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Just looking for some help with a definition of passionate spirituality. Some responses from friends and colleagues have been like, I can not define it, but i know when it is and when it isn't.

I am also trying to push the idea that passionate spirituality is not just about our own emotions. To me the spiritual quest is more than a feeling we get. While I believe that there is a emotional factor in passionate spirituality, I do not think that it starts or ends with emotion.

Anyone with any ideas? I would welcome them.
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The word enthusiasm means, etymologically, en (in) theos (God)--to be filled with divine energy. One of the ways I try to help people identify where God is calling them is to ask what they're excited about.

Although a significant emphasis in Christian spirituality in detachment and even "apatheia" (rightly understood), the purpose is to liberate one's true energy, or passion. This is not necessarily the same as emotionality, as you've noted, but is more deep and steady.

Good discussion starter. Welcome to the forum! Smiler
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I appreciate the thoughts, as it helps develop an idea. Why I think that emotions do play a part in passion, I think that the issue is who's feelings we are talking about. At one level we try to talk about passion as subjective, yet I think we miss who the subject is. WE try to place ourselves as subjects without realizing that all of creation is subject to our Creator. God is the source and subject of the world.

For passionate spirituality then, it might help to look at the idea that not only is passion our desire for God, but also the awareness of God's desire for us. This view of passion also helpd me understand passion for my spouse. Not only am I attracted to my wife, but I am also aware of her attraction for me. Our passion derives out of this mutual awareness.

Passionate spirituality then would be our desire for God's presence combined with our awareness of God's desire for us.

How does that sit with you?
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dear questor--

I sent you a private message about this, but I can put some of it out here for the rest to see.

I found several back issues of Mennonite Brethren Herald devoted to passionate spirituality. The issues are on line and are from the year 2000.

I believe the web site is www.mbherald.com

shanti
 
Posts: 144 | Location: USA | Registered: 01 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil wrote:

<<One of the ways I try to help people identify where God is calling them is to ask what they're excited about.>>

I like that idea Phil. I often wonder if God is still calling me to be a teacher. Granted, I need the income regardless, and a career change isn't really practical financially right now. But on the other hand, after 25 years, I still DO get excited about my work. I don't get excited about the Halloween party, or Parent Teacher Conferences, but I DO get excited about motivating the kids, their artwork, sharing books with them, teaching them songs, sharing that part of ME that cannot be duplicated. So I guess I AM still called to be do what I'm doing. Thanks for helping me clarify that.

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks Shanti for you message. I did look up the texts you recommended. Unfortunately, they were references from Christian Schwarz's "Paradigm Shift in the Church", the book that got me started thinking about passionate spirituality. Schwarz introduces us to the idea, but I want to push it farther than that.

I come from a tradition that is very skeptical of emotional worship, for fear that we sometimes try to manipulate people's emotions in worship. To a certain extent that is always true. Our concern is that people are making emotional decisions for Christ that fade with the emotion. We want to create life long disciples, and not temporary fanatics. i am looking for a way to develop passion past emotion, if that makes sense...
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dear questor--

Sorry to have been redundant Smiler

I also favor a more quiet approach....and I see a difference between "having" and "doing" when it comes to passion or emotion. We might have the feelings but it's how we handle them in our lives with others that makes a difference to me.

So it might be with a faith issue. One may have deep and passionate inner feelings about aspects of faith, but a steady role modeling of how those issues are to be "lived" will attract people. No need to jump and shout, just let the light shine forth from your behavior.

(I'm not necessarily against jumping and shouting, but from what you have posted, you are looking for another way. This is one that comes to mind.)

shanti
 
Posts: 144 | Location: USA | Registered: 01 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Questor,

I'm just wondering if you've ever read anything about contemplative or centering prayer and also if you've ever read anything by folks like Thomas Merton or A.W. Tozer.

