Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My interview with Tripp Fuller on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast has just been released.

Excerpt: "Contemplative practice is a real struggle for us Westerners, and maybe even more so for Protestant Christians, because we're so used to consuming information as the primary aspect of our spiritual live." 


Thursday, November 09, 2017

A few things I've learned...

1. If something seems really stupid to me, there is a possibility that I'm completely misunderstanding it and, therefore, I am actually the one that is stupid.

2. If my religion makes me prioritize keeping rules (doctrines, creeds, statements of faith, particular scriptural interpretations, etc.) over treating people with kindness, then I have probably misunderstood what the original teacher of my religion (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Moses, etc.) was trying to convey and, in doing so, I have quite possibly become the antithesis of what my religion was supposed to be about.

3. It is very liberating to say "I don't know." The older I get and the more I learn, the more often I say this.


Monday, November 06, 2017

 “Creeds are at once the outcome of speculation and efforts to curb speculation... Wherever there is a creed, there is a heretic round the corner or in his grave.”

--Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas

Saturday, November 04, 2017

"God speaks in the great silence of the heart." 

-- St. Augustine

Thursday, November 02, 2017

I had the most amazingly vivid, detailed dream last night. So astonishing that I awoke at the end of it, not in fright but in wonder. I dreamt that the city, and in fact the entire region, was evacuated due to some impending cataclysmic natural disaster (the exact nature of which I can't recall). But some folks opted to stay behind, including my wife and I. The mostly empty city did not devolve into a Walking Dead/Road Warrior hellscape however. Instead there was incredible cooperation and care, camaraderie and bonhomie among the remainders. Everyone helped each other, took care of each other, visited each other. People who stayed gravitated to the university campus to interact with one another. The abandoned shops and supermarkets were left with their doors unlocked so that people could come in and take whatever they needed, and people only took what they needed.

At one point my wife and I went into a convenience store. No one was there and the lights were off. She went into the back to use the restroom and I decided to grab a bag of Chips Ahoy cookies. Just then, the proprietor came in through the back door. He was a muscular young Pakistani man with a three-legged German shepherd dog (like I said, amazingly detailed). For a moment I expected an angry confrontation but instead he grinned and greeted me, tried to talk me into taking more things, and refused to accept any money. As we left he gave me a big hug and wished us luck.

Maybe, in my dream, what made us all so caring for one another and so unconcerned with worldly goods and with profits and losses was that we all were very aware that soon we would die.

I'll try to take that lesson into my day.


Monday, October 30, 2017

“Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change things which are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”

-- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

"If we spent half an hour every day in silent immobility, I am convinced that we should conduct all our affairs, personal, national, and international, far more sanely than we do at present."

--Bertrand Russell, Mortals and Others

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This week's "Author Tuesday" feature on Cara Meredith's popular blog has an interview with me about my book, Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community.

"Calling all theology nerds! In Presence and Process, Daniel P. Coleman merges ideas from contemplative Christianity alongside the mindfulness movement of Buddhism …and I’m telling you, the book will make you THINK. I’ve been chewing over Daniel’s thoughts for the past couple of weeks, and already have a handful of people I want to pass this book along to after I finish reading it. . .If you’re interested in writers like Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren and the ancient mystics, you’ve got to pick this book up."


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why I stopped going to church on Sundays:

Every weekday morning I get up at 5am. I could sleep until 5:30am and still get to work on time through the morning commute, but I've added the extra half hour so that I can meditate. That half hour of meditation has become extremely important to me and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It has become my core spiritual practice.

The most challenging aspect of my early morning meditation practice is that I'm not a morning person. My natural cycle would probably be to sleep from 2am until 10am. Through sheer discipline (and exhaustion) I manage to get myself to sleep on weeknights usually by 10:30 or 11pm. This means that I operate at a sleep deficit. Until the weekend, that is. On Saturday and Sunday my wife and I gloriously sleep in, usually until 9 or 10am. Then we lollygag around the house for as long as we feel like lollygagging (which is sometimes all day).

I have discovered the meaning of sabbath.

"But," I can hear certain preachers preaching, "the Bible says 'do not forsake gathering together'." We don't. What we have forsaken is sitting in rows on Sunday morning like a passive audience, singing along with a worship band and then listening to someone give a sermon. I don't think that was what the author of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews had in mind when he/she advised about meeting together.

Our solution to "meeting together" has become to attend smaller meetings during weekday evenings. For example, on Thursday evenings we attend a predominantly Buddhist group who meets in a Christian church for meditation and discussion. We find it nourishing. We recently visited another, unrelated, group that meets on Tuesday evenings. We may add that group to our schedule. Or there is a small group that meets on Wednesday nights in an Episcopal church for Centering Prayer that we want to visit. We're trying out the methodology of belonging to multiple (and diverse) small groups where we can show up (or not show up) on any given week with flexibility. We're exploring ecclesial polyculture instead of monoculture.

In my book, 'Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community', I wrote about small, simple, contemplatively-oriented gatherings as an adjunct to or a replacement for traditional Sunday morning church services. We're finding that once we shifted our paradigm and priorities, to make weekends for sabbath, early weekday mornings for personal spiritual practice and weeknights for "gathering together" with small interactive spiritual-practice groups, things seemed to click into place for us. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's working for us.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Keeping Quiet
By Pablo Neruda
(1904 - 1973)
(English translation by Alastair Reid)

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

--Howard Zinn

Monday, October 16, 2017

"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope."

