Eps 124: Challenging the Dominant Narrative, Guest LaKisha Lockhart

It’s time for another Wednesday audio delivery of Spark My Muse.

Scroll down for the AUDIO PLAYER to listen.

Visit the Spark StoreHERE
What better way to show your support for this program and sport the snazzy new logo, too!

Sign up for the occasional/monthly-ish Newsletter list HERE and you’ll get a special coupon code to use at the store.
Look at this mug from the Spark Store. It longs for a hot beverage- only you can provide.

Or, want to help with a one-time gift?

A contribution from you makes making this program possible.
Use the button below to give a gift:

Today’s guest is LaKisha Lockhart.

More information, featured material, links, and EXTRAS for this episode are FREE immediatelyCLICK HERE.

Listen now with the

 You can be a Spark My Muse hero/helper in these two ways:
1. Share the program with another person today.
2. Leave a Rating / Write a Review on iTunes HERE.

Listen to recent episodes:

Pick an option that works best for you!

Episode 21 (PART II Tom Reynolds) “Care isn’t so much “doing for” but “being with”

Will you help support the show?
You can help me pay the bills by purchasing this useful and encouraging book!


Tom Reynolds
Tom Reynolds, PhD


Shownotes: PART II
A conversation with Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, author Tom Reynolds


Tom joined the Emmanuel College (part of the University of Toronto) faculty in 2007. He is committed to an interdisciplinary, practical, and relational vision of theology, and his teaching and research address a range of topics related to constructive theology (particularly the doctrine of God and theological anthropology), theological method, intercultural and interfaith engagements, contextual theologies and globalization, philosophical theology, disability studies, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

His recent Articles

Email: tom.reynolds@utoronto.ca

MIN 00:30

Tom on Theodicy – The question of why does God allow suffering and how should we think about suffering.


How would Tom, as a theologian answer the question, “Why would a sovereign God allow a person to be born disabled and encounter such suffering?”


The Why questions and the answers are messy, ongoing, and evolving. These answers are limited and open to ongoing revision.


Reframing needed. Question the question and its suppositions about seeing suffering first and foremost as the issue.


If we are pitying a disabled person and seeing them how we would interpret suffering, we might be off base.


Exclusion as suffering. Social suffering is something we can alleviate as the church or community.


Tom on the central questions of Theodicy.


What would a good world be? Interdependent and that holds up the preciousness and fragility of life and human experience as valuable. Good things can be fragile things.


Does God cause suffering and determine it? Maybe it’s (all) unfolding for us in mysterious ways.


Book of John, chapter 9: The man born blind.

Who sinned? (disciples of Jesus thinking of blindness as a curse)

So the glory of God can be revealed. (What might that mean that we haven’t understood yet. [Lisa])

The story is less about curing the disabled and more about reveal Jesus’ power and legitimacy as the Messiah.


NT Wright author of Evil and the Justice of God

(on the Problem of Evil)

• God as the Incarnation steps into human suffering as a means to assuage it and also, in that, provides us a model for how to encounter it in the world ourselves, practically speaking.

The answers to suffering can become “incarnational”, not cerebral and (held) at a distance.


The why questions signal a (good) unsettledness which can be productive…


1. God is bigger than our questions and we should feel free to engage in dialogue with God and each other about God.

2. And because it calls us to live into the world and the lives of people will engage who ask, “Where are you?” and we can be there in presence and not (just) with answers.



(The heart of Incarnational living.)


In many cases God’s own presence is us to each other.


“Care isn’t so much “doing for” but “being with”.”


1 in 5 families regularly encounters a serious disability of some kind.


We (as a family) chose to continue to come to church even though it was sometimes messy so he (and everyone) could figure out how to make it work. (Lisa)


How can people in Christian Communities or leaders in Christian communities do better when it comes to being truly hospitable  and caring well for people with disabilities.


Training ministers to come along side is important.


In his mission and intro to Theology class, what is framed is practical wisdom lived out in relationships of caring regard with other people. (not in the academic halls or in isolation).


On developing the perception to see/understand differently and to see places where people have been harmed by certain ways of seeing these…like the healing narratives…illness as curses from God, or metaphors of seeing and hearing language and attitudes (able-ism) for example.


How to show consideration:

Asking before you assist someone. Or asking how you can best help and not presuming that you know (or know better).

Listen first, then do.


Ministry doesn’t have to be deficit-focused to the “needy”…but rather possibility focused.

As all people of resources and gifts [are] welcome among the community…this turns things upside-down.


Think of people as sites of wisdom that help a community of belonging.


1 Cor 12:25

Members having the same care for one another. All can care and contribute.

Living out the image of God with shared affinity.


Transformative and vulnerable communion within our communities…being together.


[There is] dignity in participation. (Lisa)

Allowing people to serve along side means that we are equal.


Equality isn’t sameness. Difference doesn’t mean a hierarchy.


(Tom) Music is my therapeutic other life.


A Call for Help!
Will you help me meet my goal of raising $1,000.00 in August to keep Spark My Muse going? Use the Donate button on the left sidebar. Thank you for listening!

