I have had a series of startling encounters with an ancient teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, and through those encounters, He has changed my life.
Testimonial genre conventions being what they are, I’m now supposed to tell you how I was a thug, a drunk, and a womanizer, a drug addict, thief, and gambler, in hock to loan sharks and on the run from biker gangs, but Jesus turned everything around — only it wasn’t like that at all. I was more like the young fellow from Tarsus: fair-haired son of my religious tradition, a seminary professor, pastor, and conference speaker, a rising professional theologian on the make…and then I got mugged by spiritual reality, and Jesus ruined all my ambitions.
He does that, you know. Everything you are or ever wanted to be dies with Jesus. And it’s okay, because Jesus knows the way out of the grave. In my life, what He has resurrected is turning out to be more glorious, more effective, more divine — and, to my surprise, more me — than what died. He built purposes into me that I hadn’t guessed, things so good I would not have dared to dream them for myself — but here I am.
What is raised is like what died, in certain ways. I was always more interested in making colleagues than followers, and God has blessed that. Today, many of the people I lean on when I need help or insight are people I taught or discipled at some point. They’re more than willing to correct me when I’m wrong, and I treasure them for it. I’m still making colleagues, but the way I go about it has changed quite a bit. You’re more likely to find me teaching martial arts, practicing massage therapy, or sharing the Scriptures with a friend over a pot of tea or coffee than you are to find me in a church or a seminary classroom. I’m still a writer and theologian, but I’m first and foremost a practitioner — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Geek that I am, I can still get interested in pretty much anything, but I find myself investing most of my time in three particular areas. I am most interested in physicality and embodied spirituality — which are different ways of saying the same thing. I am also interested in exegetical method and in exegesis of all parts of the Bible, as well as in the biblical authors as models of sound — which is to say, obedient — hermeneutical and rhetorical method. Finally, I have a great interest in what I call the “practice gap” — the way the same situation/action can appear radically different to theoreticians and practitioners, respectively, and how to bridge the gap between them. Obviously, my loyalties are largely with the practitioners, so to me, “bridging the gap” mostly looks like “waking the theoreticians from their slumber” — but the theoreticians also have a part to play, and I’m glad they’re there. (I’ll be gladder when they’re also practitioners.)
When I’m not working, you can find me spending quality time with friends, often over a cup of exceptional coffee or tea, playing at martial arts or movement disciplines, or outside enjoying the world God made, camping, hiking, or just hanging in my hammock somewhere, reading. Speaking of reading: I love to read! You can find my latest forays on my Goodreads page, but here are a baker’s dozen books that have been especially significant in my life (alphabetized by author):
- The Rediscovery of Meaning and Other Essays by Owen Barfield
- The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes
- Metropolitan Manifesto by Richard Bledsoe
- Cantus Christi by Christ Church
- The Deep Massage Book: How to Combine Structure and Energy in Bodywork by David Lauterstein
- Deep Exegesis by Peter Leithart
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
- Let Every Breath by Scott Meredith
- Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists by Thomas Myers
- Free to Move by Scott Sonnon
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Orthodox Psychotherapy by Hierotheos Vlachos
- Angels in the Architecture by Douglas Wilson and Douglas Jones
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