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

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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).

My first sermon

I hesitate to title the post this way… for a few reasons.

Some of it is just my baggage, plain and simple. Some of it is that if I don’t call it a “sermon”… and I fail, I won’t feel so discouraged. (Yes, I’m being honest, and not just wise cracking today…well, not too much.) Yes, I need prayer, and I’ll thank you for petitioning God for me. I mostly just want to get out of the way, read the Bible, mention a few things, and let God do the piercing/talking to the heart. I don’t have to hold his hand in all this, but I sure do need him to hold mine.

This Sunday, I’ll be speaking for the Sunday morning during the Camp Swatara chapel service. I’ve spoken at retreats, prayer breakfasts, Sunday school classes, small groups, of single or mixed gender, but I haven’t be asked to be a Sunday morning guest preacher until now. And before that starts to mess with my mind, I’m going to deconstruct it, and get reasonable. What will happen is that I’ll be spending a few minutes with my siblings in Jesus. I’ll be sharing some things I’ve learned, and continue to learn, and try, as I thirst and hunger for my Savior. It’s not a gig at all. It’s a whole lot more like a chance to realize acutely how silly I am, and how much I need God’s help.

I’ll be sharing about the richness and power of The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13); and how it tells us so much about God, and so much about how we are invited to be a part of his Bigger Plan, now, and in Kingdom Come.

I made a handout for the children to color, and the adults to use to join with me in prayer at the end.

Together, we’ll get on the same page, and tell God who He is, so we learn it better. We’ll all get on the same page to apprehend how we are a part of his reality and plan, and untwist our independent thinking where we think that it’s somehow the other way around. And hopefully, we’ll see the centerpiece is forgiveness and grace, and the rest of it makes zero sense if that part isn’t the main thrust.

coloring page for my Sermon time (No birds were burnt in the making of this drawing.)
Coloring pg resource found here.

Peace with God (A Prayer)


Peace with God


(Written for individuals, or use in hospice, end of life, or redemptive ministry.)


I know you are my Creator, and I am not simply material that will return to the earth.

I desire peace with you, and to lay my burdens down.

(Here one may add specific concerns, guilt, offenses, or things that have made one’s heart heavy.)

I know you offer me relief, forgiveness, grace, and acceptance, freely–as a gift. I gratefully receive this from you.

You are the Highest, a Three-in-One God, who made me. Out of pure love, you redeemed me before time began, and during human history through the life, death, and resurrection of your Incarnation, The Christ, and you will comfort me with your Presence now. As I leave this world, receive me into your most loving Presence.

I am your child, coming to you.


(Download your own copy for use, or distribution click here)



In considering asocial, antisocial, or any dissociative actions–be they criminal, unhealthy, or merely not optimal for human growth and well being–I track onto a pattern of three things: A break with community, check and balances, and loss of empathy for others, seemingly inversely proportionate to one’s increase in self-preoccupation.

As I personally researched and considered police chaplaincy, I first presumed I would be working with anyone in need at the police station, be it law enforcement personnel, victims and their families, or perpetrators. In a conversation lasting multiple hours with an officer, and the head of a top chaplaincy program in the country, I was told that this program was actually only for law enforcement officers, related staff, and their families. This was fine, I’d love to help who ever I can, I thought. But, was there a crisis going on? Did these pillars of the community need spiritual help so badly?

For starters, I was told that the problem of alcohol abuse rates was severe. At least 33% had serious problems. So, if I’m pulled over, 1 of 3 of those people self-medicates with booze? I thought. Ugh! Also, officers learned quickly not to trust anyone-not citizens, not co-workers, and not family members. Gaining their trust would be slow. I was told that they kept all their problems to themselves, and were loners. This was all very sad news. It did not bode well for the health, spiritual or otherwise for this group. Maybe I should try working with drug addicts, I thought. Would there be much progress or rewarding experience in this perspective ministerial pursuit? Should I bother? What a sorry situation, I mused. 

He told me the great majority die within 3 years of retiring, if they retire at age 65. The need for caring, spiritual guidance was urgent. Most police, even in major cities, have nothing in place at all to help them cope with the stresses of life and career. At least this fairly recent program saw the need. I told him I didn’t have the credentials of ordination, but after he heard some of my educational qualifications, and our lengthy conversation on spiritual matters, we solidified a common bond as spiritual siblings desiring to truly be of service. A chaplain application came in the mail in the days following our conversation.

After beginning their careers, these law enforcers soon disassociate from the world, and have no one to confide in. This way, they are undone–soon eaten up alive, from the inside. In reality, they are the worst kinds of people to have in powerful positions, once that begins. This is why the chaplaincy program is so needed, so their spirits (entire selves) can be fully alive, and at their healthiest. In this way, they get all the life-giving benefits of community. It’s no different for civilians, and, in fact, it’s needed for criminals behind bars, too. (Many prisons have chaplains.)

The stress of the job might not flesh out precisely the same way for civilians as it does for police personnel, but the stakes can be just as high, ultimately–life or death.

These law enforcers who started out hoping to help the public, must not seclude themselves, and handle their own problems. If they do, they hurt the public, their families, and obviously, themselves. The same goes for the average Joe or Jane. The misguided loner uses the same coping tactic as the criminal, and begins to posses the same psychological makeup of the criminal, once isolation is chosen. Criminals are classic antisocial personalities, with an inflated ego, and little or no regard for others. Talk about an ironic twist!

This isn’t just a psychological problem, or circumstantial situation, but, of course, it is a whole person issue–a spiritual issue, [or you could say, an issue of one’s spirit (entire self.)]

A great many people can get sucked into handling their problems alone. Some personalities are bent in the direction of thwarting companionship more readily, or shying away from community “styled” resolutions. And, sometimes these choices break down on gender lines, cultural lines, or generational lines.

As the healing power of communing and community salves the wound of isolation, the culpability is renewed in that needy person. A sense of self-respect based on respectability, and accountability is cemented. The honor, regard, and bonding that occurs invigorates individual and communal purpose, and forges new pathways for empathy, specifically and generally, pulling that person away from the vortex of selfishness, self-loathing, or self-absorption.