You are the Dance

Some days, I want to be a poet or songwriter, or at least good storyteller – because I know that if I’m going to influence our culture’s core sense of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going, then nonfiction, essay-style is about the worst way to seep deeply into the bones of people! But mostly, I want to be able to give voice to the stirrings in my own heart.

Sometimes, I take some faltering steps in a verse-writing direction. This is one of those times. I imagine the song below sounding something like Kevin Prosch‘s song ‘The Wheel of God‘ (sorry, I couldn’t find any audio online). The lyrics are inspired by some delving I’ve been doing into what Phyllis Ticklecalls one of the deepest mysteries the Christian faith has been called to steward – the revelation of God-as-community, the perfect Relationship: the Trinity. My own sense of the fellowship of Godhead was nurtured in my ‘church life‘ (aka house/organic/simple church) days by voices like Frank Viola in From Eternity to Here or Milt Rodriguez in The Community Life of God. This haunting sense of the significance of Trinity as the prime metaphor for God was deepened in my emerging church engagement via Ian Mobsby‘s TheBecoming of G-D, among other sources. And of course, there’s that little book that Iendorsed, Paul Young’s The Shack, with its marvelous and subversive portrait of a God who defers in love to each portion of Godself, and wishes to make their “especially fond” fellowship planetary in scope.

Most recently, I’ve been experiencing a veritable Trinitarian renaissance while doing the dishes, which is happening a bit morefrequently these days as my wife recovers from some minor surgery. This is thanks to both Baxter Kruger‘s amazing teaching – in book form in The Great Dance, & in MP3 form via Grace Communion International‘s free seriesDancing with the Trinity – and two awesome teaching series from Richard Rohr (on the latter joined by Cynthia Bourgeault): The Divine Dance and The Shape of God. I’ve begun to see both Trinity-as-Relationship and Trinity-as-Process as holding both the promise and the delivery of transformative change of most significant spiritual, political, and ecological crises of our time. We get to enter into the shared life of God and creation, and from this three-fold perspective break out of our dead-end, binary thinking into true metanoia, a renewed frame of mind and living.

Enough prose already! Let’s get into the poetry.

Yours is the flow

That created kindness

You are the Dance

That ignites all Light

You are the Three

Who contain all Oneness

In You we gaze

With Single sight

Abba

You ground all things eternal

And kiss the earth with glad embrace

Christ the Son

In a world of sorrows

Transfigures pain with healing grace

Spirit of Love

Sows new creation

In every soil weak or strong

Your beloved

Mirrors every gesture

In this our wild,

Reconciling song!

God alone

There is no other

Apart from You what can take form?

You are the play in every atom

Trinity

In You we’re born

This hour brings sorrow and challenge

Never before have we faced so much;

Upon Your goodness we’ll incarnate

Release our hands for Your healing touch

Bound to You

We’re Your wounded healers

Binding earth

With heaven’s balm

Boundless here in realms unscripted

Tree of Life

Is your free-verse psalm

And so today we dance Your circle

Rhythm of life Your cadence grows;

Let the circle be unbroken

Drawing all in

To Your radiant flow.

It’s a work in progress. It reminds me of Jesus & Paul’s own probable spiritual practice of meditation on Ezekiel’s Chariot…eh?

Feel free recommend revisions and additional stanzas (not to mention maybe a chorus) in the comments below. If it gets polished, I’d like to introduce it to my home church – (appropriately enough)Trinity’s Place.

Further recommended reading:

This Blog Has Moved!

Hi all – after several years on ye olde free wordpress site, I’ve upgraded to blogging at MikeMorrell.org! Please update your RSS feeds & bookmarks – subscribe now here.

I’m still on the ‘pre-release’ of MikeMorrell.org; better design and much more consistent posting are both in the near future. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you there! Thank you!

Send in the Clowns!

The Kingdom of God is a party!” So says Tony Campolo (and Robert Farrar Capon, and John Crowder, and Ben Dunn, and Sara Miles, and Bruce Chilton, and Hafiz…need I go on?), but so few people believe this.