For me, that passion you are speaking of is the ability to "connect" with the inner me who is in constant communion with God and separated from the world around me. Not that we ignore the world around us, but rather that we have a "place" inside that is operating on a different level. And in that "place" is where the joy unspeakable resides. Does that make sense? (if it doesn't you'll have to cut me a little slack here, I'm taking cold medicine and sometimes that hinders my concentration level..lol)

God bless,
Terri
 
Posts: 609 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi all,
I am new to discussion groups, so please bear with my uncertainty about protocol. I was pleased to see a thread addressing passionate spirituality. I liked the thought that passion is partly about our desire for God but also about our being desired by God. Having come out of a fundamentalist Protestant background I have had to work a lot on this issue. I wonder if our passion (the Christian spiritual tradition calls it desire) is, at the core, the expression of Trinitarian life in us. It is the passionate communion of love expressed in us as the longing for union (God is One) and uniqueness (each Person is God). We simultaneously long both to belong and also to be someone in our own right. It creates a complex storm of passionate longing that seems sometimes to be more than we can cope with. But if we follow both longings back to the core they are the expression of God's life in us and our desire to live that in our world.
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Calgary, AB, Canada | Registered: 07 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Questor et al,

In reviewing some of my notes, I came across the following entry: Richard Hardy, PhD in " Embodied Love in John of the Cross " states: "The question we must answer is whether John is espousing the goal of an ethereal, "purely spiritual" love, or rather an embodied love replete with sensuality and delight." Juan's emphasis on nature, the imagery of his poetry, his relational imagery reveal a man overflowing with sensuality and delight! He is selling us on nothing less than Divine Eros and as Hardy says: "in the light of this erotic love challenges today's Christian to embrace a lifestyle that risks all for the sake of all."

An edited version of this essay may be found here: EMBODIED LOVE IN JOHN OF THE CROSS

Hardy writes:
quote:
In the first part of this study, I wish to examine John's affirmation that in the union of love here in this life, human beings are so transformed that they become one with the will of God and actually love here and now with the love of God. In the second part, I wish to answer the question: "How does St. John of the Cross understand and present God's love for people, the world, indeed the whole of creation?" My thesis is that the fear many in the Christian churches have of body, passion and love has, in fact, led them to misinterpret St. John's view of love. They have made it something ethereal, "purely spiritual," and therefore disembodied or disincarnated. In fact, though, for St. John such a love is passionate, bodily and incarnated. I believe that seeing him in this way will enable us in the twentieth century to break through to a much more authentic Christian spirituality and indeed, a much more truthful presentation of St. John of the Cross's own teaching and hopes.
It is important to remember, I believe, that love is moreso a matter of the will than of the emotions. There are many good discussions of the roles of consolations, and also of aridity, that I have encountered over the years, most recently this one: Aridity, Consolations, and the Presence of Mary by Rev. William G. Most. Do any of you find points in his essay with which you agree or disagree?

What does St. Ignatius teach us about consolation? Or Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux or John of the Cross? What is first fervor ? Is it something to be recaptured? or transformed? Also, how does God respect different temperaments? Where and when are our journeys similar? different?

Finally, I believe this is very good: Passionate spirituality then would be our desire for God's presence combined with our awareness of God's desire for us. Maybe I'll say more on this later.

pax tibi,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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First of all, let me express my gratitude to everyone who has responded and shared some of their thoughts. This thread of conevrsation is proving to be helpful to me personally.

A couple of responses are in order to some rcent thoughts...

The emotional component to passion can lead people to jump and shout, speak in tongues, etc... Although that is not the tradition in which I was raised, I do appreciate the diversity in the work of the Spirit. It leads one person to one reaction and another to something completely different. To me, this is a testimony to the artistry of God. The Spirit has not led me personally to that kind of an emotional outburst (or maybe I have been led, but refused to follow...always a possibility), but I do not doubt the Spirit's presence in my life. This occurs when I am aware and when I am not aware of this fact.

I am a little concerned with the idea of an inner me that is separate from my own person. At one level, I do agree that there are masks that we all use in public and private that help us to color ourselves to others. We talk about "deepdown inside ourselves" how we really might feel on a topic of discussion. My concern is that we are treading on heretical ground. It sounds a little like gnosticism, the idea that the created physical world is bad, but the inner spiritual world is good. I do not think that anyone was supporting that idea in this thread, but the danger is ever-present.
I do not want to believe that there is an innre me more in touch with God's Spirit than the outer me that I show to others. I say this with the conviction that who I really am is both, the inner and the outer. In fact, I do not think that I would make a distinction. Both are who I am and make up the complex creature that God created in me. I guess this might be a major hang up for me, the desire that every aspect of me be in tune with God's Spirit. This would be a difficult task, since the disparity within my own personality is so great. I also think that there exists within my own person that part of me, maybe we can call it my sinful nature, that does not seek God's presence at all.