--Thomas Merton

Sunday, October 15, 2017

 Art by Katie Jo Suddaby

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"The reality we can put into words is never reality itself."
--Werner Heisenberg, Physicist

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

“True religion helps us to grow, but pseudo-religion hinders growth, for it creates and maintains obstacles and barriers. Thus it is that much religion merely censors experience and does not liberate it, stifles human potential and does not allow it to blossom. Much religion is superficial and does not help the journey inwards which is so necessary for spiritual health. There has to be a movement towards the still centre, the depths of our being, where, according to the mystics, we find the presence of God.”

--Kenneth Leech, True Prayer: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

I woke up this morning and the first thought that hit me was "I am alive." I've been given another day to learn, to grow, to help, to be kind, to be grateful.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

World Quaker Day 2017

"In its early days our Society [The Religious Society of Friends] owed much to a people who called themselves Seekers; they joined us in great numbers and were prominent in the spread of Quakerism. It is a name which must appeal strongly to the scientific temperament. The name has died out, but I think that the spirit of seeking is still the prevailing one in our faith, which for that reason is not embodied in any creed or formula. It is perhaps difficult sufficiently to emphasize Seeking without disparaging its correlative Finding. But I must risk this, for Finding has a clamorous voice that proclaims its own importance; it is definite and assured, something that we can take hold of--that is what we all want, or think we want. Yet how transitory it proves. The finding of one generation will not serve for the next. It tarnishes rapidly except it be preserved with an ever-renewed spirit of seeking. It is the same too in science. How easy in a popular lecture to tell of the findings, the new discoveries which will be amended, contradicted, superseded in the next fifty years! How difficult to convey the scientific spirit of seeking which fulfills itself in this tortuous course of progress towards truth! You will understand the true spirit neither of science nor of religion unless seeking is placed in the forefront."
- Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, 1882-1944, British astrophysicist and philosopher #WorldQuakerDay

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

From a recent review on Amazon of my book Presence and Process:

"I thoroughly enjoyed this very well researched, exceptional book on the history of Christian contemplation/meditation and it's relevancy for individuals seeking a deeper interior relationship with God. There is much to learn from reading this book with pages and pages of excellent resources for continued study. Daniel Coleman finds just the right intersection between the Quaker faith, Buddhism and Christian mysticism."



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."
 — Bertrand Russell

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"The primary task of any good spiritual teaching is not to answer your questions, but to question your answers."
 — Adyashanti

Thursday, September 07, 2017

My interview with Rich Lewis of Silence Teaches Us Who We Are... 

Excerpt:  "What is significant about the contemplative mysticism of Fox and the early Quakers is how it caused them not only to go inward but also to then look outward and become radical change-agents in their culture: speaking out and activating against slavery, against war, against injustice and unfair social norms, etc., but from a place of contemplative centeredness.  I see a similar trend in modern times with the 'Engaged Buddhism' of Thich Nhat Hanh."


"You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion."    
--Meister Eckhart, 13th century Christian theologian

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

"Compassion is the basis of all morality."

--Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Friday, September 01, 2017

"A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it."

-- William Penn, 17th century Quaker, founder of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Apocalypse

"Apocalypse" is a Greek word (apokalypsis) that is not synonymous with "catastrophe" or "destruction."  Apocalypse actually means "revealing" (it literally means "uncovering," as in lifting the cover off of something to reveal what is inside).  Oftentimes, though, things get revealed as a result of catastrophic or tumultuous events.

For example, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey's devastating effects upon Houston we saw a revelation of neighbors sacrificially helping neighbors--reenacting in myriad ways Jesus' story of the good Samaritan.  Churches and mosques and
synagogues and homes and retail businesses opened their doors to shelter people.  One of the most inspiring stories I heard was of a business called Gallery Furniture, who invited evacuees to come and stay at their two Houston-area stores (plenty of mattresses, sofas and recliners).  As Hurricane Harvey approached Houston, the owner of Gallery Furniture posted a video on the company's website inviting people to come and shelter at the stores.  He gave out his personal phone number in case people needed help.  Gallery Furniture even sent their delivery trucks out to pick people up and bring them to the stores.  Hundreds of people have been sheltering at the stores.  Consider the loss of revenue to Gallery Furniture as a result of having stores full of new furniture turned into stores full of used furniture by refugees from the storm.  But that's what neighbors do.

Contrast Gallery Furniture (and the many similar examples) with Joel Osteen's 16,000 seat Lakewood Church.  Rather than pre-emptively preparing and getting the word out that the church could be used as a shelter, Lakewood Church appears to have kept its doors closed and only grudgingly opening to shelter its neighbors after being shamed on social media.  Initially the church claimed that they remained closed because their building had experienced "severe flooding" but now Osteen admits that "we were blessed to not have flooding here."

The apocalypse in this case is that it was a furniture salesman, not a popular preacher, who demonstrated Christianity.

Another apocalypse came this week in the form of the "Nashville Statement," a just-released document signed by over 150 evangelical leaders (including John Piper, Francis Chan, Wayne Grudem and John MacArthur) which denounces LGBTQ people and those who support LGBTQ people.  It is revealing that what motivated these leaders to come together and make a public statement was not the violent racism that manifested in Charlottesville or the threats of cataclysmic war of late or the corruption at the highest level of our government that is becoming increasingly evident.  No, their rallying point was to "affirm" that gay and transgender people should not be afforded the same dignity and rights as everyone else.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus warns that "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’"  What is the "will of the Father" that Jesus referred to?  Elsewhere in the Gospels (and throughout the Christian and Hebrew scriptures) it is made quite clear what God would have us do: care for the poor, feed the hungry, shelter those in need of shelter, welcome the stranger, speak up for the oppressed and speak out against injustice, make peace, practice humility and mercy and kindness and fairness, etc.

The apocalypse in Jesus' time was that so many religious leaders completely missed the point.  The apocalypse today is that they still do.