I’ve mentioned previously my admiration for what Bruce Sanguin is attempting with a genuinely tradition-honoring yet scientifically-sensitive approach to Christian spirituality. So imagine my delight in a recent reading of If Darwin Prayed when I discover this poem – a feast for those who hunger after Jesus in all his subversive fullness. Enjoy!

Send in the Clowns

john 2:1–11

O Holy One,

what good news it is

that when the wine of abundant life gives out,

you find a way to keep the celebration going.

Just when we are convinced that the worst thing

that can happen is what always happens,

you send bright signs

that the party has just begun.

Just when we are happy to descend into despair,

you send in the clowns

and place party hats atop our frowning faces,

daring us just to try to not smile.

Into this world of wonder,

your beloved Cosmic Celebrant came,

with the last word on the subject—

silencing the political party poopers

and the religious prudes—

pronouncing blessing without end

and no good reason to stop the music.

Hallelujah! Blessed is your name.

Amen.

Mike Morrell/Derek Webb Interview for Wild Goose Festival!

I’ve enjoyed Derek Webb‘s music for years. It’s weird. While I’d never consider myself a die-hard fan, I tallied it up the other day and I’ve been to more Derek Webb concerts – by a large margin – than any other musician. When it comes to the repeats, I tally at Anathallo – 2 shows. Sigur Ros – 2 shows. Waterdeep – 2 shows. Better Than Ezra (yep) – 2 shows. Derek Webb – 20+.  How did this even happen? Well, the man makes consistently good music. And while I enjoy concerts, I mostly go to ’em when others ask me to come along. I have lots of friends who ask me to come along with them to Derek’s shows. I always say yes.

(Ah, the memories: A Caedmon’s show in the late ’90s and a DW solo show in the early 2000s, both at my alma mater Berry. The road trip with my buddy Johnny to Jacksonville. A gazillion shows at Eddie’s Attic. One in Stone Mountain. One at the Lincoln Theater here in Raleigh, when DW & I were both new daddies, in June 2007…)

So it was fun, a few weeks ago, when I got to make the trek to Haw River, North Carolina, and sit down with Derek while he was on tour with Jars of Clay. Derek is a huge supporter of this little (!) gig I’m working called the Wild Goose Festival, and (as usual – lol) he had plenty to say. The result is this video, below, where he shares his passion for all things Goose. Please watch it and pass it along to your music-loving friends!

Join Derek at the Goose where he’ll sing and play and initiate some blessedly uncomfortable conversations. Oh – and this is the final week when Advance Tickets to the Goose can be had – go ahead and order them here if you haven’t already. See a more ‘official’ bio of Derek over at the Wild Goose Festival blog today.

Finally, I leave you with some Feedback, which we played during communion at Trinity’s Place yesterday.

Hurts So Good

So it had been awhile since I’d been in for my last Rolfing session. This didn’t necessarily surprise my Rolfer, Jason Sager, who might’ve wondered if I was coming back at all. It turns out that people dropping out of a Ten Series after session three is not-too-uncommon; even if people get alot out of the initial three, it’s session four where the real deep tissue magic begins. The chasm between sessions three and four are what often separate the men from the boys. (Er…pick your gender-inclusive metaphor here.)

Still, I began to see how I was walking better, and had a more stable gravitational ‘center’ – I was hooked. Even though I’m a pretty busy guy, I wanted to go back. So I did. I was not disappointed.

Here’s Jason’s description of what happens in session four:

Session 4 goes back to the legs for a deeper run and focus on lengthening the inner line of the legs from ankle to pelvic floor. This session is often helpful for clients with knee issues and creates stability through the inner line of the legs, allowing clients to stand and walk with less effort. This establishes a line of weight transmission in the lower body that will be continued in the work of Session 5.

That’s what happened; all I know is that it hurt! I can’t stress enough the difference between Rolfing and traditional massage, which I also enjoy. Traditional massage carries its own set of benefits; Rolfing aims for bodily structural change, reinforced by movement and posture changes during and after treatment. I felt like some deep tensions were being released during the pelvic floor work in particular; waves of anxiety came, and went, like waves crashing up on a shore.

