Posts Tagged ‘ relationality ’

A Relational Hermeneutic for K.o.G. Mission

I am thrilled that to announce that I just received my first bound copy of my book and it is available at a store near you… This book was born in the context of an eleven-year life altering experiment in ecclesial life, fleshed out in learning communities with thoughtful women and men who never ceased […]

rethinking social networking

Here’s another thoughtful TED talk exploring social networking; this one is by Stefana Broadbent. Broadbent’s research shows how communication technology is capable of cultivating deeper relationships, bringing love across barriers like distance and workplace rules.  What do you think? Peace, dwight

the fourth transcendent virtue

Reflection on Truth, Beauty and Goodness – the three transcendent virtues – is vital to anyone seeking to lead a good life. To ponder the question, “What is a full and flourishing life?” seemingly takes us to consider these three virtues. The three transcendent virtues are not unique to Western (Hellenistic) thought they appear in various forms within Eastern thought as well.

Have you ever noticed that the Serpent tempted Eve with all three?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing [truth] good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good [goodness] for food and pleasing to the eye [beauty], and also desirable for gaining wisdom [truth], she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:1-7, NIV – emphasis added)

Jesus added a trump-virtue to the classic three. Jesus Christ brings love. Love is the relational move giving meaning to truth, making goodness good and making beauty visible.

Without love the virtues become vices – as they did in the Garden of Eden. Without love the virtues become clanging gongs and crashing cymbals. Love moves toward the other in humility and service. Love acts in faith for the other and hopes in Christ for the other. Love is the ethic that translates truth into beauty and goodness. Love is the ethic that transforms beauty into goodness and truth. Love is the ethic incarnating goodness as truth which sets free and beauty instead of ashes.

Go back and read the temptation again. What the serpent presents as a temptation is the very goal of Christian discipleship, “that you will be like God.” Didn’t Christ invite his followers to be holy as he is holy. To be like God, to be like Christ is the hope of glory.

This temptation the serpent brought is the virtues without love. To have truth without love, beauty without love, goodness without love is to reject relational oneness the Father extends to us through Christ in the Holy Spirit. But God (I love those two words together), but God pursues, God reconciles, God redeems.

Truth without love puffs up and is evil. Beauty without love is seductive and empty. Goodness without love is moralism and a façade. O, but with love, they are fullness of live.

Peace, dwight


PS – For a wonderful treatment on God’s love extended through God’s people, pick up Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical letter, God is Love: Deus Caritas Est.

to understand another . . . swallow a world


“Who what am I?  My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me.  I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine.  I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.  Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each ‘I,’ every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude.  I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world.”

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.   New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1980, 440.

peace, dwight

windshield spraying

On a crisp clear fall morning as I was driving north on I-405 the car ahead of me cleaned its windshield, and as it did it sprayed me. 

So I did the natural thing – I cleaned my windshield – and in the process I sprayed the car behind me.  I noticed that the woman in the car behind me then cleaned her windshield and sprayed the car behind her.  Now, I couldn’t really see what the next car did, but this got me thinking again about chain reactions and – in a small way – the butterfly effect. 

How many cars were impacted by that first dirty windshield?  How much washer fluid was used on that stretch of highway?  Why do we notice such things? 

Please note: I’m not suggesting that “windshield spraying” become some kind of traffic game we engage to make our commuting more interesting.

Peace, dwight


“Procrastination” is just one of the words to describe my way of being lately.  I have been searching for distractions from those things which I must do.  Among my distractions this week: I built a wall nook to house DVDs and CDs, trimmed my hedges, painted my f
ront door, refaced my garage door, coded my newer books to the Dewey decimal system, and repaired an old desktop computer in my studio.  These were all distractions from my more critical to-do list.  I tend to be a fairly highly motivated person with a strong work ethic (too hard and too long . . . much of the time), so this feels odd. 


To all who have emailed or attempted any form of correspondence with me in recent weeks, you need to know that my absence is nothing personal.  Please, forgive me.  Some of my writing projects screeched to a halt as I simply can’t seem to write a coherent sentence.  Not only is my thinking is clouded but for some reason I can’t even finish reading a book: I’ve started reading dozens but I just can’t bring myself to finish them.  I am experiencing a soul-disturbance of sorts. 


I received some warnings that following the completion of my doctoral studies an identity crisis (of sorts) could follow – maybe that’s where I am?


The question I find myself sitting with has to do with differentiation.  By differentiation I mean my ability to maintain my sense of self when my relationships, tasks, jobs, and communities are morphing.  Differentiation is not the same as individualism.  My use of differentiation has to do with bringing Dwight to the other, to the tasks, to the jobs, and to the communities regardless of what those things bring to me.  I am not denying social constructive theory here, rather highlighting the importance of myself in community. 