What saves me is God's activity in my life. God refuses to abandon me even when I make the attempt at abandonment. My tradition (as an American Baptist, FYI) shares the idea of a once saved-always saved theology. This idea states that in salvation, not only do we claim Christ, but Christ claims us. In my spiritual walk then, much of my walk is more dependent on God's walk with me than my walk with God. God is the only One who knows and can embrace my entire being. The distinctions that we draw as finite, limited human beings are not the same distinctions that God sees in us.

Part of the spiritual quest then, would be to view ourselves as individuals, in our total existence, with the vision that God possesses. Practices such as Lectio Divina might offer us at least a glimpse into God's world view...
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, there have been some good exchanges here.

Questor, I think you bring up a good topic about the outer and inner experiences. Ideally, they should be integrated, so that what we show the world is congruent with who we really are. Unfortunately, there is a split between the persona and the inner self in many--maybe most!--people. So long as one is looking for approval from others more than intending to say what one means and mean what one says, there will be this split. I consider it a consequence of our original wounding/sin.

A healthy self-acceptance which includes acceptance and integration of our emotional experience is a step unto healing. Without our emotions, we do lose a sense of energy and direction in our lives. The problem again, however, is not that emotions are bad, but that they have become aligned with the false self/persona, so that our emotional experiences are tracking on values and attitudes out-of-sync with Gospel/spiritual principles. This realignment is part of what happens on the spiritual journey, especially in the Night of the Senses. Thereafter, we find our emotional experiences quite different--maybe not as intense, but responding to different values and judgments.

Maybe that helps to nuance this topic somewhat.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi questor.

In reading the previous posts again, I don't think anyone was refering to inner life-outer life as having a mask or as being false.

I don't want to put words in any other posters mouth, but what I think I saw emerging on this thread was the idea that one can be passionate inwardly in a way the informs one's outer behavior but is still maintains the integrity of the whole spiritual package.

One's inner life works differently that one's outer life. That's not to say one is better than the other (in my own humble opinion) but in the best of situations they work together to further good in ourselves and in dealing with others.

Thus, one can be passionate in the love of God and express that love directly or refrain from direct expression and try to live according to that love. And conversely, one can also be passionate in anger for someone else but have a moral code which prevents slapping the other person but promotes having a discussion to address the issue.

On this discussion board I have notice how many people who are "fed" by their inner passion for God and yet are able to do things like moderate discussion boards, teach school, take care of the mundane needs of family life or the special needs of debilitated family members. Inner and outer working together.

Another aspect of this thread would be how all this fits within a faith community. I don't know if you want this thread to go there now, but you seemed to be opening the door just a wee bit in your first two posts.

Enjoyable thread with many good postings. Thanks for getting us started--and keeping us going.

shanti
 
Posts: 144 | Location: USA | Registered: 01 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe I should lay a few cards down on the table. I am a professional minister, serving as an associate pastor. I love my calling and enojy being able to make a living while sirectly serving God. Part of my passion invovles my daily work life, where I get to come to my office in church, meet with people, and help lead worship in formal and informal settings. Part of me always thinks I should be paying my church, instead of them paying me...

I started writing to respond to the false masks that we sometimes use, then realized I was moving way off this topic. Maybe a new thread should be started to review this aspect.

Passionate spirituality in the faith community is exactly where I feel this is called to move next. My own local church setting is one where this is a low component in our aspect of worship. How then can we foster, develop, encourage, or even educate our local faith community? Part of it has to be modeled, I understand this, and part of this can happen through the message.

I plan to speak this Sunday on Jonah, and explore how God seeks out Jonah for his calling to Ninevah. I think there is a message here that maybe corporate worship is not so much a place for us to find God as it is a place to be found by God. It transforms worship for believers from a consumer based worship style (i.e. What's in this service for me?) into a God subjective worship (at least I hope it does) leaving us with the question, What will God do in today's service? How will that Presence manifest itself?
Does this mean then, that passionate spirituality starts with intent? Does it start as we change our intent, from one of serving our selfish interests to serving God's?
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Does this mean then, that passionate spirituality starts with intent? Does it start as we change our intent, from one of serving our selfish interests to serving God's?