My understanding is that these kinds of releases will be more common in the final six sessions of the Ten Series. If that’s the case, I’m looking forward to the final seven.

And what next? Well, I hear that Jason is offering some dance classes…I dunno if I’m ready for that yet!

Rob Bell & Mike Morrell Interviewed on Day1!

…but not on the same episode, alas.

A few weeks ago, Rob was in Atlanta as part of a short tour for his uber-controversial book Love Wins. He stopped by the nationally-syndicated Day1 studio to do this in-depth interview with show host Peter Wallace:

(Note: This interview is WAY better than Martin Bashir’s!)

Then last week, I was in Atlanta:  Seeing family and friends for Easter, and sharing about the Wild Goose Festival with a wide variety of people in the area – Punk TorahMetro Atlanta Emergence (with whom I had entirely too much fun at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium and La Fonda), and KSU professor Derek Spalla.

While in the ATL, it worked out for me to sit in the studio with the good Mr. Wallace and share why the Goose is so important to me, and why it just might be important to – dahn dahn dahn! – the future shape of North American spirituality. No really. Why? You’ll just have to watch & see! But seriously – I’d love your feedback on what we’re discussing here.

Finally, you see that t-shirt I’m wearing? It’s from the local Raleigh-based Guru Guitar, a kickin’ guitar shop that serves the Triangle area and beyond. I do mean ‘beyond.’ My buddy, Guru co-owner Eugene Reinert, crafts his custom-made Rhino Guitars for musicians the world over. So if you’re in the market for peerless sound, come on by. Then you & I could have coffee next-door at Cup-A-Joe afterward.

NT Wright – This Saturday in Greenwich CT – Be There!

N.T. Wright

 Click Here to see N.T. Wright on 

The Colbert Report

N.T. “Tom” Wright is the former Bishop of Durham with the Church of England and current Professor of the New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He also taught New Testament studies for 20 years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities.

Featured on ABC News, Dateline NBC, NPR’s Fresh Air, Time Magazine, and on The Colbert Report, N.T. Wright’s influence has reached far and wide. He is described as one of the top five theologians in the world today.

Meet Tom Wright and enjoy a day full of interactive lecture & conversation.

This is a not-to-be

missed event!

N.T. WRIGHT
World Renowned Theologian, New Testament Scholar, and Writer

Sat, May 14, 2011

10am – 4:30pm

A DAY OF DYNAMIC TEACHING & DISCUSSION

Reading the Gospels for All They’re Worth  

Session I: The Gospels: Have We Got It Wrong?
Session II: The Gospels in Four Dimensions
Session III: The Kingdom & the Cross
Session IV: Praying, Preaching & Living the Gospels

 

Tickets: $65 (includes lunch)

www.courageandfaith.org or

Christ Church Greenwich bookstore

“Tom Wright ranks among the 

most distinguished New Testament

scholars in the world”

– Professor Ivor Davidson, St. Andrews University

“Bishop Tom has given generously of his

extraordinary gifts in the life of his diocese

and the Church of England at large”

– Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams

Sun, May 15, 2011

9:30am, Guest Preacher at

Christ Church Greenwich Worship Service

The Shepherd and the Thief

10:30am, Talk, Book Signing

& Piano Performance

Virtue: The Radical Alternative

Christ Church Greenwich Parish Hall

Christ Church Greenwich

254 E. Putnam Avenue

Greenwich, CT

203-869-6600

CCF NTW

The Truth About Friendships and The Wisdom of Jesus & Songs

You have eyes like mine…
Are we strangers or am I you are I..?
Cloud Cult, Chain Reaction

Hopped a grainer out of Pig’s Eye toward Milwaukee
The Deer between the tower and the tracks saw right through us, said:

You don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you’re going.
You think you’re you, but you don’t know who you are, you’re not you…
You’re Everyone Else.
You’re Everyone Else!
mewithoutYou, Cattail Down

Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you…All I have is yours, and all you have is mine…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
– Jesus, John 17

Love your neighbor as yourself.
– Jesus, Mark 12

Therefore,

The kindest thing you can do for those you love – and for those you hate – is to release them from your thoughts of them, anything they’ve ever meant to you, good or bad. This way, you and they are free to approach one another in the precious, unfolding present.

