nyack College and the Senior Editor, forLiterary Arts of GENERATE Magazine, and is also a lay leader at The Plant, a church community in Mahwah, NJ.

I hope this helps your journey.

Original Sin

How do you understand the notion of “Original Sin”?

If we suppose for just a few seconds, for argument’s sake, that the Garden of Eden story was left out of the Bible, what changes with some of our notions of Original Sin?

Thanks for your responses.

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