I think probably these questions hold the answer. It was either on another site I read or an article I read today (I can't remember which at the moment) that there was mentioned how worship services had moved from the original intent of honoring God, adoring Him, expressing our love for Him,... to waiting on Him to show us more of His love, more of what He could do for our lives, and to issue more of His blessings. Not that those things are necessarily bad, but rather that they are "me" centered. That seems to be similar to what you've expressed in your post.
We've become a selfish society, at least in my observations, of seeking to gain more from God rather than seeking to thank Him for who He is and what He's already done.
I'm wondering if passionate spirituality has to do with retaining that reverence and awe of Him. That's a big part of my personal passion, but I'm sure each person has their own avenue of passion.
I hope you let us know how the message goes and any feedback you might get about it Smiler .

God bless,
Terri
 
Posts: 609 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think desire and intentionality are important aspects of prayer and spiritual exercises. Whether we climb the ladder of prayer vis a vis lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio or move thru Teresa's "Interior Mansions" or CS Lewis "Four Loves" (storge, philia, agape, eros) or Merton's descriptions of "Bernardian Love" (love of self for sake of self, love of God for sake of self, love of God for sake of God, love of self for sake of God) or whether we use any other metaphor or paradigm, we don't view these different "loves" as separate and discrete entities or as skins which we shed as we progress toward newness or as rungs on a ladder or steps on a stairway to be done away with after we've climbed. In other words, as we move into the "what's in it for God" mode we don't then negate the "what's in it for me" mode; they complement and perfect one another, notwithstanding that the more "selfish" mode may inordinately predominate early on our journeys.

I do notice a pattern in worship services of almost all traditions whereby the entire spiritual journey of an individual soul gets recapitulated in the community's worship: 1) we receive the Word 2) listen to the Word 3) meditate on the Word 4) make the Word our own 5) act on the Word 6) expect the Word to happen. Often, before the sharing of the word, congregations have a purgative moment, a reflection on and repentance of sinfulness. The Word sharing is illuminative. The final movement is unitive, a communion of souls. Praise, petition, thanksgiving, adoration, forgiveness etc and all other manner of what's in it for me, for others, for God, for us all find their places, too.

I think Questor is precisely right in sensing that there should be a movement or a "transformation in worship" and it involves both style and substance. The faithful gather and, though their communal worship, at first, will only be as "good" as their collective individual prayer lives during the week, we recall that we have only "invoked" because we have been "convoked"; that is, we are called as a people even as we respond as individuals.

My main thesis is that each communal worship service can be a recapitulation of the individual soul's transformative journey. My secondary point is that although we have different capacities for love and different approaches in prayer for different stages of our transformative journeys, we don't discard these capacities as if we were jettisoning successive rocket boosters but rather integrate and perfect them transformatively, keeping them throughout our journeys.

As to how the Presence will manifest, there is often a communal sensing of a specific Word gift but there will always be individual receptions of distinctly different gifts according to the modes and needs of the receivers, God speaking a different Word to each soul. One thing is for sure, each worshipper should leave knowing that each in her own way has been sent to serve again.

This is my take on how intent is transformed during worship. I hope it helps.

pax tibi,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi everyone....

This is a great topic.... and I thought I would add just a couple of random thoughts that popped up as I read your posts.

First... to be passionate about something to me entails a commitment. If I am passionate about my work, I commit myself to it. If I am passionate about my wife and family, I commit myself to them. So a passionate spirituality to my mind gives rise to an element of commitment... and this takes intentionality.
Now, the way we live out these passions I would think would vary according to our personality types.... the contemplative introverts would do so quietly and at least to some extent internally... while the evangelical extrovert might be found preaching on the street corners. Both to my mind are valid expressions of passionate spirituality.
Questor... a discussion of the false masks we wear would be very interesting sometime, but to your question of how to take a community from being me centered to God centered.....
First not an easy task... our society, culture, education all encourages a me centered focus... what's in it for me... take care of number 1... self-sufficiency and all of that.
I think johnboy made a good point when he differentiated between the individual and communal aspect of worship. Too often perhaps the focus is on the communal and the individual... the I am here to worship - I am here to meet.. is lost. In embracing the we maybe the personal element is lost - the personal commitment is forgotten.
I'm Episcopalian and each Sunday after Communion we offer a prayer which ends... "send us now out into the world in peace and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart."
It may sound silly but it is one of the reasons I love the Episcopal church.... the service doesn't end but is continued throughout the week in these words.... it is a commitment.... not a corporate commitment but an individual commitment. While we often forget these words passing throught the doors, I really do think that in their weekly repetition they engender a change in the way we see ourselves.
BTW... this isn't a plug for the Episcopal church. It is a plug for the value of good a liturgy.... of hearing/speaking the words repeated week after week... If I were looking to deepen the faith of a community, that's where I would start.
Peace,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, Wanda. I accept that you were not "plugging" the Episcopal Church even as you are a great witness in your sharing Smiler Similarly, it is not my intent to proselytize (in this present consideration, at least) Wink