And –

If you find yourself overly clingy, overly attached, overly idolatrous toward a loved one or friend, get this: What you long for in this ‘other’ person is what you want to be in yourself – and you already have it within yourself, just waiting to be discovered! You’re already them – you’re already that!

For more on friendship, see Dan Brennan‘s excellent Sacred Friendships Project – it’s like the PostSecret of friendship.

The Landfall Crowns the Voyage: CS Lewis in Carl McColman’s ‘The Lion, the Mouse & the Dawn Treader’

I first got to know Carl McColman mere months (possibly even weeks) after getting married. In early 2006, both he & I were linked to a mutual Christian mystic’s blog whose name escapes me now. Carl’s Website of Unknowing was instantly familiar to me as a site that had both intrigued and scared me a bit in college, years before. It was then – in the late 1990s or early 2000s – that Carl had laid out his then-path of being a “Christian-friendly Pagan’ who was wholly conversant with my tradition. It scared me because of his easy fluidity between these two worlds, where I saw only hard walls.

Flashing forward to my re-discovery of Carl’s site five years or so later. I was intrigued by his autobiographical Beliefnet piece After the Magic, describing his exit from his neo-Pagan milieu into Roman Catholicism of all things!  Once again rendered palatable to this newly-married, newly-minted (cautiously) post-evangelical, a website became a person: I got to know Carl in realtime as my wife and I started hanging out with him and others at the Atlanta Christian Mystics Meetup during our final months before the Raleigh move. I learned a thing or three about how to hold one’s tradition as truth with integrity while not running roughshod over others, upon witnessing Carl’s lived experience of now being a “Pagan-friendly Christian.”

Last year he released the acclaimed Big Book of Christian Mysticism, which certainly lived up to its name. And while his next offering is not the autobiographical work I’m still hoping for (the Beliefnet piece was such a tease), The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader  is a step in that direction. It takes a serious, sustained look at C.S. Lewis’s life and spirituality vis-a-vis the most allegorical of his Narnia novels.

Lewis, Carl contends, penned his children’s novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader around the classic Christian mystical stages of purgation, illumination, and union.

This voyage, the book’s official description reads, is “for Christians of all ages, is full of adventures, temptation, discomforting silence, dealing with “Dufflepuds” (distractions), and a final terrifying journey to the “Island of Darkness” (the dark night of the soul). As the Dawn Treader sails beyond where the stars sing, you will discover a world of wonders characterized by light and clarity, and encounter Alsan – Christ – himself.”

Lewis’s interpreter, McColman, is an enigma himself. As I’ve gotten to know him over the years, I’ve met a gentle soul with a wicked wit. Raised a staunch Lutheran, forged in the fires of both the Jesus Movement and charismatic renewal, McColman became by turns Episcopalian, agnostic, and neo-pagan. In the latter mode he became a trusted spiritual guide and best-selling author, counting books such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Paganism and Embracing Jesus and the Goddess to his credit. Then, after his visionary encounter with Christ led him to a transfigured Christian faith, Carl began retail work with the monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, where he remains today. 

So what does he do with Lewis? Here’s an example:

In Letters to Malcolm, Lewis refutes the idea that mystical experiences are an end in themselves. As he saw it, mysticism, by itself, is neither good nor evil; it is the content or the object of mystical experience that determines its ultimate value. “Departures are all alike; it is the landfall that crowns the voyage.” In other words, any kind of mystical experience is simply a “departure” from normal awareness and ordinary reality. It’s like seeing a glorious site in nature—the Grand Canyon, for example—for the first time. The beauty, the vastness, the austerity—these all combine to create an experience of wonder, or of humility, or even of ecstasy. Or, think of how some people’s lives are changed when they encounter suffering, or poverty, or other forms of human need. The experience of compassion and sadness in the face of human misery can change a person’s life forever…But an experience, in itself, does not make someone a mystic.