I guess I am wondering whether I have become dependent on my relationships, tasks, jobs, and communities in ways that bind me to perform.  I feel a lot of “shoulds” in my life at the moment; while grace seems to have retreated into a theological belief rather than the way of life that has been so freeing for me in the past.  How might I move in the direction of self-differentiation?


Relationality is the dance of differentiation with intimacy.  This is the Triune life of God.  I feel like I can faintly hear a Divine invitation in my current “soul-disturbance.”  But offering myself to the relationships, tasks, jobs, and communities in my life has always been an issue for me.  Right now, my desire for approval and praise is crippling.


Peace, dwight

hugging till relaxed

In a class this spring a couple of students drew some interesting “hugging connections” between Schnarch and Volf. 

In David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage he encourages hug therapy, which he sums up as “hugging till relaxed”.  Schnarch describes hugging till relaxed as a fourfold process:

  1. Stand on your own two feet,
  2. Put your arms around your partner,
  3. Focus on yourself, and
  4. Quiet yourself down – way down, (Schnarch 1997, p. 160-4).

Combine this with Miroslav Volf’s “Drama of Embrace”  from Exclusion & Embrace and we might we well on our way to a relational theology of hugging. 

  1. Opening the arms: inviting the other in.
  2. Waiting: with arms open one must wait for the other to respond.
  3. Closing the arms: the goal of the embrace is a reciprocal holding of the gift of the other.
  4. Opening the arms again: embrace does not permanently make the two one – the end of the embrace is the beginning of another embrace (Volf 1996, p. 140-7).

What is the difference between hugging and wrestling?  Who wins when hugging? 

Peace, dwight

what did Jesus reject?

In the theological process of crafting statements addressing the many and various issues which inevitably arise in the process of life (for example), there is often a summary statement followed by a series of articles of affirmation and denial.

These affirmations/denials are an effort to flesh out the statements so that readers get a greater sense of the statements’ significance and its potential application.

As we know, anytime people make choices, their choices signal a rejection of other options, though not always intended.  To a degree, we reject by choosing.  Or, proactive affirmations inevitably carry denials.

Here is my question:

What did Jesus reject? 

  • His right to be God?
  • Personal comfort?
  • Testing God?
  • Claim to power?
  • Religious establishment?
  • The marginalization of the defenseless?

What did Jesus affirm and what did he deny?  Anything?  What/who is Christ for?

What might we learn about affirmations and denials from a careful look at Christ?

Is denial by silence the same as voiced rejection? 

Peace, dwight

“U” becomes a “wave”

Following up to my “U-Theory and the Cross” post.

One aspect of the U-Theory that Senge et al. did not stress in their text was the ongoing nature of this process.  As an ongoing process the “U” is more of a “W” or even a wave.  As we move up the “realizing” side of the “U” the natural and necessary process is that the new reality which is being realized becomes embodied, and over time reified and institutionalized.  At some point the process invites us to, once again, seek more than what we have realized and we begin the downward “Sensing” all over again.

As we move down the left side of the “U” we are “Sensing” that there could be more than what we have experienced, thus we move away from our place of relative certainty as we deconstruct where we have been.  “Sensing” maybe part of the process of both repentance and (to use an old term from my childhood) backsliding.  At the bottom of the “U” this crisis of uncertainty, while the upswing is “Realizing” a new response born of presencing with the chaos. 

Let’s not kid ourselves, this ongoing wave is not predictable or consistent and neat. 

And so we gain a greater sense of the potential conflict between people.

If person A is in the process early “Sensing” and they encounter person B who is already “Realizing” a new reality what kind of spacious engagement would be necessary for relationship?  How do we connect as communities/persons in process with others who are in different places along the process?

Peace, dwight

perfect liquid

My friend Kyle, passed along an interesting article in USA Today (April 20, 2005): “Picking apart the ‘Big Bang’ brings a big mystery.”

Diagram of quark-gluon 
 plasma states

“From colliding atoms: Instead of a hot gas of independent particles, top, experiments generated a ‘perfect’ liquid of linked particles” (USA Today).  These images contrast the degree of interaction and collective motion, or “flow,” among quarks in the predicted gaseous quark-gluon plasma state (Figure A, see mpeg animation) vs. the liquid state that has been observed in gold-gold collisions at RHIC (Figure B, see mpeg animation). The green “force lines” and collective motion (visible on the animated version only) show the much higher degree of interaction and flow among the quarks in what is now being described as a nearly “perfect” liquid.

Yet another finding expanding our understanding of the interconnectedness of life, and it even is using Scale-Free Network graphing to illustrate its findings. 

For more see:

Peace, dwight