Questor, your sharing and the depthful responses play on so many of my heart and soul strings that I find it difficult to find just the right harmonic for helping you sing your song. I'll throw out a few more ideas and maybe a couple will resonate.

I have a deep appreciation for the Baptist tradition, especially the Southern Convention which I was exposed to while "growing up Catholic" (sometimes I wonder if that phrase is considered, by some but not me, a politically correct way of acknowledging some sort of disability --- that's another thread). My paternal grandparents were devout Baptists who raised 10 of 13 children to adulthood and 3 of the 5 adult boys were ministers (2 Baptist and 1 nondenominational). I had an ecumenical outlook before it was even "cool" (or some would say, erroneously, allowed ). Enough background.

I just dug through some old notes, which came to mind in light of this discussion (which has been lightsome). In the late 80's, I was driving around at lunchtime listening to radio preachers, as I often did, not really ever concerned whether it was good preaching or poor preaching (figuring I could even learn from good examples of bad examples), Protestant or Catholic (Roman or Anglican Wink ). Something the preacher said about "movements in prayer" immediately crystallized for me and I syntopically saw his paradigm working everywhere. When I got home, I wrote down thoughts and ideas for a period of days, fleshing out the intuitions this preacher had gifted me with.

I just cut and pasted them without formatting into a webpage that can be viewed here:
Transformative Progressions

Near the end of my thoughts I wrote: And we, made in God's image and likeness recognize these faculties in ourselves ! And what do we find in ourselves but DESIRE, longing, yearning, the indwelling Holy Spirit, grace !

and I closed with my favorite Gerald May quotes:

quote:

We are conscious not just because our hearts are beating but because they are yearning (1).


The only way to own and claim love as our identity is:

to fall in love with love itself,

to feel affection for our longing,

to value our yearning,

treasure our wanting,

embrace our incompleteness,

be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need (2).

Love is present in any desire ... in all feelings of attraction, in all caring and connectedness. It embraces us in precious moments of immediate presence. It is also present when we experience loneliness, loss, grief and rejection. We may say such feelings come from the absence of love, but in fact they are signs of our loving; they express how much we care. We grieve according to how much of ourselves we have already given; we yearn according to how much we would give, if only we could (3).
And this is why I affirmed your idea: Passionate spirituality then would be our desire for God's presence combined with our awareness of God's desire for us. and wrote that I may share more later.

I truly believe that one sure route to our intimate knowledge of God's desire for us is to be in touch with our own longings, desires, neediness and incompleteness. On one level, they are beautiful insofar as they give us clues as to Who God is for us (as theologian Karl Rahner said - the unsolved remainder) . On another level they give us clues insofar as they also reveal, in some measure, how God feels toward us. There, intertwined, are fourfold agape and eros: God's love of and need for us, our love of and need for God .

May my loving uncles smile down on us today, in Jesus,
jb
 
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JB,
As usual you have brought a depth and understanding to the topic at hand. I truly thank you for sharing your notes. In reading them, I was surprised to see some of my own thoughts and realizations written down by your hand Smiler . I particularly am drawn, these days, to beseeching God to draw me ever closer to Him. I think a lot of us (maybe quite a lot) sometimes are a bit stuck in a place where God is "out there in the heavens". There is such a change of inner life and outer life when we begin to experience Him as "here within me and around me".

Thank you again for sharing, that was wonderful.

God bless,
Terri
 
Posts: 609 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow! At one level this is pretty overwhelming. The depth of the responses and the careful thought into comments truly nurture my soul...

Wanda, I think you are right about being committed being involved in passion. In fact, I think that to be passionate without commitment is to not be passionate.

