Identity Formation


“Without memory, mankind’s image of itself would be impoverished . . . ‘Memory’ is the key word. To remember it to create links between past and present, between past and future. To remember is to affirm man’s faith in humanity and to convey meaning on our fleeting endeavors” (Elie Wiesel, From the Kingdom of Memory, […]

home again, home again

Had a great family vacation in and around Winnipeg. Connected with a number of church leaders in the avant-church world and connected with lots of family.

One night we got together with Mark Humphries and the simple church he does life with. Mark has been one of the truly innovative leaders in the avant-church world. I first met him in the mid-late ’90s at GenX 2.0 where he led a workshop integrating the church and arts. He was so far ahead of his time.

I also got to share breakfast with Brother Maynard. He’s a really good missional thinker and has an amazing grasp of the Winnipeg scene.

Next time I hope to also connect with Jamie Arpin-Ricci.

But mostly we spent time with our family. The Friesen family had a big reunion (my dad is one of 12 kids), I hadn’t seen some of my cousins in at least 20 years. It was so good to be together, and sense our roots, and hear life stories.

We stayed with Lynette’s brother’s family. A great time . . . I wish we lived closer together. Here are a couple of photos.

Peace, dwight

thanksgiving eve . . . together

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. – Meister Eckhart Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected […]

it is finished

After more than a year of labor, permit problems, miscuts, and slivers our deck is done.



Peace, dwight

disconnecting . . . a spiritual discipline

A lot of folks have talked about, and even more of us have felt the paradox of loneliness while simultaneously being so well connected. The combination of text messaging, IM’ing, blogs, cell phones, email, even the speed of our snail-mail is lightening fast when compared to any point in human history, let alone planes, trains and automobiles all of which render us the most connected people to ever walk this planet. We’re not even bound to electrical cords any longer, between battery packs and wifi we can go almost anywhere with no strings attached; nor are we bound by location, as we up and move with great frequency and distance.

Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote: “Only as we are within fellowship can we be alone, and only [the person] that is alone can live in the fellowship” (Bonheoffer, Life Together, 77).

Bonheoffer’s words got me wondering whether so many people feel alone precisely because they are so rarely alone. Maybe contemporary life is encouraging a sort of “connection addiction”. As many people within relational churches and intentional communities discover when community becomes a goal it quickly becomes an idol.

Relationality, community and connection are very important to me, as even just a cursory pan through my site will reveal, but the last year to eighteen months has been a season listening the cry of my life for space. Allowing space and connection to flow together is dance I am seeking to learn currently.

As I have been prayerfully reflecting on the morphing rhythm of life/rule that I live under I’ve been trying to discern what some of the dominant values of my life and my cultures are, and what practices I could submit to that would place those values in Kingdom perspective.

One such value is the Spiritual Discipline of unplugging or disconnecting. I try to unplug one day a week; no email, no cell phone, not IM’ing, etc. Although disconnecting is not exactly a radical, I find it very difficult.

Peace, dwight

theology of spiritual formation

I’ve been having a great time finishing my syllabus for a course exploring the Theology of Spiritual Formation which I will be guiding this summer. This is not a course in the practice or practices of formation but is a theology. What do we believe about the formation? Can spirituality be taught? If so how? “Formation” suggests a process . . . when/how does this process begin? Can anything stop the process? What’s the goal or hope of spiritual formation? etc.

Here is a selected list of some of the contemporary texts I’ve been revisiting . . . what text or texts would you recommend for a theology of spiritual formation:


A Monk of the Eastern Church. Orthodox Spirituality, Second Edition. London, UK: William Clowes & Sons Limited, 1978.

Alexander, Donald L. Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Allen, Diogenes. Spiritual Theology: The Theology of Yesterday for Spiritual Help Today. Cowley Publications, 1997.

Astley, Jeff et al. Theological Perspectives on Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans 1996.

________. Christian Perspective on Faith Development. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.

Barth, Karl. “The Christian Life” in Church Dogmatics IV/4. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1981.

Berry, Wendall. What are People For? San Francisco: CA: North Point Press, 1990.

Blazer, Doria. Faith Development in Early Childhood. Kansas: Sheed & Ward, 1989.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Life Together. San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers. 1954.