The Letter X: The Key to understanding the Bible (tribute to Dave Dorsey)


This post is part of the continuing series I’m doing to honor the late Dr David Dorsey.

Don’t forget to read the others:

1. Faith = Eggs in a Basket
2. Follow Mosaic Laws?

The letter X.

It’s the shape of something. It’s the shape of the structure of how the Pentateuch (and Joshua) was composed. It was authored carefully with a structure that helped ensure it was remembered in a world where people memorized stories and rarely wrote them down or read them.

Chiastic refers to the letter X (“X” is Chi, in Greek, of course).

Check out the wikipedia article on ancient literary structure:

a field that Dave contributed to that is likely one of his most enduring legacies.

It shreds the 18th century theory, borne out of cultural ignorance and literary ignorance of ancient texts. One that has prevailed for too long: The Documentary hypothesis. (This theory came about when a French medical professor (Jean Astruc) thought the Pentateuch was very oddly written. No, he wasn’t a biblical scholar or historian, sadly, but he read the Bible and wanted to postulate. (Soon after, German liberal scholars jumped on his theory, expounded on it, and proliferated it as it aided their objectives in the 19th Century.)

Reading the non linear narrative form had him confused. He postulated that multiple authors at different times probably wrote the text and then it was cobbled together. After all, some things were mentioned twice, but how could that be? Must be a mistake or proof of multiple authors lending their two shekels.

Modern narratives are written in a linear form, usually, hence the puzzlement.

Astruc was a bright man, but his acumen was clearly restricted to the medical sciences. He had never pieced together that all the ancient texts tended to be written this chiastic way as a memory aid because they had been transmitted orally at first, sometimes for many hundreds of years. The book of Job is a very good example of this. It dates back to long before Abraham.

Thankfully, our understanding of the ancients is much improved now and it’s easy to spot this same structure in ancient tales like the Iliad and the Odyssey, for instance. Perhaps it is because of the stronghold of liberal bias in the scholarly world that this poor rabbit trail tends to still be esteemed. (Truth be told, its prevalence also works toward discrediting or tempering aspects of the Bible which is a happy agenda for a great many scholars.) So, this 18th century misunderstanding still prevails.

As one understands the chiastic structure of the bible, the main points are easily underscored. The Mosaic Law for instance, centers on the importance of protecting the weak (in that culture: females, foreigners, the the poor classes), the marginalized, and the outcast. The Law then, is an excellency picture of the heart of God that should be the same as ours.

So Remember:
The climax and thrust of a passage in the first 6 books stands out in the middle and the supporting text flanks it on either side. A sandwich of meaning: the meat is in the middle.

If you’d like to understand it for yourself here’s the best book for that:



In my final tribute post, I’ll share about Dorsey’s most famous archeological discovery. It’s a great story!

“Power of Image, Play, and Identity”: Thoughts from Len Sweet

Success Kevin T. Houle via Compfight


This is the last bit of reflection on the Leonard Sweet event hosted by Evangelical Seminary this week. (Here’s the first one in the series. Here is the second post.)

 Sweet claims we are living in TGIF times.

Thank God It’s Friday?






Sweet leaves out YouTube which is huge omission. I sense that slipping a V into his acronym wouldn’t be as nifty. (But, I think he’d agree with me that it’s worth inclusion in any assessment of how our current culture learns and is entertained.)

Notice this: All but one of these vehicles of media prominently feature images instead of text. Twitter is driven by 140 text characters (and usually less than that) and this apparently is enough to be radical. Though Twitter is often used for tiny newsy bursts and quotes, tweets tend to include internet links to articles or videos which include visuals.

A new image driven age emerged with televisions in every home in the 1950-1960s. Film? It got super popular and this has never been more true in our current age. Can you think of any other time when you shut off your phone for 3 hours? No. People hate that, but they will sacrifice what that love for something they love even more: Cinema. Nothing solidified the domination of our image age more than the advent of images on the internet. Add to that, the innovative ways of sharing Videos and Images on devices we routinely carry (laptops and smart phones) a major and permanent shift in how we prefer to engage the world occurred. Period.

So what?

Well, we haven’t adjusted, and that is going to really matter. And soon.

Protestants have a substantive Identity crisis because they have lost the story. Disciples have stories: Guiding narratives that set them apart so they don’t have to discover who they are; they can just move forward and be innovative and transformative.

Sweet used the example of Identity in the Jewish culture and ethic group:

• There are about 7 billion people living in the world.

• There are only about 13 million Jews (How much of the world’s population %? is that? Scant.)

• Those with Jewish heritage make up  whopping 25% or so of Noble Prizes winners, Oscar winners, Pulitzers, Tonys, and many other commendations for exceptionality in a variety of fields. How can this be?

A bunch of social science research projects tell us that what lies behind the wild success is namely a firmly formed Identity.
By 12 years old they know who they are, where they come from, and they see themselves in the larger Story (by religious imperative and rites actually: it’s mandatory).