Ever see the Crocodile Hunter on television? For good or bad, I have no doubt about this man's passion for animals. I think that is what has made him the relative success that he is, he is able to accurately broadcast and share his passion for animals that plucks at our own heart strings. If only members of the Christian Church (I mean all Christians) could share that same passion for God.

I agree with the differentiation between the individual and corporal worship. My concern is that sometimes individual worship takes precedence over communal worship. In a consumer based society, the question we most have to answer to our church congregation is: I did not like this, or what happened to that? My concern I think is the opposite, we have so individualized worship that sometimes we fail to see the communal value in corporal worship. We believe that we, as a church, are the body of Christ. This is not just an eschatological reality, it is also a present one. Therefore, we must always consider the corporate value of individual actions. I love the litany you mentioned, and coming from a American Baptist (which actually, is quite different from Southern Baptists, though before the Civile War the two were the same) we make little use of litany, or even repetition. We also use the blessing at the end of our service to encourage our congregation to "go and act out the change they wish to see in the world" but use different words each week. Baptists are sometimes too afraid of tradition... I remember sharing communion by intinction once and having several members complain that it was too Catholic (my apologies to the Roman Catholic church, some of our people just do not understand).

John Boy, your words were inspiring and I would [I][/I] echo some of your early comments. This conversation charges my batteries and nurtures my soul with evident grace, and thank you for being another of those agents...

The statement:

The only way to own and claim love as our identity is:

to fall in love with love itself,

to feel affection for our longing,

to value our yearning,

treasure our wanting,

embrace our incompleteness,

be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need (2).

Is in itself beauty. To be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need. To value our yearning....it reminds me that the process is also valuable, and not just the end result. Thank you for sharing your insights.

Also this statement:

And we, made in God's image and likeness recognize these faculties in ourselves ! And what do we find in ourselves but DESIRE, longing, yearning, the indwelling Holy Spirit, grace !

Once again, it reminds us that God is the subject and object of our passion. This is true because our passion is an image of God's passion. Too often we fall into the trap of thinking that being created in God's image is one-dimensional, whereas I think your last statement reminds us that we are created in the image of God in EVERY aspect of our being (except maybe sin, which might be the occasion where we deny God's image).
What a powerful statement to realize that the desire we direct for God's presence (moving back to our original topic) in our lives is actually an echo of God's desire for us. When I think about how much this desire consumes me, I wonder how God can have time to do anything else! And then to realize that God's desire for me is not just limited to me but to all of creation....Whew. I am once again glad that he is God and I man not. Too tiring of a job for me. (Forgive the blasphemy there, it is overwhelming to think that God's desire for us is much greater than our own desire for God and that God desires others with the same intensity)

It also enhances the Jonah story for us. Look what ends God took to reach Jonah when he did not want to be found. God manipulated creation- the storm, the fish, Jonah in the fish, just so that Jonah would see the extent of God's desire for him.

One note of business, my intent at this point is to print out this conversation in its entirety and attach it to the bibliography for my paper. Might I have your permission to print out this thread to use in this paper? I would appreciate it and would be sure to cite references made from this conversation. I am grateful to have found this mode of expression and to have discovered the wisdom of so many different people.

Tom Bartley
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dear Questor Tom, you are welcome to use anything I have posted, including my old notes. I cyberscribbled those old Gerald May quotes long ago (the three at the end re: desire) long ago without any attribution/citation but after some digging believe they came from his book Will and Spirit. Others will have to indicate their willingness to share their contributions to you directly. If you'd like to prompt anyone further, in this regard, you can use the private messaging facility, too.

I'd be very pleased to have you share the fruits of your completed Jonah reflections, too.

Be well and may your listeners be blessed by the Word you share.

pax tibi,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the continued food for thought and for the quotes from Gerald May. In his book Addiction and Grace he begins with the thought that longing is our greatest gift, our most treasured possession. Even though it is the very thing that gets us addicted!

I would like to pose a question. Why is it that most of our talk about passionate spirituality references back to how we express our religious devotion? Whether we jump up and down or are more quiet, how we worship in church, how we live our spiritual disciplines, etc? Is not passion, the very core of our life? And as God's life, is it not expressed as much in our playing tennis and doing art and completing a sale and drinking port at home by the fire as it is in our Bible reading and our coporate worship? Passion surely is the full expression of life, not just our religious experience. And passionate spirituality is about learning to live fully and live healthily with our desire in all those areas. Too much of religion has relegated passion to religious expression--how emotionally we express our devotion or how faithfully we do Bible study or how long we pray and has been suspicious of passion in any other form of expression. As the movie "A River Runs Through it" begins, "In our family there was no clear line between religion and flyfishing" (or something close to that!)