Chan, Simon. Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.

Charry, Ellen T. By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Coles, Robert. The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin

Conde-Frazier, Elizabeth, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett. A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Dupre, Louis. The Deeper Life: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism. New York, NY: Crossroad, 1981.

Fischer, Kathleen. Women at the Well. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1988.

Foley, Kathleen, and Peggy O’Leary, editors. Focus on Theology: An Adult Faith-Formation Discussion Program. Liturgical Press, 1999.

Foster, Richard J. Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.

________. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1978.

Halverson, Richard C. Christian Maturity. Los Angeles, CA: Cowman Publications, 1956.

Hollyday, Joyce. Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness. Upper Room Books, 1997.

Johnson, Ben Campbell, and Andrew Dreitcer. Beyond the Ordinary: Spirituality for Church Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001.

Johnson, Susanne. Christian Spiritual Formation in the Classroom. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1989.

Lawrenz. Mel. The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

Lefevre, Perry D., editor. Prayers of Kierkegaard. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Loder, James E. Transformational Moments: Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992.

Loder, James E., and W. Jim Neidhardt. The Knight’s Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and Science. Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992.

Lovelace, Richard J. Dynamics of Spiritual Life. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979.

Lugenbell, Barbara Derrick. Your Spiritual Growth. Wilson: Morehouse Barlow, 1985.

Maloney, H. Newton. Wholeness and Holiness. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983

Moberg, David O. Wholistic Christianity. Elgin: Brethren Press, 1985.

Mulholland, M. Robert Jr. Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarisity Press, 1993.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: Doubleday, 1975. ISBN: 0-385-23682-4

Pagitt, Doug. Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Palmer, Parker J. To Know as We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1983.

Patterson, Richard. Growing Toward Spiritual Maturity. Wheaton, IL: ETTA, 1988.

Peck, M. Scott. The Road Less Traveled. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Peterson, Eugene H. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

________. Eat this Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006.

Powell, Samuel M. Embodied Holiness: Toward a Corporate Theology of Spiritual Growth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Rice, Howard The Pastor as Spiritual Guide. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1998.

Richards, Larry A Practical Theology of Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987.

Roberts, Robert C. Spirituality and Human Emotion. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1982.

Rolheiser, Ronald. The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1999.

Sinetar, Marsha. Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-Discovery. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986.

Steele, Les L. On the Way: A Practical Theology of Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990.

Von Balthasar, Hans Urs. Prayer. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1963.

Webster, Douglas D. Soulcraft: How God Shapes Us Through Relationships. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 1999.

Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Discovering our Hidden Life in God. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

________. Spirit of the Disciplines. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

Williams, Rowan. Christian Spirituality. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1979.

Peace, dwight

Chad Canipe passed away this morning

This morning at around 7:00 AM my friend Chad died, leaving behind his wife Renee and their two sons Colin (7) and Aidan (3).

Just a few months into the formation of what is now Quest, Lynette and I met a church planting duo who fast became good friends. They planted and for roughly three years pastored Crossroads Church which gathered in West Seattle. Many evenings Chad, Renee, Lynette and I would sit together praying, dreaming, wondering, crying, and hoping.

I was shocked when I received that damn phone call this morning – this should not be – he’s too young, his family needs him, and his community needs him. I just can’t understand this.

Chad was a beautiful man; a great thinker and I knew him to enjoy deep communion with God – shoot, I remember him fasting for the entire Lenten season a few years ago – he embodied full life and loved Christ’s church.

Aaron’s Klinefelter site shared: “There will be a Memorial Service held Sunday morning (March 12) from 10:00-12:00 at the Vineyard Central building, St. Elizabeth’s, on the corner of Carter and Mills in Norwood, OH (directions). This will be in lieu of our regular Sunday morning worship gathering. Childcare will be provided for those age 4 and under only.

“There will be a viewing on Monday evening from 6:00-7:30, also at St. Elizabeth’s.