• Jewish culture also has many times of “play”, that is, festivals that tell them who they are. The sit around the table speaking about and interrogating the Story also. This creates a solidified Identity for flourishing.

The last tidbit from the Len Sweet event: Play Ethic

In our mad rush to work and do we have forgotten how to play. God was wasn’t working during Creation, he was making mud pies. He was Creating which isn’t work really. He still is. Labor came hit corruption entered the world and things got messed up. Jesus is always at a party or eating or cooking or making food out of thin air. He loves Martha’s cooking, but when caring for Jesus became work he told Martha of a better way. He didn’t want her to work, but to enjoy. “Sit down and let the rest go.”

If ministry is soul-killing, if it’s a heavy burden and labor, you’re doing it wrong. Ministry shouldn’t be [slow] suicide, says Len Sweet. “Worship is the playground of the Spirit.”

So, really the question remains: Will Protestantism stand the test of time? Signs point to “no”. But, critical to its survival and virility is the concept of creating a lasting and potent Identity that starts with a Story well-told.

# # #

Thanks for reading today. Did you enjoy it? If you did like this post or these series, be a friend and share. Okay?

The next post is a surprise. Come back soon (or sign up in the side for for the update).


I Want the High Ground, But I Can’t Find It (guest contributor, Ed Cyzewski)

The 2nd contributor in The Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers Series is author, blogger, and friend of rabbits, Ed Cyzewski.

I’ve enjoyed Ed’s blog and books for years. Simply put, Ed is consistently top notch, and I can’t say that of too many bloggers, even ones I enjoy. His current Women in Ministry Series is giving women who love the Lord a chance to tell their stories in an environment of love, encouragement, and support. Don’t miss it.

Today he shares, with personal candor and razor keenness, a theme that foils many Christian bloggers: polarizing narratives. 

If there was ever a cesspool of troubling ideas about Christianity, it had to be a series of radio shows on this Christian radio station in my home town. Not all of the shows were cesspools mind you—only certain shows.

The cesspools were the shows that revolved around creating an “us vs. them,” barbarians at the gate narrative for Christians and the surrounding culture. The enemies could be liberal politicians, liberal media, and even “liberal” Christians—all terms that were tossed about loosely for anyone who was “dangerous”—whatever that meant.

We live and breathe on narratives. The majority of our narratives revolve around some sort of conflict.

What I’ve found is that I haven’t necessarily abandoned the structure of that old conflict narrative I grew to reject. I still see myself in terms of how I oppose other perspectives when I blog. The difference now is that the barbarians at the gate are the ultra-conservative fundamentalists with oppressive practices and damaging theology.

I still think of myself as somehow preserving true Christianity or the truth—whatever that means. The trouble with this narrative is that once I set myself up as the defender of anything, I’m creating a disingenuous conversation—one that is especially toxic when I tap it out in a blog post.

I’ve run into this conflict dynamic in both directions when I debate people about women in ministry. For those who oppose women in ministry, they often frame the discussion where they’re preserving the truth of scripture. Therefore the entry point for the conversation is that I, as a supporter of women in ministry, am somehow attacking the Bible.

On the other hand, I believe that anyone who denies the full equality of women in the church is denying them their fundamental rights. I can quickly use this to frame my “opponents” as oppressors before the conversation even starts.

Either way, we can create an uneven playing field where neither side can see eye to eye because one side has set itself up on higher ground.

I don’t like confronting perspectives that oppose my own. Nothing has changed in that regard, even if I’ve swapped sides sometimes. Nevertheless, I still like to think of myself as the hero, the one who is standing up for truth.

The reality is that we’re all stumbling around, trying to sort out what we believe and what we should do each day. We’re all over the map, and perhaps some points on the map are closer to the ever elusive truth. However, the topography is quite level. We all go into this with the same limitations and bias.

The world continues to spin even though there are churches who won’t let women pray in the company of men and other churches led by strong, Spirit-filled female pastors. It’s hard to believe some days.

I can still have an equal marriage, even if there are some who believe women must take a subservient position with their husbands.

I can still learn from women, even if women are silenced in some churches.

I can even keep cute and cuddly house rabbits in my living room, even if some people raise them as livestock for dinner.

I wish I could take the high ground. I wish I could be 100% correct. I wish I could judge. I wish I could win. If only I could find that high ground, it would all be so easy. As I shift from one perspective to another, I’ve learned that no one really knows where that impregnable high ground is.

I’m trying to leave the conflict narrative behind. I don’t need more enemies. I need allies. That means I don’t try to convert those who disagree with me into allies. I just try to find allies.

If someone who disagrees with me wants to chat, then I’m all for it. However, I hope to leave behind the high ground days where I roved from one conversation to another as a warrior for truth who defended his supposed high ground no matter what the cost.

Thankfully, God has found the high ground, and he’s not letting me or you anywhere near it. We’re all just stuck on this unending plain together, and the sooner we leave each other be, without incessantly poking every person who disagrees with us, the better.


Ed Cyzewski is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and Divided We Unite: Practical Christian Unity. He blogs at www.inamirrordimly.com