Issue #58 | Nov 01, 2017

Of Gods and Men

Spiritual practices are much more than personal pietism. They lead to deeper connections not only with a higher being, but with oneself and with other people.
I am not very good with structure. Perhaps it is a subtle resistance against the Confucian emphasis on order, but my preference for spontaneity started young and it did not bode well for my spiritual health as assessed by churches that prioritized spiritual disciplines.
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Cover illustrations by Maggie Chiang

Maggie Chiang was born to a Taiwanese family in the City of Angels and is a full-time artist and part-time dreamer. Inspired by places both real and fictitious, her illustrations evoke a longing for adventure and the pursuit of the unknown, exploring impossible landscapes and places unseen. You can find her online at hellomaggiec.com.

Learning to Bring my Body to Worship
By Russell Yee

There I was at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the underground room traditionally considered the very place where Jesus was born.

The Promise Box
By Pausa Kaio Thompson

New York City is one of those places where you never know what you’re going to find. During my time as a graduate student, browsing through old antique shops became a hobby of mine. I often felt like a child on a treasure hunt searching for hidden gems on bookshelves.

How Zen Buddhism Helped Me Find Christ
By Jacob Oki Ahearn

In July 2015, after graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in religious studies, I decided to become a resident at a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. I wanted to experience first-hand what Zen Buddhism was about.

Why Liturgy Matters
By EJ Ravago

I’m a freshman church planter. But New Abbey, our small congregation, is not your typical church plant. Every Sunday, we follow a liturgy: We read texts from a lectionary, corporately confess our sins, hear words of assurance, recite the Apostles’ Creed, partake in communion (which has a formalized order), and pass the peace.

A Church Split
Sitting with the Pieces
By Jennifer Kung

Two pastors whom I trusted decided to leave my church five years ago, and I found myself caught in the crossfire between two groups that formed in the fallout of their decision — my beloved church and a house of prayer — that separately asserted they were truly following God.

Re-booting my Quiet Time
By Chandra M

Two years ago, after 14 years as a college professor, I took some time to reflect on the highs and lows of my career thus far, and how to build on some hard learned lessons.

This Coconut Cracker is My Body
Learning to Partake of Communion in the Form of Southeast Asian Foods
By Keomanich “Nich” Khim

As a child, I often rubbed the paper texture of the dry cracker during communion and wondered if such a thing really represented Jesus’s body. Maybe it was the wafer’s ability to create a satisfying “kurrrch” sound as I cracked it — maybe this was what brokenness sounded like, a reminder of Jesus’s broken body and sacrifice before a rushed prayer of thanksgiving and repentance.

Drawing Out a Prayer
By Natalie Pak

I anxiously fidget as I sit cross-legged on the floor of my church, Ekko. Soft background music is playing to create an ambiance of peace and mindfulness in the room. I begin to indulge in my nasty habit of picking at my brittle nails as my thoughts run rampant with all of the ways this could go wrong.

Rest in Guilt and Gratitude
A Guilty and Grateful Rest
By Kathy Khang

I told my partner one morning that despite going to bed early and sleeping in, I was still exhausted. We chalked it up to my recent responsibilities emceeing a conference, but upon closer examination of my calendar, we came to a different conclusion.

Making the Invisible Visible
An Iconographer’s Path of Prayer, Paint, Presence, Perspective, and Perseverance
By Sharon Henthorn-Iwane

Prayer has always been a focus of my personal relationship with God and my discipleship. So much so, that as a ministry, I have spent the better part of my life helping people pray. In addition, as a created being, my own creativity has most directly been expressed in the visual arts. Being an iconographer brings the streams of prayer and painting together for me.

This is Us Serving Together
By Tina Lau Dunn

Serving together with my family has been a privilege and a blessing. It is like getting a glimpse of heaven that keeps me wanting more. It also makes me want others to experience that blessing, especially my kids.

Coming Home
By Melanie Mar Chow

I eagerly returned to my alma mater, Fuller Theological Seminary, in May of 2017. I arrived early, thankful that the light rail prevented me from having to seek out parking.

Getting Off the Fence
How Eastern Catholicism Got me Intellectually Unstuck Through Hong Kong’s Occupy Protest
By Justin Tse

I became Eastern Catholic because I was a bad intellectual. And I wanted to become a better one. I did not know that my intellect was in such bad shape until I finished my doctorate. Professionally, I have a Ph.D. in geography. My dissertation is on Cantonese-speaking Protestants and how they engage with politics and social issues.

The Freedom to Converse with God
By Sooho Lee

I used to rarely voice my opinions. As a 1.5 generation Korean American, my identity formation called for me to be ambidextrous: one hand learning through written and spoken English in American society, and the other hand learning through unspoken and unwritten means in Korean environments, absorbed through (in)attentive observation and time spent in a Korean home and in Korean immigrant churches.

Prayer
By Kenji Kuramitsu

Recently, I had the chance to officiate my friends’ wedding in Havana, Cuba. Those gathered came from numerous traditions: Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Santería, Yoruba.