“Instead of flowers, donations to a Trust Fund for Colin and Aidan can be made at any 5/3rd bank. Let them know it is for the Chad Canipe Memorial Fund. We are also working on a website for the same. Once it is up you can donate online at”

Here are links to a few more sites with information and tributes:

Aaron Klinefelter

Alan Creech

Chris Marshall

Renee and family, my thoughts and prayers are with you . . . I am so sorry for your loss.

grace, dwight

meditation via pipes/cigars

First off let me say that I am well aware of the health risks associated with smoking. If you feel you must send me links to the Surgeon General’s smoking warnings you are welcome to do so, but please note, that I am in no way advocating that you or anyone pick up a two-pack a day habit.
Having said that . . . life is full; at times “busy” would an appropriate word, and slowing down has been more of a challenge for me lately.
For the last ten years or so I have consciously used breathing exercises, to aid my prayer life. Slowing down, listening to my breathing, focusing on my body’s rhythmic movement as my lungs fill and empty; focusing on my body so as to become aware of tensions and stresses I feel, etc. (as odd as this may sound I often listen to my body just long enough to become aware of the elastic in my socks or the weight of my earring).
I’ve come to see the meditative gift of pipe/cigar smoking. Few engagements commit a person to sitting still – often outdoors – for relatively long periods of time in such a way that awareness of one’s own breathing is central to the experience.
I find that when I smoke a pipe/cigar solo the time often becomes a type of centering prayer, meditative and contemplative. And when I smoke a pipe/cigar with another person our conversation inevitably drifts in the direction of holistic spirituality.
So, if you have a difficult time slowing, listening, or becoming self/body aware. I might recommend you pick-up a decent cigar; and submit to the spiritual disciple of smoking.

peace, dwight

(note: this post was edited today to correct a typo: “meditation” instead of “mediation”)

room for superman?


Superman is scheduled to make a comeback in 2006.  In the wake of the recent “back-story” Spiderman and Batman movies some critics are asking if there is room for an Übermensch “overman” (Superman).  It certainly will be interesting to see how the character of the Man of Steel will be developed.  In the last few years Superman’s cultural currency has been in recession.  He’s too perfect.  Too strong.  Sometimes we even get the sense that he is acting when he is Clark

While Superman was in recession, Batman and Spiderman have held greater cultural currency.  The most recent Batman and Spiderman films both offered glimpses into what and who shaped them; the struggles of their lives, etc.  In a class I was teaching recently we spent a few minutes contrasting Batman with Spiderman.

Emerging culture seems to be exploring the tension between these two cultural icons.


Batman is self-made.  And his power comes from acquiring tools and mastering skills.  His bat-belt is loaded, the bat-mobile is unrivaled on the road.  He is a glorious example of the integration of the human being with technology, making him virtually indestructible. He may be the ultimate “modern man.”


Spiderman is an accident.  He didn’t seek out his role it just happened.  And the question before him is what does it mean for me to live fully into who I am.  What is this Spider-sense, can I learn to trust myself in community. 


One of the great questions of postmodern culture revolves around our understanding of  the “self”.  Who am I?  Where does my identity come from?  Does identity come from the belt about my waste, does it come from living into my spider sense, is it socially constructed?  How does God revealed in Jesus Christ and in the power of the holy Spirit participate in the co-creation of human identity?  Can Batman and Spiderman learn to dance together and take off their masks?  How and where does Superman fit in? 


Peace, dwight


BTW – it was Si Johnston who got me thinking about Spidy and Batman.

farewell new car smell

On a Sunday

The Vancouver film festival is underway; and since Lynette’s brother (Bevan Klassen) had his latest short film screening in the festival we drove up and spent some time with him and Frank Zappia (who has acted in a number of Bevan’s films). 

It was great to hang with Bevan.  Listening to him talk about film is a spiritual experience.  Anytime I get to be in dialogue with an informed and passionate person regarding their area of passion is sheer joy; its as though I can feel the scales fall off my eyes.

We all went to a fun pasta bar for dinner just before Lynette, Pascal and I returned to Seattle.  By the time we said our farewell’s and hugged our goodbyes I was not feeling too well.  My best guess was that one of the clams in my pasta was bad.  I was not well.  My food poisoning kicked into irrevocably high gear just as we turned onto I-405.  There is nothing quite like throwing-up on the side of an interstate; if only we been in the right lane.  We now have a forest of those pine air-fresheners, and we wonder if we’ll ever be able to close our windows again.

More than you wanted to know?  No one said you had to read this.

Peace, dwight