Jeff
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Calgary, AB, Canada | Registered: 07 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Indeed, Jeff, there needn't be (should not be) compartmentalization in the manner you described. Also, when we draw distinctions we don't necessarily imply separation but do so with unitive goals always in mind.

Merci,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jeff, you posted an interesting thought. Interesting, because I am convinced that we falsely interpret the church as central to spiritual development, when I am of the opinion that the family is a greater factor in spirituality. Think about it, how much time does the average church attender spend at church and how much time to do they spend together with family in the average week?

To me, we are not talking about how our passionate spirituality is demonstrated or even measured. There is a wide variety in how the Spirit affects us, and to me at least, the form of the affect is not as important as the motivation of the Spirit. I appreciate your comment that often we miss out on the Spirit's presence by simply ignoring it. Part of my desire in passionate spirituality is that not only does it transform our worship, but every aspect of our lives.
However, at the same time, I recognize that corporal worship is an important element to our individual spiritual growth. I am looking for a way for the church to support, emphasize, encourage the development of passionate spirituality within the individual families in our church. It is a part of our call from Christ. I would agree that there are only limits that worship and education can reach, but I think that it needs to begin with defining and encouraging intent. I do not want our church to be a place that exists for the sake of existing. If we lose our vision for the church, we lose our vision for the family as well.

But your point is dramatic. It is also part of my frustration. Sometimes as a worship leader, I get so caught up in the details of worship and in bringing my best before God, that I fail to take the time to worship myself. At least, that is the way it feels for me. Worship is not the only place to foster passionate spirituality, but it should be a place where it can be celebrated... a task that I desire.
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Evansville, IN  | Registered: 30 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks JB for your gentle reply. And thanks, Questor, for your reply which I found when I went to post this! I do not want to take the thread in directions that are not appropriate; however, I am trying to respond to the initial posting by Questor who asked for help with a definition of passionate spirituality.

If we are seeking a definition of passionate spirituality then it seems to me important to locate both the source and the extent of passion. If the source of passion is the life of God within us and if the extent of passion includes all our longings then we can begin to talk about what living a passionate spirituality is like. Maybe it sounds circular, but we become passionate about our spirituality when we attend to and live with our passion in a spiritual way. Many people are no longer passionate about their religious fervour because they have lost touch with the connection between their passion generally and their spirituality and are left only with duty or guilt in their spiritual life. And as we all know those wear off after awhile!

It is my observation that sometimes (not always) people get into more emotionally expressive worship traditions partly because they have no other acceptable release for their passion. And sometimes people gravitate toward a more cognitive worship because they are disconnected from their life of passion generally. In either case it may have more to do with how we cope with passion than what kind of worship expression is more passionate.

The point was well made that it is not only about our desire for God, but about God�s desire for us. How do we experience God�s desire for us? Is it not in the very tugs of passion that we feel? They are like the cords of love that draw us back into God, and we experience God�s presence in the longing itself (the invitation of God�s love to us that makes us want God). We also experience God�s presence in the fulfillment of those desires (seeing the fulfillment as a gift of God�s grace not our achievement). And we experience God�s presence in our unfulfilled longings (they take us beyond ourselves and beyond the possibility of any earthly fulfillment and back into transcendence).

Passionate spirituality is about wholeheartedly owning those passionate longings and experiencing the intimacy of God�s loving Presence companioning us through the transformation process of learning to live well with them. Our response of wholeheartedly owning our passion, seeing in it the Divine Presence, and learning to �go with the flow� of God�s Presence in how those passionate longings are to be expressed is at the heart of our spiritual transformation and is a profound experience of intimacy in the everyday details of our lives.

Now, as Questor mentions, we can learn to channel that passion for life in and through our corporate worship, and corporate worship can be a community expression that fosters and gives shape to our personal joy in experiencing God�s presence through all the passion of life (i.e. like the Psalms!).

I hope that makes some sense. If not, I am O.K to go on with the thread without having to pursue this part of it.

Thanks for the chance to express myself.

Jeff
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Calgary, AB, Canada | Registered: 07 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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