When A Pastor Can't Forgive
By Tuhina Verma Rasche

“Oh my God. I feel so white.” My white friend said this to me during a break at a disastrous anti-racism training at my seminary. I looked at her, incredulous and wondering what exactly I was to do with the information she just presented to me.

The Mountain Top

How Zen Buddhism Helped Me Find Christ
By Jacob Oki Ahearn

In July 2015, after graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in religious studies, I decided to become a resident at a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. I wanted to experience first-hand what Zen Buddhism was about.

Re-booting my Quiet Time
By Chandra M

Two years ago, after 14 years as a college professor, I took some time to reflect on the highs and lows of my career thus far, and how to build on some hard learned lessons.

Rest in Guilt and Gratitude
A Guilty and Grateful Rest
By Kathy Khang

I told my partner one morning that despite going to bed early and sleeping in, I was still exhausted. We chalked it up to my recent responsibilities emceeing a conference, but upon closer examination of my calendar, we came to a different conclusion.

Coming Home
By Melanie Mar Chow

I eagerly returned to my alma mater, Fuller Theological Seminary, in May of 2017. I arrived early, thankful that the light rail prevented me from having to seek out parking.

The Freedom to Converse with God
By Sooho Lee

I used to rarely voice my opinions. As a 1.5 generation Korean American, my identity formation called for me to be ambidextrous: one hand learning through written and spoken English in American society, and the other hand learning through unspoken and unwritten means in Korean environments, absorbed through (in)attentive observation and time spent in a Korean home and in Korean immigrant churches.

The Temple

Learning to Bring my Body to Worship
By Russell Yee

There I was at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the underground room traditionally considered the very place where Jesus was born.

Why Liturgy Matters
By EJ Ravago

I’m a freshman church planter. But New Abbey, our small congregation, is not your typical church plant. Every Sunday, we follow a liturgy: We read texts from a lectionary, corporately confess our sins, hear words of assurance, recite the Apostles’ Creed, partake in communion (which has a formalized order), and pass the peace.

This Coconut Cracker is My Body
Learning to Partake of Communion in the Form of Southeast Asian Foods
By Keomanich “Nich” Khim

As a child, I often rubbed the paper texture of the dry cracker during communion and wondered if such a thing really represented Jesus’s body. Maybe it was the wafer’s ability to create a satisfying “kurrrch” sound as I cracked it — maybe this was what brokenness sounded like, a reminder of Jesus’s broken body and sacrifice before a rushed prayer of thanksgiving and repentance.

Making the Invisible Visible
An Iconographer’s Path of Prayer, Paint, Presence, Perspective, and Perseverance
By Sharon Henthorn-Iwane

Prayer has always been a focus of my personal relationship with God and my discipleship. So much so, that as a ministry, I have spent the better part of my life helping people pray. In addition, as a created being, my own creativity has most directly been expressed in the visual arts. Being an iconographer brings the streams of prayer and painting together for me.

Getting Off the Fence
How Eastern Catholicism Got me Intellectually Unstuck Through Hong Kong’s Occupy Protest
By Justin Tse

I became Eastern Catholic because I was a bad intellectual. And I wanted to become a better one. I did not know that my intellect was in such bad shape until I finished my doctorate. Professionally, I have a Ph.D. in geography. My dissertation is on Cantonese-speaking Protestants and how they engage with politics and social issues.

Prayer
By Kenji Kuramitsu

Recently, I had the chance to officiate my friends’ wedding in Havana, Cuba. Those gathered came from numerous traditions: Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Santería, Yoruba.

When A Pastor Can't Forgive
By Tuhina Verma Rasche

“Oh my God. I feel so white.” My white friend said this to me during a break at a disastrous anti-racism training at my seminary. I looked at her, incredulous and wondering what exactly I was to do with the information she just presented to me.

The Table

The Promise Box
By Pausa Kaio Thompson

New York City is one of those places where you never know what you’re going to find. During my time as a graduate student, browsing through old antique shops became a hobby of mine. I often felt like a child on a treasure hunt searching for hidden gems on bookshelves.

A Church Split
Sitting with the Pieces
By Jennifer Kung

Two pastors whom I trusted decided to leave my church five years ago, and I found myself caught in the crossfire between two groups that formed in the fallout of their decision — my beloved church and a house of prayer — that separately asserted they were truly following God.

Drawing Out a Prayer
By Natalie Pak

I anxiously fidget as I sit cross-legged on the floor of my church, Ekko. Soft background music is playing to create an ambiance of peace and mindfulness in the room. I begin to indulge in my nasty habit of picking at my brittle nails as my thoughts run rampant with all of the ways this could go wrong.

This is Us Serving Together
By Tina Lau Dunn

Serving together with my family has been a privilege and a blessing. It is like getting a glimpse of heaven that keeps me wanting more. It also makes me want others to experience that blessing, especially my kids.