Whether an experience is one of great joy, or love, or sorrow, or suffering, or even a more “classic” mystical experience of feeling God’s presence in our hearts, we need to ask: where does this experience take us? Lewis goes on to say, “The saint, by being a saint, proves that his mysticism (if he was a mystic; not all saints are) led him aright; the fact that he has practiced mysticism could never prove his sanctity.” In other words, mysticism does not necessarily make a person a saint, nor does sanctity necessarily make one a mystic. For Lewis, there’s no contest: if we have to choose between being a spiritual master and a holy person, seek holiness. Better to be humble and holy than to be mystical and lost in the illusions of our own egos.

It’s this kind of counter-intuitive wisdom that avoids clichés and presents fresh considerations. I’ve gotten a lot out of this slender volume. Carl’s background makes him uniquely qualified to mine the depths of Narnia, as he is by turns literary, Christian (in the same Anglo-Catholic sense that Lewis was), and knowledgeable of the great reservoir of global pagan mythology that Lewis himself loved and employed. All of this makes reading The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader a contemplative experience in and of itself.

Watch a trailer for the book here:


It’s Time to Break Up Monsanto

From Food Democracy Now…

Last year the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture held a series of 5 hearings investigating anti-competitive practices in the food and agricultural sectors. The hearings were historic and gave a vital opportunity for hundreds of thousands of America’s farmers, agricultural workers and citizens to call for an end to agribusiness’ excessive monopoly power. 1

Last December, Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 citizen comments to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney with your demands to break up the worst abusers. 2

Nowhere are these abuses more prevalent than in the extreme market share enjoyed by the seed and chemical company Monsanto, which has a virtual stranglehold on seed supplies in crucial sectors that has severely limited farmers’ choice in what seeds they can buy. Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugarbeets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes. 3

Not only is this level of market share allowing Monsanto to jack prices up on farmers because there’s no competition, but it also threatens our democracy as Monsanto uses their corporate power to influence our regulatory agencies, like the USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as Congress and the White House.

It’s time to fight back and the only way to do that is to make sure that the Department of Justice continues their investigation into Monsanto’s anti-competitive business practices.

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter asking for the Department of Justice to break up Monsanto. It’s time to stand up for farmers and our democracy. Tell the Department of Justice that it’s time to do what’s right!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=7

Over the past two months the biotech industry has gotten their way in Washington with the approval of three new genetically modified (GMO) crops. First GMO alfalfa, then GMO sugar beets and most recently an industrial GMO corn for ethanol.4

The common link between these crops, except for the fact that they’re bad for farmers and the environment, is that they face virtually no oversight once they’re planted and their genes are allowed to contaminate neighboring fields and our food. These multinational corporations are not required to submit rigorous, independent peer reviewed studies prior to approval, but are allowed to submit their own corporate science to the federal government for approval.

To date, no petitions for approval of GMO crops have been denied. The only way to reign in the abuse that determines the quality and safety of the food that you and your family consume is to put pressure on the Department of Justice is to make sure that they follow through on their investigations into Monsanto’s abusive practices.

Last year seven state attorneys general launched an investigation into whether or not Monsanto “has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices” while the DOJ is investigating anti-competitive practices with Monsanto’s marketing abuses in limiting access to seeds for farmers and competitors through manipulative contracts.5

It’s time to end Monsanto’s abuses, tell the DOJ to do their job and complete this investigation. It’s clear that abuses of farmer’s rights are taking place and the U.S. government needs to stand up to them now!

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter calling for the DOJ to protect our democracy and break up Monsanto!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy —

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1. “DOJ’S Holder Calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture”, March 16, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/352?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=14

2. “Your Voices Were Heard Loud and Clear in DC this Week, Thanks for Standing Up for Family Farmers”, Food Democracy Now!, December 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/353?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=16

3. “Monsanto’s Dominance Draws Antitrust Inquiry” Washington Post, November 29, 2009.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/354?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=18

4. “Update: Obama Goes Rogue on GMOs, Tell Him to Say NO to Monsanto”, Food Democracy Now!, February 15, 2011.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/355?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=20

5. “Monsanto 7-State Probe Threatens Profit From Gene in 93% of Soy”, Bloomberg, March 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/356?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=22

 


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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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